Year in and year out, thousands of people hit the slopes at Vail Mountain, from the legendary back bowls to the Look Ma run. Countless others visit the mountain to celebrate après culture and enjoy elevated dining experiences. But this year will be different. Coming off a record-breaking season, Vail Mountain will kick off the 2022-23 season by celebrating a milestone year.
Vail opened to skiers 60 years ago on December 15, 1962. After just five months of construction, the mountain opened to visitors with one gondola, two chairlifts, eight ski instructors and nine runs. The process to open took “a lot of determination, a lot of scrambling,” founder of Vail Ski Resort Pete Seibert said back in 1986.
Today, the mountain spans more than 5,300 acres of developed ski and snowboard terrain with countless runs and seven back bowls. This year’s 60th celebration will pay homage to Vail and the innovators, like Pete and others, who made the mountain resort what it is today.
“This season will be packed with celebration, and we’re going to be bringing forward so many amazing experiences from the past, but with a modern twist,” says John Plack, senior communications manager at Vail Resorts.
Vail will bring back its famous Look Ma Mogul Challenge this season. The event pays homage to the organic and haphazard mogul competitions that took place for many years at Vail. Open for anyone to participate in, this amateur mogul competition will showcase new-school and old-school bump skiers, costume contests and prizes. Dates and details will be announced later this season.
One of the most anticipated celebrations will take place at the Vail Mountain Ice Bars. How the ice bar came about is full of lore and legend, but according to John, a “pioneering young person piled up some snow at the resort and brought après to life.” This year, the iconic environment is back with two Ice Bars—one at Eagle’s Nest, which can be accessed with or without skis, and the other at Wildwood. Pack hand warmers and wool socks, though, because this open-air bar will be made entirely of ice and snow. The cocktails, frequent music and company, however, are sure to keep visitors warm and entertained.
For guests wanting to continue the ice-themed celebrations, snow bungalows will be available for rent at the Eagle’s Nest Ice Bar, creating an elevated, personal retreat right in the heart of Vail Mountain.
But that’s not all. Vail has several other happenings taking place for its 60th-anniversary celebration, including the opening of two new high-speed chairlifts. One will replace Game Creek Express, lift number 7, which was built in 1985. The other, lift number 17, connects the bottom of the Sun Up and Sun Down bowls to Wildwood.
Celebrations aren’t only for skiers and boarders, either. There will be a Birthday Bash taking place across the mountain with live music, celebration, events and, of course, après the week of December 15. There will also be “throwback signature menu items, classic events and fine art experiences that celebrate the resort in a fresh and modern way,” John says.
The season officially starts at Vail on November 11, but celebrations will take place all season long.
Vail Mountain is already thinking about the next 60 years, too—a time that’s sure to bring innovation, excitement and community. According to John, diversity, equity and inclusion will be Vail’s focus for the next 60 years.
“The next 60 years will build upon Vail Mountain’s position as the world’s premier mountain destination by leading the industry in a welcoming spirit that creates an opportunity for everyone to feel the excitement of the Legendary Back Bowls and beyond,” he says.