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Celebrating the end of a really good ski season at Vail

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April 18, 2019, 9:51 am
This is me in some leftover freshies in Vail’s Upper Snag on Saturday, April 13.

It appears that the solid ski season of 2018-19 at Vail will go out with a bit of a whimper on Easter Sunday, April 21. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still glad to be snow riding into the third week of April – unlike some other Vail Resorts’ mountains – but all the Spring Back to Vail festivities were last weekend, and one last powder storm forecast for this week never panned out.

The O Zone by David O. Williams
The O. Zone

That sounds like a somewhat greedy thing to say after all the really good powder days we saw consistently throughout this past season, but when you’re thinking you’ll get one more lift-served powder day – and I’m not a big spring backcountry guy – it’s a little bit of a letdown. Guess I can still enjoy last season of A-Basin on my pass and Breckenridge through Memorial Day.

Granted, most people are over it and want spring and summer to fully kick in, but last Thursday’s foot of fresh was so amazing, I was honestly getting quite greedy and hoping for a similar day this week. Not going to happen, and the next storm is supposed to come in Sunday night. There’s nothing more useless than fresh snow on closed trails (except, of course, as snowpack and water for the summer and keeping our forests from burning down).

Usually, closing day is a fat powder day – right when everyone just wants sun and fun to celebrate the end. Looks like Sunday will just be cloudy with no new snow. So I’ll shut things down on Saturday and avoid the drunken amateur hour of actual closing day on Sunday (plus my wife says I have to go to church).

Saturday will mark my 40th day on alpine skis this season, on top of 45 days on Nordic skis (either skate or classic) at EagleVail. That’s almost three months of clicking into some sort of binding this season – at least for part of the day – and that’s a major accomplishment for me.

I’ll admit that good snow had a lot to do with it, as most of my alpine days involved at least a little bit of fresh snow under my skis (I really don’t do hardpack groomer days because I don’t have to). I know that makes me a spoiled ski-town resident – the same kind who bitches about seemingly everything these days, from crowds to cheap passes to lack of parking, housing etc.

But that’s why we live here: to bitch and ski powder. Speaking of, looks like Vail will end up with right around 333 inches of total snowfall this season, and while it seemed like an incredible ski season after two straight duds, that’s right around average – an average that keeps going down with decreasing snowfall due to climate change. I’m not making that up; go do the research.

So I’ll take an average season, and celebrate it for all it’s worth (not even sure I could physically handle another record 525-inch season like 2010-11), but let’s not get carried away on just how “epic” it was. Now, another foot-plus powder day this week might have put it over the top, but that was not meant to be as the storm split and missed us.

“The second piece of our mid-week (non) storm clipped the northern mountains on Wednesday night. Thursday morning’s snow reports show 1-3 inches of accumulation,” Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote Thursday. Vail reported a big 0 this morning.

“The northern mountains could see snow showers and clouds hang around for all of Thursday. Then Friday and Saturday will be sunny everywhere with highs in the 40s. The next chance for snow will be Sunday night through Tuesday, focusing on the mountains near and east of the northern continental divide.”

Enjoy the last few days of a really good season!

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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