On a blue sky, bluebird day after a night full of snowfall leaves the mountain covered in deep, bright snow, there’s only one place the local powder hounds are headed. For some, it’s merely a daydream, but for those lucky enough to find their way to Vail in the winter, it’s a reality not easily forgotten. Vail’s Back Bowls have been deemed “Legendary” and perhaps the most legendary of them all is Blue Sky Basin.
BLUE SKY BEGINNINGS
Vail was discovered in 1957 by two World War II veterans who were a part of the 10th Mountain Division that trained at nearby Camp Hale. Five years later, Vail Mountain opened. In the original permit application, the founders included every bit of land that they hoped would ever be a part of the resort, including all of the terrain that is now known as the Back Bowls.
Thirty-eight years later, in an attempt to widen the range of Vail Mountain and provide a true off-piste experience for more expert skiers, Blue Sky Basin was opened in 2000. This groundbreaking new area was unlike anything around at the time. It included two additional back bowls named after Vail’s founders, Pete and Earl. Originally called “Super Bowl” by Earl, they both knew that eventually Vail Mountain would also encompass this little slice of Heaven.
BLUE SKY TODAY
Having grown slightly since it’s opening, Blue Sky Basin now encompasses 645 acres of skiable terrain and three quad express lifts. With eighteen named runs including those of every skill level, mogul covered runs, and the best tree skiing on the mountain, there’s no shortage of skiers territory.
There’s more than enough to keep everyone finding something new for every run. All this riding can really take a toll. So, when your stomach reminds you of how much work you’ve done, make your way to the Dawg Haus for hot dogs and craft beers, or pack in your own lunch and head to Belles Camp for a classic on-mountain cook out.
One of the most talked about areas in Blue Sky is Lover’s Leap. Build up your confidence and huck, debatably, the most challenging drop-off on the mountain. A four-foot (approximately) cornice that flows into a short but steep black diamond run. Drop this cornice, if you dare, with all of your friends as well as those on the chair lift above watching.
Getting there is also an adventure. You can take an easy ride along the catwalk all the way down, or drop in at the top. Contrarily, start your day off with a bang and huck (jump off of) Dragon’s Teeth Cliffs right after you drop in from the top of Chair 14. To see some of the various other ways to get there, check out a trail map or ask around town.
Skiing in Blue Sky reminds you why you fell in love with the sport in the first place. Open terrain covered in white as far as you can see, deep powdery stashes, and wide trees to carve your way through provide enough room for anyone to play all day. This playground gives a backcountry feel accompanied by the comfort and luxury of staying on resort.