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Opening day at Vail on Wednesday saw spring-like temperatures, loads of soft snow (by early-season standards) and a relative lack of crowds – especially given that cars filled both parking structures and spilled out onto South Frontage Road.
By the time I got there around 11 a.m., the snow riders were pretty spread out across the available 600 or so skiable acres. Great to have Vail Village access via Gondola One on opening day, which was actually moved up by a couple of days due to the four-plus feet of snow we’ve received in the last month or so. But you do have to download to get back to the Village.
The true top-to-bottom skiing right now is over at Lionshead. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some additional terrain come online as we get toward the weekend. Game Creek Bowl looked imminently skiable. One more day of free parking on Thursday and then full pay mode starting on the originally scheduled opening day on Friday.
Beaver Creek opens four days early on Saturday, so there’s that to look forward to, along with a minor storm Saturday into Sunday that could dust the slopes with some fresh snow and bring colder temperatures for snowmaking. Then forecasters say it will be Thanksgiving before the next storm rolls in.
“Thursday and Friday will be sunny with highs in the upper 30s to low 40s. Then temperatures will cool on Saturday with light snow over the northern mountains from Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning,” Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote on Thursday. “The week of Thanksgiving will start dry, then we might see a weak-to-moderate storm around Thanksgiving with storm chances continuing into the weekend and the following week.”
Wednesday was one of the better openings I’ve experienced in my 25 years in Vail, although not nearly as good as my first winter here, when Vail opened on Nov. 6, 1991. Somewhere I have a photo of me skiing mid-shin powder that day on Kangaroo Cornice. I would have posted it except the ski clothes were a little too embarrassing and I was wearing white, rear-entry boots.
Here’s a presser from Vail Resorts with lots of details about Vail and Beaver Creek opening and the Epic Pass deadline on Sunday, Nov. 18:
Vail Mountain Opens Early for the 2018-19 Winter Season
VAIL, Colo. – Nov. 14, 2018 – Following four feet of snow last week, Vail Mountain opened for the 2018-19 ski and snowboard season today, Nov. 14, two days ahead of the scheduled opening date of Nov. 16. Similarly, Beaver Creek Resort will open earlier than anticipated with a Nov. 17 scheduled opening, four days ahead of its previous Nov. 21 scheduled opening date.
A combination of some of the best early-November snow and coldest snowmaking conditions in years at Vail allowed the resort to open with more than 600 skiable acres, accessed by seven lifts, including top-to-bottom skiing and riding via Lionshead Village.
Beaver Creek will open the mountain all the way to the top with intermediate terrain on Gold Dust accessed via Centennial Express (#6), plus beginner terrain in Red Buffalo Park accessible via the Cinch Express (#8) and last year’s new Red Buffalo Express (#5), and Haymeadow Park and the Haymeadow Express Gondola (#1). Opening day festivities will include a special Cookie Time in the morning.
All guests are reminded that they must observe all posted signs, closures and slow zones, especially during the early-season. Closed trails may contain hazards due to early snow coverage. Accessing closed terrain is a violation of the Colorado Ski Safety Act and will result in the loss of skiing privileges and could involve prosecution and a fine.
Epic Pass: Secure the Greatest Season Pass Value in the Ski Industry before Sunday, Nov. 18
The last chance to purchase the 2018-19 Epic Pass Epic Pass and the entire lineup of Epic Season Pass options – including the Epic Local, Epic 7-Day, Epic 4-Day, and Epic Military Pass – is Sunday, Nov. 18. The Epic Pass provides skiers and riders with the greatest multi-resort pass value in the ski industry, offering access to more than 65 resorts in eight countries for $949. New for the 2018-19 winter season, the Epic Pass will now feature unlimited, unrestricted skiing and riding at 19 mountain resorts including Crested Butte, plus seven days at Telluride, in addition to unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. The entire lineup of passes is available for purchase at www.epicpass.com.
Scans for Cans: Make turns for good this Thanksgiving.
On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 22, Epic Pass holders can give back to the community while they ski or snowboard. For each Epic Pass scanned at either Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek Resort this Thanksgiving, Vail, Beaver Creek, and EpicPromise will donate one canned food item on the pass holder’s behalf to the Vail Valley Salvation Army.
Vail Mountain Early Season:
10 Days of Epic
To celebrate 10 years of the Epic Pass, Vail Mountain will offer 10 days of specials on Fridays and Saturdays from Nov. 16 through Dec. 16. Some specials include complimentary fries with the purchase of an Epic Burger; 50 percent off ski school group lessons; après at Express Lift Bar featuring $3 drink specials; and 20 percent off Epic Mountain Express rides to and from Vail. Additional details are available at www.vail.com/readysetsnow
From Dec. 13 to 16, Vail Snow Days features an expanded four-day lineup of events and activities from free concerts, a Pray for Snow Bonfire, pub crawls, and more. Visit www.vail.com/snowdays for a list of all activities.
Beaver Creek Early Season:
Experience Winter’s Extraordinary Start at Beaver Creek:
From being back on snow, to world-class events and special offers, four extraordinary weeks of celebration await. Early season celebrations include Opening Weekend, Nov. 21-25; Xfinity Birds of Prey Men’s Audi FIS Ski World Cup Nov. 29-Dec. 2; Winter’s Welcome, Dec. 7-9; and the Haymeadow Park Grand Opening on Dec. 15. www.beavercreek.com/explore/winters-extraordinary-start