Vail Mountain, a major destination for anyone serious about downhill skiing and other winter sports, had a major problem in early February 2020.
What could cause social media users to dub the incident as a “lift line apocalypse”? Surely a little snow at a winter resort could not cause such a thing, right? That’s exactly why Vail Resorts issued an apology to guests. But this was no mere flurry.
Feet of Snow
The system that moved through the Rockies February 6-7, 2020. While snow is expected in the mountains, this system brought 38 inches to Vail Mountain over the course of 48 hours. Rabbit Ears Pass, about 90 miles due north of Vail, received more than 51 inches during this storm.
Beth Howard, COO at Vail Mountain Resort, said this particular storm was in the top five snow events experienced during the resort’s 58-year history. It was quite an undertaking by ski patrol, operations personnel, and slope groomers to get the slopes safe to open.
The challenge with this much snow falling this quickly is keeping the slopes safe for everyone.
Keeping Everyone Safe
What most people who are not from the mountains fail to realize is the danger this much snow can pose. The amount of snow, falling this quickly, puts a lot of stress on the base layer. When that happens, the snowpack becomes unstable, increasing the risk of an avalanche.
Out of an abundance of caution, Vail staff and management took the time needed to ensure the safety of skiers before opening the slopes. Fortunately, the lines that formed well before the daily opening dissipated within a couple of hours and allowed people to enjoy this beautiful area with fresh snow.