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Weather and Terrain

5 great powder runs in Vail

December 23, 2015
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After this month is over, Vail skiers are going to forget what is feels like to ski on hardpack! Powdery snow has been the story of December ... here's 5 great powder runs in Vail

1) Forever
When the powder is plentiful, you just don't want the run to end. Forever is just that, a run that lasts forever. Located in Vail's Sun Up Bowl, the run was named after Pepi Gramshammer, who, after skiing it before the area was serviced by a chairlift, had to hike back out and said "That took forever." It's also a great run on a powder day because it can be lapped with just one chair lift ride from bottom to top, unlike this next run ...

2) Riva Ridge
Riva Ridge is a great run on a powder day for the same reason as Forever -- the run is 4 miles long with a nice, sustained pitch, giving you plenty of time to enjoy some uninterupted floating on top of the powder. Unlike Forever, Riva takes two chairlift rides to get back to the top from the bottom -- either Chair 6 to Chair 11 from Golden Peak or Gondola One to Chair 4 from Vail. 

3) Blue Ox
Blue Ox is another long and steep run, perfect for powder days. It runs adjacent to the Highline run, which bears the same name as the lift that services the area. Why, then, is Blue Ox a better option than Highline on a powder day? Because Blue Ox is groomed twice per week, meaning you're less likely to find unexpected humps and bumps under the surface, which will keep you having to brace yourself. On Blue Ox, you can let your guard down a little and just cruise, knowing the surface is flat underneath. 

4) Ricky's Ridge
Ricky's Ridge is -- by now you're likely seeing the powder-day pattern -- long and steep. It's in Sun Up Bowl and is another run, like Forever, which has helped bolster the reputation of Vail's Back Bowls as among the best places in the nation to be on a powder day. Wide and expansive like the bowls themselves, Ricky's Ridge has very few trees and plenty of options for you to lay down a nice track in the untouched snow. Unlike Forever, it will take you two lifts to get back to Ricky's -- Chair 5 to Chair 3. It's named after the Switz Ricky Andenmatten, who was one of Vail's first ski instructors and undoubtly a powder hound.

5) Encore
While it takes a bit of a skate to get there, Encore is a long run that welcomes you to Blue Sky Basin in proper fashion -- with leg-burning stamina. Encore follows a similar line as the Chair 37 Skyline Express into Blue Sky, and is also one of the most direct runs out of the popular basin. Laps on Encore can be done with Chair 37 alone, and at the end of the day, as Blue Sky is closing, on a final "Encore on Encore" one can still find the untouched powder. 

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