Vail Daily letter: Skier safety
Kudos to Joe McHugh for raising the alarm on the growing problem of safety on Vail Mountain (Letters to the Editor, Wednesday’s Vail Daily). It is not just a lack of enforcement. VR has its marketing machine in high gear to sell the maximum number of Epic Passes possible and then some, virtually guaranteeing more accidents and near misses.
There is suppose to be a limit of about 20,000 people on the mountain, but it is a limit without any meaning; there are no penalties or consequences for going over the limit. When the limit is exceeded all that happens is VR, the town of Vail and the Forest Service “meet.” The only currently effective limit on the number of people on the mountain is I-70 and, in a “careful what you ask for” situation, CDOT and the various corridor governments are working to improve the number of cars that can travel to Vail and beyond. Makes one wonder if we are not just one good snow day away from a major disaster.
VR has claimed that it is all right to “oversell” the mountain, much like the airlines oversell flights, because only a certain number of pass holders ever show. That has really worked well for the airlines. It remains to be seen whether it will work for VR as the number of passes climb.
At the end of the 2013-14 season, a group of concerned residents met with VR to raise these issues but got nowhere. VR claimed there really wasn’t a problem or at least the number of incidents was not increasing but we had to take that on faith because the “safety data” is a closely guarded secret. VR’s policy is zero transparency on what is happening on the mountain. Even if the data were available, it would only be “reported incidences” but it would be interesting to see just how VR is collecting the data. Until VR someday releases the data, there is only anecdotal evidence, and that evidence points to a growing problem.