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O Zone: It’s still early at Vail, Beaver Creek, so every little bit of new snow helps

November 26, 2023, 4:01 pm

Skiing in toward Vance’s Cabin near Ski Cooper on Saturday (Kyle Nelson photo).

Editor’s note: On Tuesday, Nov. 28, a Vail spokesperson provided this update: “We just opened Lodge Pole from Eagle’s Nest, Bear Tree and Lower Born Free with access to Lionshead Village. We’re now skiing top-to-bottom and village-to-village! Chair 8 is also open.” So that’s 8 of 33 chairs and 35 of 278 trails (12%) if you’re keeping track. And a two-pronged storm from Thursday to Monday is still in the forecast.

Vail Valley snow riders were thankful for a blast of winter (finally) over the Thanksgiving week holiday break, with 15 inches of snow at Vail over the past eight days. It was enough to connect the Vail Village and Lionshead areas of Vail Mountain and open top-to-bottom skiing down to Vail Village.

A Sunday morning marketing department email blast to season pass holders was a little ambitious given the slow start to the season so far: “Embark on an unforgettable powder day. With 8in of snowfall in the last 48 hours, conditions are perfect for blazing your own trail through the legendary Back Bowls.”

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

To be clear, the Back Bowls are not open (yes, doing my due diligence, I confirmed that with the PR department). And they’re at least a couple of good dumps away from opening the bowls for the season. The first one could come later in the week.

“Saturday delivered 1-8 inches of bonus snow, mostly in the northern mountains,” Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote Sunday. “Now we’ll see four dry and chilly days from Sunday through Wednesday, and then the next series of storms could bring snow from Thursday through the following Monday (November 30 to December 4). There is potential for decent snowfall from these storms, but uncertainty remains high.”

Some runs that opened at Vail recently: Slifer Express, Cappuccino, Waterfall Face, South Look Ma, Whistle Pig. A Vail spokesperson on Sunday said the colder temps are allowing for more snowmaking to bolster the natural snow, and that crews are scrambling to get more frontside skiing open for the season.

“We’re currently skiing top to bottom in Vail Village only,” the spokesperson said. “But we are working on Eagles Nest Ridge and looking to connect it soon, so we’re working on Lionshead top to bottom skiing.”

As of Sunday, Vail was offering six out of 33 lifts and 25 of 278 trails (8% of the mountain). Beaver Creek, which just opened Wednesday, was offering five of 26 lifts and 2 of 224 trails (1% of the mountain).

So it’s early season and slowly improving, which hopefully can also be said of the new, highly touted My Epic App (your phone is your pass). I have not been able to successfully activate the app after downloading it on my iPhone from Apple’s App Store.

I thought it was just me being a Gen-X tech idiot, but several employees – from lifties to a ticket-office staffer – told me the app has been super-glitchy so far this season. Luckily, I brought my hard copy pass, which was active and ready to roll. I’ll stick with it until they get the kinks worked out.

Meanwhile, I didn’t need my pass (nor would it have worked) at Ski Cooper a couple of times last week, where I ran into some other Vail skiers skinning and earning their early season turns. It was a little boney but still soft and well worth the trip over Battle Mountain Pass up to Tennessee Pass.

We even did a little Nordic skiing toward Vance’s Cabin with the dogs, and capped it off with wings at Mangos in Red Cliff on the way back one day and ditto at Kirby’s in Minturn another day. Very good restaurants. Very good times.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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