The Vail Valley, after a bountiful first couple of weeks of 2014, is now in a bit of a snow slump that will last at least another week, according to forecasters.
Plentiful snow in late December and lasting through Jan. 15 (more than six feet at Vail since Jan. 1) has allowed resort officials to open 100 percent of both Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek. But the softer snow has now firmed up a bit since then and there’s nothing in the forecast for the northern and central mountains until the end of the month.
“Most of Colorado will be dry through next Tuesday (1/28),” Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote on Tuesday, Jan. 21 “Areas east of the [Continental] Divide will see two storms, though. One will bring 3-6 inches on Wednesday night into Thursday morning, and another could bring similar amounts next Monday. The weather pattern should become more active on or after next Wednesday (1/29).”
So ski areas closer to the Front Range could see a little bit of snow in the next week, but Vail Valley snow riders will have to be content with a very healthy base and plenty of sunshine until next week.
However, even though the jet stream has shifted more to the east, temporarily shutting down the great snow machine in the sky, that doesn’t mean snow riders should relax in the back country.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center on Tuesday morning had Vail and Summit County avalanche danger rated “considerable (dangerous avalanche conditions).”
Such conditions make “careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.”
Avalanche safety is a front-of-mind topic for many Vail Valley and Colorado residents after the tragic death of Tony Seibert, grandson of Vail founder Pete Seibert, in an avalanche in the East Vail Chutes on Jan. 7.
On Thursday, Jan. 23, from 7 to 9 p.m., the Vail and Beaver Creek Ski Patrols will present the first session of the 2014 Eagle County Avalanche Awareness Series at the Vail Cascade Resort.
The evening will include discussion about the new CAIC website and basic avalanche awareness information. Guest speakers will include Billy Mattison from the Vail Ski Patrol; Edwin LaMair, a student who was recently caught in a backcountry slide; and Scott Smith, director of the Apex Mountain School, a full-service mountaineering adventure company located in Vail.
“The turnout for last season’s Eagle County Avalanche Series was tremendous and a testament to the appetite for continued education in our community,” said Caroline Stone, a seven-year Vail Ski Patrol veteran. “We hope the series will encourage skiers and snowboarders to continue their education and make informed decisions when accessing the backcountry.”
Guests are also encouraged to arrive early for free food and soft drinks donated by Vendetta’s, as well an opportunity to win raffle prizes and receive giveaways. Information tables will also be set up for participants to engage with Vail and Beaver Creek Ski Patrol, Backcountry Access, Apex Mountain School, Friends of CAIC (Colorado Avalanche Information Center), Paragon Guides, Weston Snowboards and many more. The session will begin promptly at 7 p.m.
The event is free to the community and free parking is available in the Vail Cascade parking structure. Overflow parking will be available on the north side of the South Frontage Road adjacent to the Vail Cascade Resort.
The second and third sessions of the Eagle County Avalanche Awareness Series are scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Feb. 4 from 8 to 9:30 p.m. and Tuesday, March 11 from 7 to 9 p.m.
The Eagle County Avalanche Awareness Series is brought to the community by the Vail and Beaver Creek Ski Patrols and is made possible by the generous support of sponsors such as Backcountry Access, the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa, National Ski Patrol, CAIC, Weston Snowboards, Paragon Guides, Vendetta’s, the U.S. Forest Service, Kind Design, Boar’s Head and more.
For more information about Vail Mountain visit www.vail.com, or stop by the Mountain Information Center, open daily from 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. beginning Friday, or call (970) SKI-VAIL (754-8245).