Many videos and photos went viral over the weekend of the ‘lift line apocalypse’ at Vail Mountain, CO with lines at lifts extending in many directions back up the mountain. Yesterday, Vail Mountain COO Beth Howard came forward and apologized for the lines as well as other issues at the resort.
“I am well aware that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I truly hope my words here help provide context for what happened,” Howard’s statement said. “I have complete confidence in our team at Vail Mountain and the huge investment we’ve made in high-speed chairlifts to alleviate lift line concerns across our resort. I am confident this was an isolated incident in the midst of extreme conditions.”
A storm at the weekend dropped 38″ of fresh snow in just 48-hours. Howard thanked Vail employees for their hard work to get the resort open, and also thanked guests for their patience in 2-hour long lift lines, saying the “experience was less than ideal”.
Howard explained the perfect storm of circumstances that came together to create the huge lift lines at Gondola One and Chair 5, which serves Sun Down and Sun Up bowls. At Gondola One, which runs from Vail Village to Mid-Vail, eager skiers began lining up at 6 am on Friday and Saturday, two hours before the scheduled 8 am opening.
“While I don’t like to see anyone waiting in any line, I want to assure you that those lines were gone by 10 a.m. on Friday and by 9:15 a.m. on Saturday,” Howard wrote in a statement. “That gondola can manage a lot of guests, and once the initial group dissipated, the line was around five minutes long the rest of those days.”
The other major problem occurred at Lift 5, the only way out of Sun Up and Sun Down bowls.
“Midday on Saturday, while the majority of the mountain was free from lines, we saw a more challenging situation in the limited amount of terrain we had been able to open safely in our back bowls,” Howard explained. “At 10:30 am the wait time began to exceed 30 minutes, and the line grew much longer. By 2 pm, the line had subsided, but that period in between created an unacceptable experience for our guests and I apologize to anyone who got stuck in it.”
Howard’s statement also included a vow to improve the company’s communications with guests, including an upgrade to the Epic Mix app to accurately reflect lift line wait times, and that mountain managers considered limiting access into those bowls because of the long lines, a measure that had never been taken before.
“I know we could have done a much better job anticipating these situations and communicating with our guests,” Howard wrote. “I am well aware that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I truly hope my words here help provide context for what happened. I have complete confidence in our team at Vail Mountain and the huge investment we’ve made in high-speed chairlifts to alleviate lift line concerns across our resort. I am confident this was an isolated incident in the midst of extreme conditions.”