Just 2 in overnight at Vail and a coating of pixie dust on the car – just blows away when you brush it off. Talking seriously cold temps today – around 15C Below and a bit of wind forecast so took just about everything with us. While we can ski for free here on our Epic Passes parking can cost $25 / day so we had to head up reasonably early to get one of the few free parking spots around. Research worked better than at Beaver Creek and when we got to North Frontage we scored the second last spot! Celebrated with hotcakes at the Maccas across the road then took the free bus to the village.
With 2 layers of down on headed up the gondola to Mid Vail then up Mountaintop. Did a warm up run on Christmas then headed for the recommended run down Cappucino – lovely mix of soft fresh and groomed sections, with little islands of trees. REALLY cold and after a couple of runs headed into Henrys Hut to warm up – only problem was it was a building designed to house about 100 and there were 500 people all with the same idea.
When headed back out decided it was time to realise one of my specific ambitions for this trip. Skiing the back bowls of Vail has been on my bucket list for some time – even though I figure much of it would be beyond me. It’s a series of huge open treeless bowls ans as we dropped into China Bowl – the easiest of them – we got lucky and the sun came out so we could get some definition of where we were skiing. Wonderful snow and just about perfect skiing. Of course about 2 minutes later the cloud dropped back in and it was skiing by touch until we got down in the trees. Did the long run down into the base of Blue Sky Basin and up Skyline, then had one of the best runs of the trip down In The Wuides. Sun came out again, could see where you were going and the snow was just about perfect.
I’d already decided to return here tomorrow, so figured we’d make our way back to the front side and grab some lunch. LONG run down Cloud 9 – largely groomed but with some nice patches of fresh then onto Orient Express for the trip back up to the top of the bowls. At this point the weather closed back in, it started snowing again and by the time we got off the chair we could barely move from cold. Staff handing tissues to everyone as they walked in the doors of Two Elk Lodge – a cavernous log building with lots of eating options and most importantly, WARMTH. Delicious bowl of Buffalo Chilli warmed the insides while feeling slowly returned to the extremities.
Suitably recovered, headed back out into it and thankfully a little more benign now. After a warm up lap another LONG ride up Northwood, a final play in cappuccino and then took the long ski home on Riva Ridge which had the works – fresh, groomed, steeps and soft bumps. Snow had finally stopped by now and sun was out but it sure wasn’t warm. Had a quick gawk at the faux European village – some serious money tied up here – then reinforced our pleb status by heading for the free bus back to the car. Road was basically dry for the trip back down and much quicker than yesterday or this morning.
The storm cycle looks like it’s finally winding down. Might be some more light falls over the next day or so but after that we’re heading into an extended dry spell. But I can’t complain – have had snowfalls 9 of the 12 days I’ve been here. And with it so cold the snow should still be terrific for our last couple of days in Colorado.
And I’ve finally got some photos up for the last week.