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Protect Our Winters, CampSight and late-season powder skiing at Vail

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April 12, 2019, 11:48 am
Protect Our Winters Executive Director Mario Molina on Vail’s Forever run Thursday (crappy cellphone photo by David O. Williams).

I spent a glorious morning Thursday surfing deep powder on Vail Mountain with the executive director of Protect Our Winters – a great guy I’d never met before who’s originally from Guatemala, Mario Molina. He rides really well for a guy from Guatemala, or for a guy from anywhere for that matter, and his knowledge of climate change is expansive and impressive.

Protect Our Winters was responsible for a great campaign aimed at shaming International Ski Federation President Gian Franco Kasper and his ridiculous statements earlier this year about climate change and dictators, which prompted me to write one of my fave blog posts of late, entitled, “The old men and the 2C: Trump, Kasper clueless on climate change, dictators”. Click here to read that hot take.

Molina is focused on getting Colorado legislators to pass a bill co-sponsored by Avon Democrat Dylan Roberts that I wrote about in a front-page story for the Vail Daily on April 1. The Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution, or HB 1261, would codify into law a 2017 executive order from former Gov. John Hickenlooper calling for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent statewide by 2025 and adding additional targets of 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050, using 2005 emissions as a baseline.

So, the lift rides as Molina and I lapped Chair 5 and shredded Forever Thursday were extremely interesting (more about that in a future story), but the powder-day company was also excellent. We then met up with Penn Newhard of Backbone Media at Yeti’s Grind coffee shop and a group of innovative marketing, storytelling, social media types attending The CampSight unconference in Vail.

Again, more on Penn and CampSight in a future story. The purpose of this blog is to extoll the current ski conditions, which are stellar for mid-April (or, on Thursday, for any day of the season). Vail has received 16 inches of new snow in the last three days to get it up over 330 for the season, and Beaver Creek has had 19 inches of new snow to surpass 320 for the season.

The Beav’ closes on Sunday, April 14, and Vail shuts the lifts on Easter Sunday, April 21. Again, it’s crazy to close with so much snow still on the slopes while we desperately suck up our streams to blow snow in November. That shift in seasonality needs to be acknowledged and addressed in the ski industry to get people less focused on fall skiing and more into springtime.

Last season was dreadful in terms of snowfall totals, but 3 feet of mid-April snow vastly improved conditions. This has been an average to slightly above-average season and we’ll shut down with plenty of settled base. Of course, a warming world means that snow can go fast once the sun comes out – something that very much worries boaters and water utilities.

Sorry, outdoor high school sports enthusiasts and mountain bikers, we need a cool, rainy spring and early summer. Otherwise, our snowpack washes downriver way too rapidly and we’re right back into crispy, dry fire season, with smoky skies and diminished reservoirs.

For the short term, looks like the Snow Gods will continue to deliver, according to forecasters. Another mid-week powder day is on tap for next week, so get out there an enjoy lightly tracked slopes and hopefully deep snow.

“Thursday was a wonderful powder day for any season, especially for mid-April! Light snow fell on Thursday and Thursday night, so you should find soft conditions again on Friday morning,” Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote on Friday.

“Showers will persist on Friday and maybe into Saturday, then the weather will turn dry and warmer on Sunday, Monday, and the first part of Tuesday,” Gratz continued. “The next storm will bring snow from late Tuesday through Thursday (April 16-18) with possible powder days on Wednesday and Thursday.”

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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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