Vail is bringing back physical trail maps for those who love them

At Golden Peak on Vail Mountain, Vail’s 2019-20 season trail map currently remains framed in a large display outside the box office, but staff at that box office will also provide physical maps for 2021-22 upon request. .
John LaConte/Vail Daily

VAIL – Trail map nerds, rejoice.

A physical trail map to have and hold, free of charge, is available for those who request one at Vail Mountain this season.

Vail did not offer trail maps during the 2020-21 season, but just as the trail map itself changes from year to year, so does the policy for printing and distributing these maps.



At Golden Peak, Vail’s 2019-20 season trail map currently remains framed in a large display outside the box office. However, if you approach this counter and ask for an updated interpretation of the ski area, the worker will be happy to provide you with a physical map of Vail for the 2021-22 season, folded in the same format you remember. from vending machines to loading areas in the mountains.

Physical trail maps are once again available at Vail Resorts property counters.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

These card distributors are long gone in Vail, along with their fabric distributor cousins, but although a physical card for the 2020-21 season has not been printed, in 2021-22 Vail has started to sell again. provide physical cards.



It’s part of a compromise between not having a physical card at all, like last season, and having a seemingly endless supply available for future eBay sellers. to capitalize.

Vail spokesman John Plack said the maps are available “free on demand in our mountains.”

Reduced average total snow cover

Several subtle differences can be observed when comparing the map offered by the Golden Peak ticket office and the map displayed in front of it.

The map clearly shows the bounding box adjustment to exclude the track formerly known as The Narrows in the Aspens near Gondola One. Although this trail has been removed, a new trail called “Jake’s Way” has been added in the Golden Peak area of ​​Vail. The trail formerly known as Cheetah Gully is no longer shown on the trail map, but the Cheetah Gully terrain area was opened this season and is still listed as in-bounds.

A Vail.com screenshot captured Thursday shows Vail Mountain’s average annual snowfall is 354 inches.

The 2021-22 map also shows Vail’s average snowfall of 350 inches per year, down from the 354 inches Vail has claimed as its average in recent years.

Average snowfall totals reported in Vail have increased significantly over the past decade; on the 2010-11 trail map it was also listed as 350 inches, but after a good year of snow in 2010-11, the 2011-12 trail map listed Vail’s average as 366 inches, with a message written on the front from the map: “Last year we saw an incredible 524 inches of snowfall.”

The 2011-12 season was conversely light on snow, however, recording only about 160 inches according to snowpak.com snowfall tracking. and Vail Daily coverage from then on. Vail Mountain does not publicly share its historical snowfall totals and did not provide the Vail Daily with the numbers following an early season request.

An excerpt from the 2012-13 Vail Mountain trail map.
Vail Daily Archive

While the 2012-13 trail map also showed an average of 366 inches, by the 2014-15 season the Vail trail map had been readjusted to show the snowfall average at 354 inches. Vail continued to claim these 354 inches in the years that followed (354 is still listed as medium on Vail.com), but the 2021-22 trail map reverted to the 350 inches Vail claimed in 2010.

In the decade in which Vail adjusted its annual average from 350 to 366 to 354 and now to 350 inches, the station hasn’t come close to hitting either of those numbers. Vail’s best snow year in the past decade was in the 2015-16 season, when Vail recorded 305 inches on snowpak.com.

Sustainable since 2003

The lagging snowfall totals of the past decade have not gone unnoticed at Vail Resorts, where climate change is constantly referenced by executives. Indeed, even Vail Resorts’ industry-changing Epic Pass is a product of climate change, Vail Executive Chairman Rob Katz said in a recent interview with the Storm Skiing Podcast.

“The number of resorts in the United States was going down – significantly, actually – in the 80s and 90s, and we were talking about why, what that problem was, and we really focused on weather variability, and we we were also talking about the fact that it was likely to get worse with climate change coming and happening,” Katz said. “The question, then, was how do you approach that, there were a lot of environmental measures what we could do, and have done, to do the right thing for the environment, but how could we actually make a change in the business model to help protect both our business, our employees and our communities? And so we said if we could get people to buy their skis before the season started, well, that would be one way to do it.

The environmental movements referenced by Katz had been touted on Vail Mountain trail maps since 2003, when the station included a reference to the “Sustainable Slopes” initiative.

An excerpt from Vail’s 2003-04 trail map, promoting the Sustainable Slopes initiative.
Vail Daily Archive

“We promote renewable energy, resource conservation, recycling, wildlife habitat preservation and environmental education,” Vail wrote on his 2003-04 trail map, along with a reminder to guests to ” Pack it, pack it; carpooling and using public transport; reduce Reuse and Recycle; share the mountains and respect all wildlife habitat closures.

But until recently, no policy adjustments had been made regarding the trail maps themselves and the nature of the elimination of the station’s distribution system. Vail Mountain spokesman John Plack said that as part of Vail’s efforts to create zero waste for landfills, and also as one of the lessons learned from the pandemic, Vail is now piloting the reduction of printing of trail maps on paper.

“As part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability, we continue to make progress toward the Zero Commitment – ​​our goal of achieving a zero net operational footprint by 2030,” Plack said. “The Zero Commitment creates the opportunity for a mountain resort operator to have a significant impact on environmental conservation through our three pillars: zero net emissions, zero waste to landfill and zero net environmental impact. exploitation on forests and habitat.”

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