RECAP: What on Earth Happened at USA Ski Resorts this Weekend? Closures, Wind, Avalanches, DEEP Snow, Lift Lines from Hell…

SnowBrains | | Industry NewsIndustry News
vail, lift line
Vail, CO yesterday. Credit: Reddit user u/lonely-rider

What the hell just happened? What a crazy weekend it has been! Insane amounts of snow, record-breaking wind events, landslides, crazy lift-lines and viral videos, avalanches, resorts closing, and not forgetting some unbelievable skiing. Let’s take a step back, take a breath, and look at the last few days of insanity.

The biggest talking point of the weekend has to be the liftlines at Vail, also reported at other resorts across the country. What do you think caused this? Epic and Ikon Passes? Mega snow totals? Locals getting in before the holiday weekend? Destination skiers, who already had their February ski trips booked? Where did you ski this weekend, were the lines crazy?

Below is a look at the memorable events of these past few days…

Avalanche Danger and Resort Closures: Alta and Snowbird, UT

Alta and Snowbird, UT and Little Cottonwood Canyon highway all closed Thursday and Friday as heavy snow brought about dangerous avalanche conditions. Alta & Snowbird were also put on “Interlodge” meaning that no one was allowed to leave the buildings for any reason whatsoever. Videos of avalanches and photos of 9-foot slides burying the canyon spread across the internet.

Big Cottonwood Canyon congestion

Highways Closed Due to Congestion: Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT

Resorts in Big Cottonwood Canyon also reported insane lift lines Saturday (probably due to the fact that Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed for the morning), and in fact, UDOT closed the canyon highway due to heavy congestion.

Mudslides Leading to Road and Resort Closure: Crystal Mountain, WA

Heavy snow in the Cascades caused mud-slides on SR-410, restricting access to Crystal Mountain Ski Area, who had to close, while crews cleared the roads.

colorado, drivers, safest, snow
The delightful I-70. Credit: CBS Denver

I-70 Closure and Traffic Mayhem: Colorado

A huge storm brought over 3-feet of fresh snow to the majority of Colorado’s ski areas. Huge sections of I-70 through the mountain corridor were closed due to adverse conditions and snow-slides. Travel time from Denver to the Eisenhower tunnels was in excess of 5-hours, a journey that can take just over an hour usually.

wind, kirkwood, california,
A 209-mph gust may have broken a California record. Credit: Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

RECORD-BREAKING Wind: Kirkwood Mountain Resort, CA

Kirkwood Mountain Resort, CA closed on Sunday, and many lifts were on wind hold at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows as high winds battered California. A record-breaking 209-mph gust was recorded at Kirkwood.

Trees at Steamboat. Credit: Lisa duBusc Miller

Tree Well Death: Steamboat, CO

Sadly, the huge amounts of snow in Colorado lead to a tree well death at Steamboat Resort.

vail, liftline, colorado,
Vail lines. Credit: Hiking Nerd YouTube

Lift Line Apocalypse: Vail Resort, CO and Resorts Across the Country

Probably the biggest story of the weekend has been the ‘apocalyptic lift lines’ at resorts across the country. Pictures and videos from Vail, CO of lift lines on both Saturday AND Sunday went viral, and friends of ours at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY are saying the lines were the greatest they’d ever seen. Talk of ‘unprecedented’ lift lines at Park City, UT have also been reported.

Related Articles

8 thoughts on “RECAP: What on Earth Happened at USA Ski Resorts this Weekend? Closures, Wind, Avalanches, DEEP Snow, Lift Lines from Hell…

  1. Thats not exactly the Vail whole story. 1. Two thirds of the mountain was closed funneling skiers to only a few open lifts. 2. Masive snow attracted more skiers to Vail and 3. Epic pass holders swarmed the resort. Had it not been for the avalanche midigation, which is not optional, and all the lifts were open it would have been just another busy weekend at Vail.

  2. Yeah, it would be nice if this article did some research and actually attempted to answer the question in its headline. (Mark Gibson brings up some good points in his comment above.) And let’s not lump together the road traffic and the lift lines, as the causes aren’t entirely the same.

  3. Too afraid to answer your own question? The lift lines were created because there were so many lifts closed…some reports of only 4 or 5 lifts operating. Weather was the implicit cause/culprit, but the real story is that Vail doesn’t have enough lift operators who will show up to work on a responsible basis. VA spinmiesters contend that their problems are brought on by Aspen, where liftees get $3.00/hour more. The VA spinsters fail to recognize that the employee shortage was caused by VA itself .

  4. Saturday February 8 lift lines at Solitude were short after the initial wait for the lifts to open. As long as 5-10 minutes on the summit chair and maybe 2 minutes to some chairs skipped on the rest of the lifts. That made up for being shut out of canyon access on Friday.

  5. Biggest crowds I’ve ever seen at Big Sky and Bridger Bowl in the last 4 days, but we got a ton of snow too.

    1. Mike. Question for you.
      We are at Big Sky this past week and experienced the lift lines. My question.
      Is management here clueless on how to handle crowds?
      1. How about ordering staff members , all staff members to report and hel set up rope corrals at the two main lifts.
      2. Isnt this a supply and demand issue as well as corporate greed. The lifties I met were idiots who could care less about their customers. i received a
      “Not my job” when I queried about corrals and lift line management. I also saw a number of “Dumb and Dumber” idiots out there. Again Corporate Greed rather then paying up for decent employees..

      1. As an ex lift-op, I can tell you that a lifty cannot leave their post to fix corral ropes unless there is a backup in place. They are trained to safely get people on and off the lift — not crowd control.

        Having said that, Big Sky was pretty infuriating when I went there last , and I won’t be hurrying back myself. There are so many other choices out there for great skiing with good management and fewer crowds. Examples that come to mind are: Kirkwood, CA, Grand Targhee, WY, Apex Mountain, BC, Crested Butte, CO, Snowbasin, UT, Sun Peaks, BC, and Tamarack, ID. Don’t just follow the crowds to the mega-resorts.

Got an opinion? Let us know...