Oh, what the hell: Hail Vail! | AspenTimes.com

Oh, what the hell: Hail Vail!

VAIL I know it’s unpopular around here to sing Vail’s praises, but I feel duty-bound to tell about my Sunday on Vail Mountain.I had to pay $17 for a space in a mammoth concrete parking garage, I had to wait about 15 minutes in an early-morning gondola line, and I forked over too much money for a bowl of so-so chili and a bottle of Gatorade. But the negatives truly end there.The snow began to fall when we reached about 10,000 feet in that gondola. And it didn’t stop all day; in fact, it accelerated. And the skiing just got better and better as we got farther from Interstate 70.We spent most of our day in Blue Sky Basin, the forested, north-facing area beyond the famous Back Bowls. There is so much terrain in Blue Sky that it’s possible to do laps all day, never ski the same line and always find untracked snow. And there was nary a lift line.So we skied laps, again and again through the trees, until we were about to collapse from hunger around 2:30. We made our way to a mountain restaurant about the size of an airplane hangar where, to my complete surprise, I bumped into a friend from Vail who insisted on showing the Aspen guy around.It was still dumping outside, so we finished our overpriced food posthaste and clicked back in for more.”You guys like trees?” he asked.There were nods all around. So commenced a fast-moving, east-to-west tour across Vail’s front side that was defined not by designated trails but by the quiet, unsigned and mostly unskied woods between them. The group of seven that left the restaurant had completely disintegrated by the time I reached the base again, shortly after 4.But what the hell – we found one another at the bottom, powder-weary and happy.I know Vail Resorts is a ski-industry Godzilla, and I know I made hundreds of turns in what used to be endangered lynx habitat. I know most Aspenites don’t like Vail.I also know that, for seven snow-filled hours of tree skiing, none of that even entered my mind.Sorry.

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