East Vail, Colorado

I am excited to share that my painting of East Vail, Colorado is complete! A few fans on Instagram reached out and asked if I would make it available for purchase. It is now available in my store.

Every time I drive west over Vail Pass I am struck by the magnificence of this sweeping basin and the avalanche chutes tumbling off the ridge.  

When Jason Blevins was visiting my studio while writing for my book, we flipped through my old photos when we came across an aerial picture I had taken years earlier. I asked Jason if he was familiar with it. 

Oh yes he was, he said. He had skied East Vail for many years. Vail had briefly considered the slope for a downhill race course but it was too prone to avalanches, he said. It brought back memories for him and I was enthralled as he related to me the history of Vail's founder Pete Seibert.  

The 10th Mountain Division soldiers trained in Colorado's high country in the 1940s.  Those soldiers played a critical role in beating back the Nazis in Italy during World War II, relying heavily on skills they honed in Colorado's high mountains around their base at Camp Hale.  And when those soldiers returned to the U.S. after the war, they forged today's ski industry, creating dozens of ski schools and ski areas across the country, including many in Colorado.  One of those soldiers, Pete Seibert, founded the Vail ski area in the early 1960s after touring open swaths of fire-ravaged basins that eventually became Vail's signature Back Bowls.

Jason told the story of Pete Seibert, veteran of the 10th Mountain Division and the founder of Vail, and local rancher Earl Easton spending hours climbing onto snowy mountain ridges high above the valley that would eventually grow into one of the country's most popular ski resort communities.  They named Vail after Charles Vail, the highway engineer who threaded Interstate 70 over Vail Pass.

Today, the steep US Forest Service land above the highway and East Vail is popular with knowledgeable and experienced backcountry skiers. I'll just leave this terrain to experts with the proper equipment and training. But it is so picturesque I decided I had to paint it.

This East Vail painting is just that, a painting,, not a map or navigational aid and should not be used as one.  And it goes without saying I'm not encouraging anyone to venture into the dangerous backcountry avalanche terrain above the interstate.  But it is a beautiful basin I wanted to capture on canvas.   I'm always impressed by the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains.  I hope you appreciate the rugged beauty of Colorado's mountains as much as I do. 

Below are a few progress pictures from the project