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Vail is arguably one of the most well-known ski areas in the world and the main reason for that is it’s sheer size. Boasting 5,289 acres of skiable terrain, seven back bowls and Blue Sky Basin, the mountain offers something for every ability level, but it helps to have a plan. The front side of the mountain is ideal for beginner and intermediate skiers looking to cruise perfect corduroy—1,200 acres of terrain are groomed daily and popular runs are groomed again at noon to ensure a smooth ride all day long. More advanced skiers can head to the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin for a backcountry ski experience inbounds.
Certain lifts can get crowded on the weekends, so check the chair lift status signs at strategic intersections on the mountain to avoid backups. A yellow light means the lift maze is full, so choose an alternative route if possible. A green light means you are good to go.
With so much terrain it’s easy to lose track of the day’s adventures, but Vail Resorts’ EpicMix makes it easy to track and share your ski day. Making its debut during the 2010/2011 season, EpicMix utilizes Radio Frequency scanners at the bottom of each lift and RF technology built into every season pass and PEAKS Card, allowing you to track the number of days skied, vertical feet and the lifts you rode as well as earn pins and collect points. It’s easy to set up your EpicMix dashboard and you can automatically upload your stats to your Facebook and Twitter profile.
On a powder day, there is no better place in the world than Vail’s Back Bowls. But get there early because most people share this opinion. It doesn’t matter which base you start from, just get up and out fast. Chair 5, also known as High Noon Express, which services Sun Up and Sun Down Bowls was replaced with a high speed quad in 2010 which significantly decreases the wait time, but also means the area gets tracked out faster. Head here first and take one pristine run down a classic like Forever or Ricky’s Ridge before working your way east. From the top of Chair 5, take a run down Sun Up Bowl and head up Chair 17 (Sun Up Lift), which will put you in position to ski into Tea Cup Bowl.
From here you have three options: ski down and over to Chair 21(Orient Express Lift) which will give you access to China Bowl and Inner and Outer Mongolia Bowls, ski to Chair 37 (Skyline Express Lift) which takes you to Blue Sky Basin or ski to Chair 36 (Tea Cup Express) for more runs in Tea Cup and China Bowl. A good way to make this decision is to check the lift boards or talk to a patroller. On powder days, there is often a delayed opening for Chairs 21 and 37 to give ski patrol time to do avalanche mitigation. If this is the case, enjoy the powder off of Chair 36 until one of the other lifts open. At this point ski until the snow gets tracked out or your legs give in then start making your way back to the front of the mountain and your après destination.
Groomers and Family
Vail’s world-class grooming is a little slice of heaven for skiers of all ability levels. More advanced skiers will enjoy black diamond cruising on Vail’s longest run, Riva Ridge, which is groomed on Fridays and gives you four miles of thigh-burning excitement as well as Blue Ox which is groomed on Saturdays. Northwoods, accessed from Chair 11 (Northwoods Express) is a great option for intermediate skiers as are all the runs off of Chair 2 (Avanti Express). Beginners should head to friendly slopes like Flap Jack and Sourdough off of Chair 14 (Sourdough Express) on the East side of the mountain, Lost Boy in Game Creek Bowl or the myriad of green runs at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola. For never-evers, Eagle’s Nest is the place to be. Easily accessible from the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, a practice area with magic carpets and a non-intimidating beginner lift make this the perfect setting to find your ski or snowboard legs.
For the young, and the young at heart, Kids Adventure Zones are scattered across the mountain, teeming with opportunities to discover. Runs like Chaos Canyon, Magic Forest, Sherwood Forest, Porcupine Alley, Coyote’s Escape and Buckskin Glade await young skiers and riders, promising adventure and excitement at every turn.
When the ski day is done, Adventure Ridge, located at the top of the gondola is open into the evening—offering even more family activities like tubing, snow bikes, a kids snowmobile track and free guided nature snowshoe tours.
Thrill-seeking freeriders have three terrain park options at Vail to choose from along with one Superpipe and one Halfpipe. Although all three parks have small, medium and large features to allow skiers and riders to progress at their own pace, the Bwana and Pride parks located off of Chair 26 (Pride Express), are best suited for beginners and intermediates, while the Golden Peak park is a better option for the more experienced.
Projected Opening Ski Season: 11/16/2012
Projected Closing Ski Season: 04/21/2013
Projected Days Open: 150
Days Open Last Year: 157
Years Open: 51
Average Snowfall: 350"
Pros: Most CO resorts Could stay open until late may
Cons: However The national Forest Servcice and Wildlife Services Says Otherwise
Pros: Size, Variety of Terrain
Cons: Size, Attitude, Prices
Pros: Well... um...uh...hmmmm
Pros: Groomed Terrain, Bowls, Lodging, Nightlife, Lift access
Vail Mt., Vail Mtn, Vale
The Epic Pass from Vail Resorts has added Eldora Mountain Resort to the pass as well as 5 free days at Verbier in Switzerland.More