When I slid off chair 4 on Sunday, April 19th at 1:00 in the afternoon, I could not believe my eyes.It was closing day in Vail and the 2009 ski season had only hours left. I personally have never participated in the activities that make our mountain different than any other mountain in the world on this particular day. Simply put, it is a party. It is a big party and it’s organized. Organized chaos, but organized just the same.
I was riding up the chair with a very friendly couple from Steamboat and they told me they never have seen anything like this anywhere. “They begin to close our mountain at 1:00 and encourage people to go home. They never would allow an open container in a lift line, let alone the party that’s going on up there”. We reached the top and I saw what they were referring to for the first time. I thought, “Welcome to Vail”.
THIS IS KINDA HOW IT GOES…..Friends and hundreds (thousands) of others gather at Belles Camp in Blue Sky Basin at 10:30 or so, for the “lunch”. If you can’t find a grill, no problem. This is about sharing, and people will cook for you and offer most anything they have. Woodstock at 11,500 feet. This includes whatever their pouring for the shotski.
IT TOOK ME 27 MINUTES TO GET DRESSEDEventually, everyone skis to the confluence of chairs 4, 11 and 5. This is where, if you have not seen this before, you actually have second thoughts about skiing right to church and praying for these souls. Well, I don’t hardy pray for anyone anymore, so I found my friends and lots of others. You then realize this is the only place in the world you want to be right now. Then the avalanche canons fire and the lifts are officially closed for the season. The champagne corks are popped and you toast with anyone holding a paper cup. Next stop, ski (pole) over to Wildwood. Then down to The Gazebo toward Eagles Nest. Then home on a lonely mountain.
MONIQUE, JEANMARIE, LISA & RANDI ENJOY LUNCHThe only thing I was scared about now was getting hurt on the last day. I was actually feeling a little sad. For the first time ever, I wished a ski mountain would stay open just a little longer, just for me. I stopped several times to take in the sunset and a have a deep breath. As far as I know, every crazy human that participated in the closing day festivities went to work the next day and now life goes on without a chairlift. Maybe that’s a good thing.Greg Z