Vail Mountain cleanup sees record turnout
VAIL, Colorado – If you have made acquaintance with a ski patroller who goes by the handle “Big Sexy,” please let this person know Vail has located his or her missing radio.
At the Vail Mountain cleanup on Wednesday, Vail Resorts Echo, the host of the annual event, deemed a radio labeled property of Big Sexy the most interesting item to be found amid the roughly 20 cubic yards of trash collected.-
Vail Resorts Environmental Manager Adam Bybliw estimates the haul to be about 5 more cubic yards or 25 percent more trash picked up than in years past, which he attributes to this year’s record turnout. Two hundred ninety-seven public volunteers showed up on Wednesday, which put the total number of people helping out at around 500 including Vail Resorts employees, eclipsing last year’s previous record of 241 public and 450 total volunteers.
More people may make the job easier, but this year was a challenge due to the large amount of snow still on the hill, Bybliw said.-
“Normally we’re not doing the cleanup while the mountain is open,” said Bybliw. “It wasn’t ideal, but we had to push it back from the original date of June 21 so people could actually find the trash.”
If the change in date affected turnout, you couldn’t tell on Wednesday. By 8 a.m. the gondola maze in Lionshead was full with eager volunteers, many on a return visit to the event.
For Arvada resident Tom Moosburger, the cleanup is a chance to get his family together for a little quality time in the mountains while helping out the environment. His wife, Shari, and children, Nikki, Cassi and Kyle – ages 16, 14 and 12 – participated for their third straight year on Wednesday. It was also a chance for them to visit East Vail local Li Moosburger, Tom’s mom and the kids’ grandmother. Li is the chair of the Gore Range chapter of the Colorado Mountain Club and enjoys the cleanup every year, as well.
Kyle Moosburger said the most exciting part about this year’s cleanup was a chance to do some sledding.
“We’ve never been able to sled down the hill on our trash bags before,” he said.
Vail Mountain Chief Operating Office Chris Jarnot said the company wants returning families like the Moosburgers to keep coming back.
“We started getting the public involved a few years ago, and since then, it seems like we get more and more participation every year,” said Jarnot.
Vail Senior Mountain Environmental Affairs Manager Luke Cartin said the event has exploded in popularity in the decade or so he’s been associated with it.
“Six years ago there was probably 80 people,” Cartin said.
And the volunteers who help out at the summer cleanup return for the winter, as everyone is awarded a free lift ticket for their efforts.
Moosburger says if not for the free lift tickets, his family might skip Vail for Loveland or Ski Cooper when it’s time to ski.
“I like Loveland for the easy traffic and Cooper for the deals,” he said. “But when you’re spending time in the mountains, cleaning up the environment and getting free lift tickets, it’s hard to beat that deal.”
The Moosburgers trip from the Denver area is hardly a journey compared to some of the volunteers; Diane Smith came in from Naples, Fla., and was joined by her granddaughter, 8-year-old Caroline Pita, who was visiting from Austin, Texas. Caroline found an iPhone.
But probably the best story for takeaways on the day came from the Heistand family of North Carolina. Eric Heistand and his wife, Mason, both answered trivia questions correctly to win shell jackets from Marmot. Eric guessed the number of volunteers and Mason guessed the number of solar panels on Vail Mountain that day.
“And now we have matching jackets,” said Mason. “Like his and hers.”
For information on more Vail Resorts’ environmental stewardship programs, visit vrecho.com.
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