Vail Mountain pushes back its opening |

Vail Mountain pushes back its opening

Edward Stoner
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Lift operater Chris McMahan, right, dumps off another load of man-made snow for fellow lift operator Tim Stavn, left, and Adam Lundgren to spread over the chair 8 ramp Thursday in Lionshead. The lack of snow means the lift loading area has to be snow covered by hand. (Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily)

VAIL ” Citing a lack of snow, Vail Mountain has put off its opening, scheduled for Friday, until Nov. 21.

Conditions were shaping up to be “marginal,” spokeswoman Jen Brown said Thursday.

“In terms of coverage and surface, we would prefer to have additional nights of snowmaking,” she said.

Officials had hoped to open the Born Free trail, above Lionshead, Friday on man-made snow.

Vail has seen little natural snow during the past month, and warm temperatures have limited the amount of snow that could be made.

With cold temperatures Wednesday night, snowmakers were able to fire up more than 50 snow guns. But in the previous two weeks ” snowmaking began Nov. 1 ” temperatures seldom dipped far below freezing, leaving short and unfruitful windows for snowmaking.

Steamboat also announced Thursday it would move back its opening, originally set for Wednesday, to Nov. 30. Eldora said Wednesday it would delay its opening.

Aldis Strautins, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said a changing weather pattern could bring some snow to Vail early next week, perhaps Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s too early to tell how much, he said.

A lack of early season snow has happened before in Vail. In fact, it was a problem in each of Vail’s first two seasons.

Daphne Slevin, a Vail resident since 1962, remembers driving up to Mid-Vail in a Volkswagen van on Dec. 10, 1962. That was five days before the opening of Vail’s first season.

“Vail Associates got the Army in with baskets to go under the trees, where there was more snow, and take the snow from under the trees and put it on the runs,” she said.

In 1963, after a dry start to the second season, Vail Associates brought in some Ute Indians to perform a snow dance. Five days later, a blizzard slammed Vail.

There are no immediate plans to bring back the Utes, Brown said.

“But we know how to reach them,” she said.

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