With winter only a couple of months away, most of us are already preparing to go into hibernation for the holidays. The winter season has always been infamous for chilly evenings, lazy mornings, heavy snowfall and the occasional sneeze and cough. However, winters too can truly be enjoyed with some adventure filled activities which are sure to compel you to get out of your beds and get onto the snow. One such location which would entirely change your view about winters is The Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.
Arapahoe Basin or the A-Basin as it is often called is a well-known legend nestled in the Rocky Mountains of the United States which enjoys a scenic location south of the Loveland Pass in Summit County. The alpine ski area of Arapahoe Basin in Colorado offers some of the highest terrain in North America for skiing. It is one of those very few adventure sports that not only offer an adrenaline filled vacation but also provide an extended season that usually lasts until early June, and sometimes up till early July. It majorly offers activities such as open bowl skiing and snowboarding all through spring and into early summer, unlike most other northern ski areas which shut down in early April.
The Arapahoe Basin Ski Area can be accessed via 8 lifts in total with one high-speed detachable quad called the Black Mountain Express, one quad chair called the Zuma Lift, one triple chair called the Lenawee Mountain Lift, three double chairs called Pallavicini Lift, Norway Lift, and Molly Hogan Lift and two conveyor lifts called Molly’s
Magic Carpet and Pika Place. Each lift has a capacity of approximately 10,700 people per hour.
Even though Arapahoe Basin is mostly known for its highly advanced and expert terrain, it also offers ski trails for the rookie and intermediate level skier along with a program suitable for children. For those who have recently learnt how to ski, the easy runs can be accessed via Molly Hogan, The Black Mountain Express, The Gulch (running parallel to Black Mountain Express) and Molly’s Magic Carpet lifts services.
One of the most advanced trails, known as The Exhibition run consists of a steep terrain, numerous bumps and a fair number of jumps. The Pallavicini lift service can access most of the black and double black terrain lying on the west side of the mountain. It also services the extremely difficult Pallavicini face, which is rated double black diamond extreme and consists of a large number of mogul runs which are very steep and seemingly endless in nature. Skiers can also access blues, blacks, and the East Wall via the Lenawee and Norway lifts which take people to the top of the mountain. Another exciting area to ski lies opposite of the East Wall where one can find a blue called Cornice Run. Here skiers can take leaps from windblown cornices. However, the low visibility in this area often proves to be a deterrent. Also worth exploring is the Montezuma Bowl in the Arapahoe Basin which offers everything right from groomed intermediate runs to advanced cornice runs. The Montezuma Bowl can be accessed via the Zuma lift which opened during the 2007–2008 season and services blue, black and double black trails on the rear end of the Arapahoe Basin. The East Wall is hands down the most difficult terrain in the Arapahoe Basin. The lower part of East Wall has a black diamond rating and can be reached without hiking. However, the Upper East Wall with a double black diamond extreme rating is open primarily in late winter and spring and can only be accessed on foot. A hike of about 30 minutes will take you to the North Pole, which has a very steep and rocky terrain situated in an avalanche-prone territory. Along the ridge just before the North Pole lies a group of chutes which can be accessed through notches in the cliff band. One such chute requires some skilled rock down climbing in order to reach the skiable snow, which proves to be quite an interesting experience in ski boots while holding onto a pair of skis. These chutes are fairly difficult to traverse as they are only about a couple of ski widths wide and therefore demand good mountaineering skiing ability. Most of the terrain in the Arapahoe Basin is extremely prone to avalanches and therefore is regularly blasted by the ski patrol team before they declare the wall open.
Vertical rise: 2,530 ft.
Base elevation: 10,780 ft. (Mountain Goat Plaza); 10,520 ft. (lowest point)
Summit elevation: 13,050 ft.
Average annual snowfall: 350 inches
The Arapahoe Basin offers several lodge facilities, hotels, condos, etc. for the visitors, in addition to a cafeteria, bar, and coffee bar. There is also a grill provision outside for enjoying warm barbeque Sundays. One can also find the popular Snow Plume Refuge, a cozy restaurant hut with a serene ambience at the peak of the Lenawee and Norway lifts hut which offers a magnificent view of the Continental Divide. Another favorite hangout of tourists in the Arapahoe Basin is the Black Mountain Lodge which is located at the summit of the Black Mountain Express lift.
It also serves delicious bistro style food both indoors and outdoors. Apart from this, the Legends Cafe which is located just at the foot of the mountain, serves breakfasts and lunches and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The Arapahoe Basin also offers an excellent retail facility located near the A-Frame base lodge called ‘Arapahoe Sports.’ This store has everything that one needs for the hill, including helmets, goggles, and the latest Arapahoe Basin logo wear and stickers. It also offers cloth rental facility where you can rent clothing starting from $10 per item. So go ahead and enjoy skiing and other activities in the Arapahoe Basin with your family and friends!
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