High Noon Express #5 – Vail, CO

Top station unloading area.
Drive station from below with the work chair.
Another view of the drive from below.
Looking down the lift line.
Looking down the lift line.
This was the first LPA lift ever built.
View up the middle part of the line.
Lower lift line.
Bottom station and towers 1-2.
Return terminal.
Loading area and work chair.
View up from the base.
Another view of the bottom station.
Riding up the line.
Middle lift line.
Tower 9.
Arriving at the drive.

28 thoughts on “High Noon Express #5 – Vail, CO

  1. Donald Reif August 30, 2019 / 9:15 am


  2. Raj Thorp February 9, 2020 / 7:10 pm

    This is a link to a short documentary about high noon


    • Lift Expert December 8, 2020 / 6:41 pm

      Wrong, it is a documentary of Leitner-Poma’s New LPA terminals.


      • Donald Reif December 8, 2020 / 9:31 pm

        It used High Noon to show them off.


  3. snow boys February 9, 2020 / 7:16 pm

    Yesterday high noon’s lines were 2 and a half hours long I heard.


    • Donald Reif February 9, 2020 / 8:50 pm

      It’s days like this when that proposed Sun Down Express lift would be rather useful. Then again, “days like this” are probably not very common.

      The anecdotes on the Reddit thread are interesting, as they note that evidently, Beaver Creek had almost zero crowds while the Back Bowls lifts at Vail were bursting out of the mazes like this. Which must be a result of Beaver Creek not having quite as much bowl terrain as Vail, and having ample detachable lifts to move everyone around.

      Also, this was taken in the morning, and the High Noon Express’s bowls were the first of the Back Bowls to open that day as the Teacup and China Bowls, and Blue Sky Basin, didn’t open until much later due to avalanche mitigation work.


      • BarkeeStone February 9, 2020 / 9:55 pm

        The lines look _sooo_ bad that the costumers will be mad of how Vail Resorts doesn’t solve theses problems. Then yet again Colorado is overshadowed by the world as the best skiing country in the U.S. and times like these are very stressful to handle.


  4. jcpierce05 February 9, 2020 / 9:41 pm

    Im sorry to rant, but in my opinion Vail needs to publicly apologize for the mess this weekend. It happened two days in a row. I get messing up for one day and having over crowded lifts, but own your mistake and don’t have it happen again. Vail is charging $219 for an adult lift ticket and they can’t invest in a quality lift, and maintain the crowds on the mountain. Also they can’t pay their lifties living wages. Maybe the people at Vail didn’t think to manage the crowds by 1) only allow parking in the Vail Village and Lionshead garages and tow people who parked on the side of the road. 2) Do not sell day passes or reduce the amount of day passes sold that day and only have season pass holders and people who purchased lift tickets online to come. 3) Get more ski patrol to help open up more of the mountain. Pay them overtime. $219 lift tickets should be able to cover that. And then for Vail to respond to all of the negative comments on instagram with ” We appreciate your patience as we continue to mitigate risk after this top five snowfall on record. Avalanche risk remains high and our Mountain Operations teams, along with Ski Patrol, are working hard to manage this historic snowfall and reopen more terrain as soon as possible.” is completely unacceptable. I understand that they got plummeted with snow and in a short time, and I understand closing Blue Sky Basin and some of the front side but I felt like this was on the excessive side of the closing. Maybe nobody wants to work there because they charge $219 and cant pay their workers enough. I love lifts and especially new lift projects, but Vail really needs to update their software more than anything. On the EpicMix app, it said the line for this lift was 10 minutes. I think that line is way more than 10 minutes. Vail just needs to take a step back, re do some things, and make a public apology. Thanks for reading this if you made it this far.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Donald Reif February 9, 2020 / 10:39 pm

      I believe there were a number of times when the old triple chairlift got hammered with lines of this size after a big snowfall, which I think were at least partially a reason for the high speed quad upgrade ten years ago. I don’t have ready access to the pictures, but I know I’ve seen them.

      Also, I’m pretty sure this is one of those super rare events that Vail probably doesn’t have a contingency for because days when the lines get this backed up generally aren’t all that often.


    • Donald Reif February 9, 2020 / 10:53 pm

      Next weekend shouldn’t be nearly as bad since it’s going to be President’s Day Weekend, when Epic Local pass has blackout dates.

      This here is not a typical situation, but, user Ov3rKoalafied said it best on the Reddit thread: ” this weekend was a bit of an anomaly in that it was so much snow that some resorts couldn’t even open, and the resorts that did open couldn’t open everything, or at least were delayed in doing so. So it was a combination of a peak season quantity of people with a very low amount of actual skiing open at the start of the day. From what I’ve heard it was really only the base lifts / some chokeholds that were an issue. While an hour wait at the base sucks, I’d gladly take that wait to then get the rest of the day in tons of powder.”

      Oh, and there are anecdotes that the crowds were also bad at the other resorts, including several of the IKON areas, so this was not exclusively a Vail problem.


    • Ryan Murphy February 10, 2020 / 12:11 am

      They can’t rush terrain openings. If it isn’t safe it isn’t safe. Period. And leaning on the side of extra control, especially with a wet layer on top of a dry layer, is never a bad thing. Any mountain which has had an inbounds slide will tell you that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Donald Reif February 10, 2020 / 8:05 am

        Yeah. It’s the perfect storm of, “everyone’s coming up to ski because there’s been a big snowfall. Even though you’d like to get all your terrain open as quickly as you can to spread out skier traffic, that’s just not possible because if you rush opening the terrain, and something happens, you’re gonna be found liable.”

        Source: I know a lot about this as a regular at Breck, which has a lot of bowl terrain and where the booms of avalanche blasting that I hear while I’m in other parts of the mountain are a fact of life.

        In fact, I think Vail even had a deadly inbounds slide in the Northwoods Express lift’s pod a couple years ago.


        • afski722 February 10, 2020 / 10:16 am

          Vail doesn’t have a lot of terrain that they typically have to do much avy control, but with that much snow and the way it came down, there additional areas that they have to control. The usual areas are the cliff areas on N/S. Rim under Northwoods, the east side of China Bowl under Teacup Express, occasionally a couple of lines on the east side of Sun Up (Cows Face, Chicken Yard), a few lines inInner Mongolia (Red Square, Rasputins), and of course a bunch off the cornice in Blue Sky under Skyline Express.

          There was an inbounds slide death in the Northwoods area on Prima Cornice a few years ago. There was a lot of debate that ultimately went to trial since it was a teen who supposedly skied through an open gate and they debated whether or not he hiked uphill into a closed area through an open gate into the area that ultimately slid.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Donald Reif February 10, 2020 / 9:45 am

      This is awesome management, Vail prioritizing the safety of their guests and employees over opening terrain before it’s determined safe. Especially with the high avalanche danger. Do you really think Vail should’ve been taking chances and risked an inbounds avalanche?

      Any staffing shortages are likely a result of staff not living close by, and being unable to get to work because of road closures.


      • jcpierce05 February 10, 2020 / 10:03 am

        You all have great points, and mountain safety is a priority but im just saying that Vail should have limited the amount of people allowed on the mountain. I think when people envision spending $219 per day on a day pass, they dont see standing in line for 2 hours. Even discounted tickets would have been nice for all those people.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Donald Reif February 10, 2020 / 11:42 am

          Here was the lift on Sunday: ski-up to the lift.


    • Stewart Kristiansen February 14, 2020 / 1:55 pm

      That was a crazy weekend. But chair 5 has some of the shortest lines on the mountain except for I guess when china bowl is closed.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. afski722 February 10, 2020 / 10:06 am

    As others have said, this was a perfect storm of multiple events happening all together to create the epic lines seem this weekend a few resorts. What I’ve seen Vail had some of the worst, but I saw a pic of insane lines on the T-Bar at Breck.
    You had a well-hyped and predicted storm that led to many people pre-positioning in the mountain towns, it hit over a weekend, people have been relatively powder-starved so far this season (plenty of snow, just not in huge dump quantities like this one), limited terrain openings due to avy control work, and everyone literally showing up for first chair and rope-drops.

    The lines for Gondola One were pretty insane Friday morning, but 6 Riva Express was apparently down, so taking out one of the base area lifts in the morning.

    High Noon Express is bad since its the only way out, and you are already committed to that line when you get to the bottom.

    This isn’t the first time this has happened but its a pretty rare event, typically when the traffic can’t disperse out to Blue Sky Basin. I remember closing day in April 2013, they got about 18″ overnight. Beaver Creek & Keystone were already closed for the season. Vail had already closed Blue Sky Basin, China Bowl & beyond etc. Gondola One had an hour wait at 8:30, and the line for High Noon Express was over an hour since it was the only bowl terrain open that day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donald Reif February 10, 2020 / 12:46 pm

      I would say that the crowding is easily mitigated even if just the China and Teacup Bowls can open. I remember November 2010 when Vail got enough snow early in the season that they were able to open the Orient Express and Teacup Express lifts by Thanksgving. There were no lines on the mountain at all, though most of that probably had to do more with the fact that it was also in the single digits despite it being a sunny day. Blue Sky Basin wasn’t open due to mitigation work on the cornice, while the Sun Down Bowl and most of the Sun Up Bowl were closed because the High Noon Express lift wasn’t yet completed (the lift wasn’t completed until early December).

      And I said this before, but long lines like at the High Noon Express this past weekend also happened with the triple chairlift back in the day.


  6. Donald Reif January 6, 2021 / 6:56 am

    High Noon and Sun Up can be used to show just how much LPA has transitioned in their lift designs. They both have the same grips and terminals, but High Noon uses the older Omega chairs (which are still used on fixed grip lifts), 1994-2012 lifting frame design, and the gold Poma swoosh logo, while Sun Up uses LPA chairs (introduced to high speed quads around 2014 or 2015), the current lifting frame design, and the red Leitner-Poma logo.


  7. Myles Svec February 8, 2021 / 7:44 am

    Another High Noon fiasco this weekend. They really need to install that Sundown lift.


    • pbropetech February 8, 2021 / 8:21 am

      What sort of fiasco are you referring to?


      • Donald Reif February 8, 2021 / 8:28 am

        Once again, long lines that are the product of the China Bowl and Blue Sky Basin being closed.


  8. Tyler February 8, 2021 / 7:55 am

    I was up there yesterday and remembering the adventure from this weekend last year. High winds had everything else on the back closed on a sunny Sunday. Patrol roped off the entire chair 5 pod around 11am for the day to get everyone out.

    The day before, with the entire back open and a foot plus of new snow, 5 was empty and everyone was crowding around Blue Sky.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Skristiansen August 8, 2021 / 6:59 pm


  10. Donald Reif December 8, 2021 / 5:58 am

    When the Sundown Express goes in, I keep wondering how they’re going to fit in its return station into the tight space at this point in the gulch given High Noon’s presence. Part of me keeps thinking, based on this…

    …that they might take out the High Noon lift maze on the downhill side and use that as Sundown’s lift maze. And they’ll have to regrade some of the terrain in the gulch to put the return station in.


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