Vail Mountain’s snow guns are running, and locals are excited for winter |

Vail Mountain’s snow guns are running, and locals are excited for winter

Snow also brought plenty of accidents, and tire shops are swamped right now

New snowmaking machinery at higher elevations on Vail Mountain will allow an earlier Opening Day, but the the mountain's first access will be from Vail Village, not Lionshead.
Courtesy Vail Resorts
Be careful out there Eagle County Paramedic Services Operations Manager Jim Bradford has some tips for driving in wintry weather: Have good tires. Keep your windshield clean (stock up on washer fluid). Leave lots of room between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. Look as far ahead as possible when driving.

EAGLE COUNTY — It’s only October, but we live in a valley full of winter people, and they’re getting eager for action.

A pair of snowstorms this week has brought several inches of snow to the high country. Vail Resorts Thursday reported the two storms had brought up to 25 inches of fresh snow to resorts in Eagle and Summit counties. The storm that hit Wednesday afternoon and lingered into early Thursday morning put a fresh six inches on the snow stake at Vail Mountain, and nine inches to Beaver Creek.

Those storms, along with falling temperatures, finally allowed Vail Resorts to fire up the new snowmaking system on Vail Mountain. That system will open early-season skiing at higher elevations accessed from the resort’s Gondola One out of Vail Village.

The resort is targeting a Nov. 15 opening date. Beaver Creek is scheduled to open Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving.

Recent snow has skiers and boarders in the valley and elsewhere getting their gear ready for the season to come.

In a phone call Thursday morning, just about the first thing Venture Sports owner Mike Brumbaugh mentioned was the sight of snow guns running on Vail Mountain. With fresh snow, Brumbaugh said people are coming into the company’s stores in Avon and Vail, bringing in gear for tune-ups and talking about seasonal rentals.

‘Ringing robustly’

“Our hotel partners are saying their phones aren’t ringing off the hook, but are ringing robustly,” Brumbaugh said.

That’s good for everyone, he noted, from lodges to restaurants to retail shops.

Brumbaugh on Thursday morning received a text of a photo of that day’s snow stake measurement at Beaver Creek — the one showing nine inches of new powder.

The texters, who are in Europe at the moment, asked the obvious question: “Is this true?”

It’s true, Brumbaugh replied.

Snow brings immediate business to local tire stores.

At Action Jackson Auto in EagleVail, owner Ross Blankenship said snow brings swarms of phone calls and nearly as many visits.

How are your tires?

Blankenship said his shop has done dozens of tire swaps or sales in the course of a day’s business. The shop has expanded its hours — from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. — to handle the business.

In addition to swapping summer for winter tires, Blankenship said he’s ordered about 150 sets of winter tires per week for the past couple of weeks.

During the valley’s first shot of snow a couple of weeks ago, Blankenship said the shop had as many as 20 cars lined up outside the shop before it opened that day.

But even the best tires won’t make up for inattentive driving in winter conditions.

Over the course of about 12 hours from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning, a number of texts and emails about accidents were sent via Eagle County’s alert system.

Eagle County Paramedic Services Operations Manager Jim Bradford said Thursday morning that ambulances were dispatched to eight accident scenes between Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning.

Bradford said ambulances and fire trucks are sent to “pretty much every” accident on Interstate 70, as well as other roads and highways in the area. Police can cancel those calls in the case of minor accidents.

It’s early, but there’s a chance for more snow in the National Weather Service forecast for Vail. That forecast calls for a chance of snow showers from Sunday through Tuesday of next week.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at or 970-748-2930.

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