A snowy month at Vail, too | AspenTimes.com

A snowy month at Vail, too

Edward Stoner
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Zach Schutz makes some tele turns through snow caked trees Monday on Vail Mountain. After a slow start to the season, 97 inches of snow fell in December. (Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily)

VAIL – While stranded motorists fretted at Vail emergency shelters Monday, skiers had no worries high on the hill.

“Excellent, excellent,” said Cory Boutin of Westland, Mich., describing the snow as he stood near Buffalo’s Restaurant.

Vail reported 10 inches of snow Monday. Boutin had been in line at the Vista Bahn when it started at 8:30 a.m., and headed straight for Sun Down Bowl.

“There were some really good wind-blown areas where you sunk in 2 feet,” he said.

In Colorado’s ski country, the warm temperatures and delayed ski area openings of November are distant memories. Snow has been plentiful in December, with Vail Mountain racking up about 97 inches for the month, making it the snowiest December there since 2000.

The average snowfall for December at Vail is 59 inches.

It was the same story at various Colorado resorts. Snowmass set a December record with 119 inches and Aspen Mountain came close to a record for the month with 98 inches.

On Monday, snow continued to fall in Vail all day ” the second straight day of heavy snow. It was cold and windy, too, leaving lodges like Buffalo’s, Mid-Vail and Two Elk full of people.

But Toledo, Ohio, residents Aaron and Megan Kaun, atop Vail Mountain, had no problem with the wintry conditions.

“I like it when everyone else is off the hill and we get to run around in the fresh stuff,” Aaron Kaun said.

The Kauns come to Vail around Christmas each year, and the snow conditions never disappoint ” and that includes this year, Aaron Kaun said.

“Today’s been the best day so far,” Megan Kaun said.

Visibility was poor in the Back Bowls, creating near-whiteout conditions at times Monday afternoon.

The wind had loaded some slopes with snow, making for deep powder turns. Lots of snow collected in the trees, too, but some exposed faces were scraped clean.

Merchant and Colorado passes were blacked out Monday, but restrictions lift today in time for the New Year’s holiday.

Nico and Sabine Sturzenegger of Switzerland were staying in Keystone for the week, and came over to Vail on Sunday to ski for a day.

“It was just great,” Nico Sturzenegger said.

But with Vail Pass closed, they couldn’t get out of Vail, and spent the night at an emergency shelter in Town Hall on Sunday night.

Stuck in snowy Vail on Monday, they, naturally, went skiing again.

“What else?” Nico Sturzenegger said.

“No other choice,” Sabine Sturzenegger said.

The Aspen Skiing Co. is reporting no new snow on local slopes over the past 24 hours.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s avalanche report for the Aspen zone on Wednesday: The avalanche danger for the Aspen zone is considerable on all aspects near and above treeline. Natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered ones probable at these elevations. Steep slopes with fresh wind slabs should be avoided at this time.

Below treeline in open or exposed areas, expect to find pockets of considerable danger on slopes 35 degrees and steeper that have seen recent wind drifting. In all other areas below treeline, danger is moderate.

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