by: Clay King - 15th September 2011

  • 5
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Expert
  • 5All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 5Family Friendly
  • 1Nightlife
  • 4Terrain Park
  • Value
SNOW, breathtaking views, Montezuma Bowl, close parking
Slow lifts

Full review

A-Basin is not a resort. It is what you would call a "day area," with no lodging or village at the base. It is a throwback ski mountain, and it is all about the terrain. Since the Basin prides itself on its expert, hike-to terrain, it's a common misconception that there isn't much else available for non-extreme skiiers and riders. With the recent addition of Montezuma Bowl off the back and the Black Mountain Express lift at the base, this just is not true. First of all, this place gets the highest marks for being family friendly because the Black Mountain Express lift takes only 3 minutes and accesses 600 vertical feet of below-treeline beginner and intermediate runs. The experts will not return to the base area until the end of the day, so beginners will have this lift completely to themselves for most of the day, also meaning that those runs at the bottom of the mountain are very uncrowded. Since they are below treeline, newbies won't have to brave the same kind of conditions often present at the top of the mountain. Wrangler is one of the best beginner runs you'll get anywhere -- wide, smooth, and very evenly pitched. Second, Montezuma Bowl is incredible. Words will not do it justice, but it is comparable to China Bowl at Vail, with blue routes down the center of the bowl and black around the edges. Columbine and Larkspur are awesome. They are immaculately groomed, with a steep descent for the first couple hundred yards before flattening out with some swales that can be flown over. You could easily spend your entire day back here without getting bored. Also, Dragon, West Gully, and West Wall are all good fun on the front side. Of course, if you are seeking expert terrain, you don't need me to tell you that this is the place to be. You have lift-accessed terrain on Pallavicini, or you can hike the East Wall. Either way, you can't go wrong. This place is easily worth your time, especially if you have one of the 5-mountain passes through Vail Resorts (good at Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge, and Arapahoe Basin). Don't make the mistake of thinking you're wasting one of your days by spending it at A-Basin. You will be glad you came.
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