Vail Resorts is in the news! Check out this article published Nov. 14 in the Vail Daily:

Vail Opening Day 2019 provides blueprint for Vail Resorts’ sustainability efforts

These days, on Vail Mountain, all decisions are made with environmental impact in mind.

Those are the words of COO Beth Howard, who is overseeing Opening Day 2019, a new-and-improved Opening Day the likes of which Vail has never seen.

The improvement hinges around a decision to move the Opening Day base area from Lionshead to Mid-Vail, and while it appears to be an obvious choice, it also reflects the latest thinking in the company’s mountain management strategy: Climate change is real, and ski resorts will need to adjust to it.

As a result, the new snowmaking system that allowed for a shift to higher-elevation terrain in the early season is nothing if it isn’t employing top-of-the-line efficiencies.

At Mid-Vail, a new pipe underground connects directly to approximately 80 new guns along the Swingsville and Ramshorn runs. The pipe is 20 inches in diameter, wide enough to allow all 80 guns to operate at full capacity during those crucial moments when conditions are ideal for most efficient snowmaking. Using onboard weather stations, the new snowmaking guns automatically pump more water through the gun as temperatures go down and less water as temperatures go up.

Mountain officials said the water cycle of all the new snow was contemplated carefully, and there are environmental benefits associated with the water storage aspect of snowmaking. With channeling on the mountain allowing for 75 percent of the water use to be non-consumptive at Vail, snowpack on the runs will translate into a source of water storage which will make an important contribution to the spring runoff cycle later on in the year. 

“That’s one of the best aspects of snowmaking … we’re putting it on the hill and storing it,” Howard said. “You have a little bit of evaporation, you have some going back into the soils, and you have the majority of it going back into the watershed.”

Read more in the Vail Daily »