Vail’s Black Diamond Groomers

Apr. 1, 2015


Skiing China Bowl’s Poppyfields on spring mornings is a tradition among long time locals

Any given morning, Vail usually opens with at least half a dozen black diamond runs groomed over night. Many of these trails get groomed on a weekly basis, such as Riva Ridge, while others like Roger’s Run, are groomed only a few times each season.The reason for grooming these runs intermittently is to tame oversized moguls, avalanche mitigation, or just to create a new challenge for skiers.

021215_Vail_Roger'sRun2_RicMorenoControRoger’s Run is groomed a few times each season

In Vail, it goes without saying, that grooming is done on every aspect, elevation, and bowl of the mountain every single day. To find out which particular runs were groomed on a given night, you can check the daily grooming report which lists all runs with a fresh white carpet, including many black-diamond runs.

121014_Vail_Emperor'sChoice_RicMorenoControEmperor’s Choice in Teacup Bowl earning it’s name with a fresh white rug

A few days after the last storm has passed, Vail’s fleet of snowcats works overtime to groom as much terrain as possible.

1714_Vail_Headwall_RicMorenoControRoom to spare at The Headwall in SunUp Bowl 

12915_Vail_TheMeadows_RicMorenoControSome runs, like the lower section of Ramshorn near Mid Vail, might only get groomed once a season

These are some of the black-diamond runs that get groomed on a fixed schedule through out the season, unless snow conditions dictate otherwise.

Monday – Riva Ridge
Tuesday – Blue Ox
Wednesday – Gandy Dancer
Thursday – The Slot
Friday – Riva Ridge
Saturday – Blue Ox
Sunday – The Slot

DCIM100GOPROBlue Ox by Highline Express (#10) is one of the steepest and longest runs in Vail

Next powder day if you’re up on the mountain early try skiing a recently groomed trail with a few inches of snow on top and you’ll be grinning all day thanking Vail’s snowcat operators for their hard work. In spring, instead of waiting for snow to melt, which can sometimes happen as late as the afternoon, check the grooming report and stick to black-diamond groomers before they get tracked out and you’ll get twice as much skiing and riding in during the day.

Some people dismiss groomed runs in preference of other conditions, and while skiing knee deep powder or soft spring moguls makes for an epic day, Vail’s groomed terrain is pretty spectacular as well. Wind blowing through your head, not a screech of ice underneath, and  perfect effort-less turns can very easily be confused for extra light blower powder. With out the crowds of powder day mornings or spring afternoons, Vail black diamond groomers will make a believer out of you!

See Part 1 of this blog: A History of Grooming Snow

RicardoMorenoWriter Ricardo Moreno is a ski bum, mountaineer, cyclist, Mexican expat and translator who makes his home in the Colorado Rockies. He is also the Snow Reporter for Vail Mountain. http://www.poyuki.c