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After a killer weekend at Vail, Beaver Creek, more snow moves into the valley
This is what Vail looked like on Saturday, and that was before 8 inches fell during the day and overnight. Now an even bigger storm was set to move through the valley Tuesday and Wednesday.
Courtesy of Jeff Cricco/Vail Resorts 

After a killer weekend at Vail, Beaver Creek, more snow moves into the valley

By David O. Williams

February 17, 2009 —  The wind was starting to stir in West Vail as I wrote this post late Monday night, hopefully a positive precursor to a winter storm warning kicking into effect at midnight.

This one could be the real deal. Up to 16 inches are possible by Wednesday evening, and that would put Vail over the 300-inch mark for the season.

And it’s not as if we were hurting heading into this storm. Around 2 feet has fallen since last Monday, but it’s come in dribs and drabs, with the highest 24-hour total coming overnight Saturday.

I can personally attest to the fact that that was a legit 8. Sure, some of it fell during the day Saturday and therefore got skied in, but by the time I hit the hill Sunday morning with my two oldest boys, Nick and Max, there was plenty of untracked snow, even on Vail’s front side.

Now a powder day with an 8- and 5-year-old may seem a little limiting, and I’ll freely admit we did not charge headlong into the backside (although Nick would have gone there with gusto). But both of my boys are pretty game, and I’ve become an expert at hunting and pecking the powder in the trees along the sides of trails.

So while Nick and Max raged around on Golden Peak and in Chaos Canyon, I delved deeper into the trees between those runs, popping out to occasionally check on them and guide them back to the gut of the run.

This tree poaching sometimes leads to trouble, like when I wound up stuck in a creek below Bear Trap, but for the most part it works well. And sometimes the guys explore with me. With Max, 5, that can be problematic (like when he follows me in and winds up stuck in the same streambed).

But on Monday at Beaver Creek, Nick, 8, was keeping right up with me in the Aspens between Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch, some of the best tree skiing in the Vail Valley. That’s because my wife, Kristin, was willing to stick with Max out on the open runs.

Both days (28 and 29 on my season) were simply spectacular, with sunny skies and temps in the low to mid 30s. It was spring-like but cold enough to keep the fresh fluff frosty in the trees.

It was a perfect Presidents Day from our family’s perspective. Not too crowded (at least where we were), lots of soft turns, and unbeatable weather. We even carved out the luge run on the hill behind our house, the one that had been buried by the last several storm cycles.

If all goes according to the forecasts, we’ll have to dig that out again next week after yet another killer storm cycle the next couple of days. The weather gods just keep giving.

And speaking of things that keep on giving, it will be a renewable energy love-fest in Denver Tuesday when President Barack Obama tours a solar installation atop the city’s Museum of Nature and Science and then signs the stimulus package that promises to inject billions of dollars into solar, wind, biomass and building a smart grid.

Only time will tell if Obama’s first huge step as the Change Agent in Chief will revolutionize how we power our planet, but there is building optimism locally.

Vail Town Councilman Mark Gordon is looking to rekindle the concept of a biomass wood gasification power plant in Vail – a facility that would cleanly convert beetle kill trees (and we have millions) into hot water and electricity ala a similar facility in Lech, Austria. And Avon is pursuing a system that will use heat from wastewater treatment to melt snow on local streets and heat the local rec center.

Both these projects (detailed in stories you’ll find in our Real News section) could set standards the rest of the state and nation can emulate, and ultimately will make much stronger statements than purchasing wind-energy credits and other such significant but less-substantive steps.



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