How to Ski Arapahoe Basin's New Lift & Terrain

19th September 2018 | Heather B. Fried

News Regions: Colorado, Rocky Mountains, Summit County

Resorts in this article: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

How to Ski Arapahoe Basin's New Lift & Terrain- ©Dave Camara

Arapahoe Basin ski area opens new a new lift and terrain for the 18/19 ski season.

Copyright: Dave Camara

Known and beloved for its long ski seasons, insane terrain and laidback, locals vibe, Arapahoe Basin ski area in Summit County, Colorado is treating skiers and riders to even more steeps, glades and intermediate groomers for the 18/19 ski season. After The Steep Gullies and a portion of The Beavers opened as in-bounds, hike-back terrain for the 17/18 ski season, the new fixed-grip quad, Leitner-Poma Beavers chairlift is being constructed as we speak to provide lift access to 339 of the 468 new skiable acres (the rest of which will remain hike back). 

 

A-Bay Powder Day

 

Needless to say, A-Basin has been busy as a... but Marketing & Communications Manager, Adrienne Saia Isaac, made some time to fill us in on what to expect from the new runs and Beavers Lift this season

OnTheSnow: When do you expect The Beavers Lift to be done and operational? 


Adrienne Saia Isaac: Construction on The Beavers Lift will be completed at the earliest in late October, but I’m thinking a November completion date is more likely. The Beavers and The Steep Gullies areas are all natural snow. Opening and closing dates will be moving targets as we monitor early season coverage and learn more about how to manage the terrain. I’ve personally skied it in December (when it was out of bounds) with a strong early season, but January/February are more likely (especially for the really steep and rocky parts of The Steep Gullies). 

OTS: Will the terrain over in that area remain hike back until the lift is open or will they all open together? 


ASI: The Beavers terrain will be lift served once opened. The Steep Gullies will remain hike back. The terrain will open according to snowfall and conditions; it is possible to open one pod without the other (like Montezuma Bowl or the front side). Within The Beavers, certain runs can open without the entire thing being open as there are a few entrances from the summit. 

OTS: How was the reception of Arapahoe Basin's new terrain last season? 


ASI: It was awesome. Seriously, people really seemed to love it. As someone who skied it in its past iteration, it was fun to have the same lines without the downed tree obstacles. Other folks loved the views, how remote it felt this past season, and the new steeps. People who skied the Gullies commented that this terrain moves us into an echelon of extreme terrain with mountains like Crested Butte and Telluride.

And the rest of the terrain is just really fun; I took a group of friends who don’t normally like to hike back there last season to experience Loafer, the western-most intermediate groomed run. They all agreed that the rolling lines, snow quality and little pitches were worth the hike out! They’ll be really stoked now that it will be lift-served. 

Arapahoe Basin new Trail Map.

Arapahoe Basin new Trail Map.

Copyright: https://www.arapahoebasin.com/uploaded/trail%20maps/A-Basin_1819_frontside.jpg

OTS: When you say that this is the “most challenging skiing at Arapahoe Basin,” does that mean more so than the East Wall?


ASI: “Challenging” is all relative, so different runs are going to feel more or less challenging for different skiers. The Steep Gullies terrain is similar to the unnamed runs on the East Wall—they are the real deal, steep, rocky, couloir skiing. If you stand for the steeps, this is the terrain for you. The feeling is similar to First Notch and Second Notch on the East Wall, but to me it’s more challenging than North Pole or Willy’s Wide. 

I want to note that The Beavers will have more varied terrain, from intermediate groomers to advanced tree skiing. If you don’t mind hiking out, you can also ski The Beavers passed the lower lift terminal (through the Bald Spot or The Cellar) and scout some of the Steep Gullies from below on the traverse to the hike-back trail. 

The Steep Gullies terrain is similar to the unnamed runs on the East Wall—they are the real deal, steep, rocky, couloir skiing.  - © Hal Hartman

The Steep Gullies terrain is similar to the unnamed runs on the East Wall—they are the real deal, steep, rocky, couloir skiing.

Copyright: Hal Hartman

OTS: What do skiers and riders need to know about catching The Beavers Lift? 


ASI: The way the terrain funnels to the bottom, you won’t be able to miss the big lift terminal. All hike-back areas accessible from The Beavers are well marked with big signage similar to what you see at the East Wall entrances. 

Side note: At Telluride a couple seasons ago, there was a sign facing the lift that said “Bad Idea” with a frowny face on it. I wondered why it faced the lift. When I got off the lift, I saw why the sign was placed there—it looked INCREDIBLE and untouched from the top but led into a FLAT drainage with unconsolidated snow. It would have been a total slog on the way out. READ THE SIGNS!

A new perspective at Arapahoe Basin for the 18/19 ski season.  - © Dave Camara

A new perspective at Arapahoe Basin for the 18/19 ski season.

Copyright: Dave Camara

OTS: Are there any thoughts/plans around adding a lift from The Steep Gullies over to the base or up to Beavers at some point? 


ASI: NO. The Steep Gullies are a rugged area and will remain hike back. The terrain in that area does not lend itself to a lift (plus, there’s something kind of special, in my opinion, about earning that run in the Gullies). And since you’re hiking back, it’s a great way to debrief with your ski partners and plan your next line! 

The hike back from The Steep Gullies.  - © Dave Camara

The hike back from The Steep Gullies.

Copyright: Dave Camara

OTS: Anything to add? 


ASI: In my opinion, the gladed skiing in The Beavers is some of the best in Summit County, and it’s awesome to be able to finally have some more great tree runs at Arapahoe Basin because so much of our existing terrain is above treeline. Perfectly-spaced trees, great pitches and the runs hold really great snow. My recommendations are the “dog woods” (Alex, Jaeger, Jetta and Digger), named for A-Basin’s first avalanche rescue dogs, and the steeper pitches of Thick & Thin and Bailey Bros. There’s a lot of room to play and plenty of fun lines to choose from.

 

Ski Resort Historically 1st to Open 

Arapahoe Basin's new Steep Gullies have been likened to the extreme terrain at mountains like Crested Butte and Telluride.  - © Liam Doran

Arapahoe Basin's new Steep Gullies have been likened to the extreme terrain at mountains like Crested Butte and Telluride.

Copyright: Liam Doran

Gallery

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A-Basin ski area upgrades - © Dave Camara
The Beavers and the Steep Gullies, A-Basin - © Dave Camara
The Steep Gullies, Arapahoe Basin - © Hal Hartman
Steep Gullies hike back, Arapahoe Basin, Colorado - © Dave Camara

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