Vail prepares for last-day partying |

Vail prepares for last-day partying

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Vail Daily file photoThe "4 at 4" party on the top of Vail Mountain has become a closing day tradition over the last few ski seasons.

VAIL, Colorado – At Beaver Creek’s closing day last Sunday, local authorities began searching backpacks at the base of the Centennial chair lift toward the late afternoon.

Vail Mountain officials said they won’t be searching bags this Sunday for Vail’s closing day, but mountain officials will be looking for those trying to bring oversized bags onto the mountain, according to a statement released Thursday.

Vail Mountain spokeswoman Liz Biebl said the resort isn’t trying to get in the way of any end-of-the-season celebrations, but the resort wants to “manage the alcohol situation a little better.”

The Colorado Ski Safety Act prohibits using any ski lift or trail while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, a law about which Vail Mountain officials are reminding skiers and snowboarders . Guests are also not allowed to ride lifts, or ski or snowboard on Vail Mountain, with “exposed quantities of alcohol, coolers, suitcase-like carriers, barbecues or similar items,” according to the statement.

Vail Police Det. Sgt. Craig Bettis said the Vail Police won’t be searching bags “unless a crime has occurred.” He said the police department will be helping out with the general capacity of closing day, referring to crowds, safety and security, he said.

Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Vail Mountain, said the resort is responding to last year’s closing day festivities this season.

“Our intent is not to eliminate the tradition that the closing day celebration has become, however last year we saw a significant expansion in the volume of alcohol carried and consumed on the mountain throughout the day and we will be increasing our management of what is acceptable.”

One strategy the resort is using this year is scheduling – Vail’s World Pond Skimming Championships, which were held the day before closing day last season, are scheduled for closing day this year. The 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. time frame coincides with the famous “chair four at four” parties where most of the last-day mischief occurs. A free concert is also scheduled immediately after pond skimming, giving skiers and riders more reasons to get off the mountain a little earlier in the day.

Biebl said the resort hopes to get support from its guests so Vail Mountain can continue to have closing day parties on the hill for years to come.

“We want to make sure everyone continues to have fun,” Biebl said.

Don Dressler, snow ranger for the White River National Forest, said Sunday’s enforcement is really about maintaining public safety. Authorities don’t want any incidents, like snowball fights, to jeopardize anyone’s safety on the mountain.

“There will be violations issued for that,” Dressler said. “And folks could lose skiing privileges.”

Tim Winn, 42, a skier who lives in Eagle, say he think the celebration is a good time but the snowball fights can ruin the fun. Winn said last time he attended the closing day party, a snowball fight ruined the festivities and he hasn’t been back for a few years.

“I think the last day is awesome and it’s a good time but the snowball fights are pretty immature,” said Tim Winn, 42, a skier who lives in Eagle.

The efforts on Sunday are a “coordinated community response,” Dressler said, between the mountain, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, the Vail Police Department, and skiers and snowboarders.

“We’re working together to keep this a fun event,” Dressler said. “We think it’s great that people are out there enjoying public lands, we just want them to do it responsibly.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

Support Local Journalism