Letter: What will be lost with new lifts at Vail
When I read the news announcing the new lift improvements on Vail Mountain, I was saddened and disappointed. I wrote a letter over 10 years ago expressing my objection to a “Sundown Bowl” lift and my attitude remains unchanged.
I know many will be excited by the new access and it’s supposed advantages: less wait times on Chair 5, “lapping” Sundown Bowl and easier access from the Lionshead portal. All this is true, but to me it comes at a cost.
Sundown Bowl, because of its slower access, was a more tranquil area, yet with the most interesting and diverse terrain of any of the Back Bowls. It is an area that one could find some leftover powder after most other parts of the bowls had been tracked out. The view across the bowl from Forever, Wow or riding on Chair 5 was magical with its natural beauty as yet unspoiled by man-made invention. I will miss that experience when the new lift goes in.
With increased skiers coming off the new Game Creek 6 pack, cresting over the ridge into Sundown, those immediate slopes will become busier and will most likely be groomed more regularly, again reducing what was once a natural snow experience and increasing skier traffic and speeds. When these skiers funnel to the bottom, the increased catwalk traffic will be more of a dangerous skier derby than it already is.
Those who ski South Game Creek Bowl to Minturn will have more company as well.
I would imagine the upper terminal will be placed between Wildwood restaurant and Chair 7, but where will the lower station be? Would it be placed by Chair 5 similar to the mess at the bottom of Tea Cup and Blue Sky? Or will it be similar to the Sun Up lift placement but at the bottom of Ricky’s or Forever/Seldom flats?
Vail Resorts has made lifts faster and passes inexpensive for all. However, in some ways it has cheapened what once was a quality experience by turning some of the magic of skiing — that amazing feeling of smallness while within the majesty of the mountains — into a rushed and frenzied race to see how much “vert” one has on their “Epic Mix” and simultaneously “shrinking” the expanses with lifts and people.
Our culture seems to encourage faster speeds in everything around us. Sometimes its pretty epic just to slow down and experience our surroundings.
I love Vail and hope we have a great upcoming season.