Disney looked into opening a year round ski resort in the early 80's. They bought land on a lake in California. They had a sharing agreement with the Aspen Ski Co. Disney would teach the Aspen managers how to move people through lift lines, and the Ski Co. would show Disney how to manage a ski area. At the end of three years, Disney gave up the idea. It was a poor use of capital in their analysis. You have to invest in both a winter and summer infrastructure. One half of your capital is always idle, not earning money, and both are idle for four months of the year, eg April, May, October, November. In the end, they realized that you need a warm weather climate to fully realize a good return on your investment. Vail is a well run organization, but it is not a Disney.
I think your observations about the snow conditions are reasonable. However, it has been warm all week, and the slopes are getting skiied off by the traffic. I based my outlook for poor snow on the five day forecast in the snow report on Vail's web-site.
These posts are not that long, why are they being cut off?
Concerning the near term outlook, it does not look that poor to me, see http://grads.iges.org/pix/prec1.html While I only check these maps on a weekly basis, they did predict above average snow for the first 3 weeks in December and the current dry spell.
Last post cutoff, but I went to say the coverage is good on the green/blue runs right now.
Another problem is the perception that less terrain is open since the areas have expanded into more extreme terrain (Copper Bowl, Peak 7, Outback's South Bowl, WP's Vasquez Ridge) which requires more snow to open and this terrain simply will not be open for Christmas. So the percentage of terrain open is going to be less than it use to be, but the actual acreage open is about normal. Another problem, in my opinion, is that all the high speed lifts have eliminated lift lines but put everyone on the slopes, causing more skier traffic and use on the thin early season snow, causing conditions to deteriorate more rapidly.
Yes the conditions are poor compared to the end of January, but they really are about average for this time of year. I guess I have seen worst, like 1980 when Breckenridge could only open for 3 days (12/26 to 12/28) over the holidays, and did not really open for the season until 2/14/81. I think Keys