Get off the frontside: Vail drops the ropes on portions of Blue Sky Basin and the Back Bowls this weekend.
The snow gods answered the prayers of hundreds of Vail skiers this week, blanketing the mountain with a much-needed 13 inches of snow since Tuesday, with a chance of as much as another foot this weekend. The Sun Up and Orient Express lifts are churning today (Thursday), so skiers can start making tracks in Yonder and China bowls; Big Rock Park and the terrain off of Pete’s Express in Blue Sky Basin opens Friday. The word early this morning was that intense gusts in the area last night have made for windblown slopes, so use extra caution (and keep your rock skis on standby).
Explore open bowls and unmapped trails inside the resort, then dive into untamed descents just beyond the ropes. Your next big adventure is...
Not long ago, skiing came in two varieties: lift-served resort cruising and self-powered backcountry turn-earning. The chasm between the two was vast and rarely crossed. Today, backcountry purists continue to shun chairlifts and groomed trails. But evolutions in ski equipment, technique and resort policies are bridging the gap for the rest of us, who want a little adventure but prefer to spend our time going down the hill rather than up it. Call it what you will—lift-served backcountry, sidecountry, slackcountry—it’s the new hybrid ski experience.