We are having a beautiful, crisp New Year's Eve. With a mix of blue skies and clouds, the mountains look extra dramatic. Tonight we will ring in the New Year (New York Time) at Black Mountain Lodge. With steak and lobster and music from The Schwingers, we should have quite the evening. Even better, I should be home in bed by the time midnight rolls around. Happy New Year.
Thursday, December 31, 2015
The Snowmakers are done for the season, and it was a good snowmaking season. We got off to a pretty slow start back in October. For too long, the weather was warm and dry. Luckily, starting about October 22, the switch flipped, the temperatures dropped and the snow began to fall. Mother Nature was very generous with her natural snow. That early snowpack helped raise stream levels facilitating more snowmaking for us. That natural stuff let us stretch the man-made snow faster and farther than normal. In the end, we got every place (that we can reasonably) covered with both the natural stuff and man made stuff. Thank you snowmakers.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Over the last several days the Ski Patrol Snow Safety Team has been hard at work prepping the East Wall. They have shot the avalauncher and they have run routes in several places including The Tree Chutes, North Pole, Humbug Chutes and Hidden Chute. A few small / medium slides have occured as a result of their work. They have done a combination of using explosives, ski cutting and ski packing. Typically, The Wall opens once the base gets in the 50'ish inch range.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
In the North end of the 2nd Floor of the A-Frame, we have added a new Family Zone. We painted the interior of the entire 2nd Floor and added a very nice "Kids Mural" depicting a view of The Basin through a child's eyes. There are learning toys, a changing station, mats and soft play features. Most importantly, there are a pair of couches for parents to kick back on. So bring the little ones. Many couples tag team watching the kids and making turns. From age 1 to age 29 and older, it is hard to beat hanging out at the ski area with your kids.
When we remodeled The 6th Alley Bar and Grill a couple years back, the area on the 2nd Floor above the bar was also included in the remodel. The upstairs portion of the bar is called "Marnie's in the 6th Alley." The new bar was named for Marnie Jump who was the First Lady of Arapahoe Basin. Downstairs, there is a display on Marnie and her husband Larry.
We added a counter and rail to view bands and increased the loft size. We added a groovy little nook with old triple chairs and a cool feel. We also added a whole bunch of tables and chairs. Finally, this year we added a small bar with six beer taps, Bloody Marys and most other drinks that would interest you. It will be open on busier days, mostly weekends and holidays. It also connects nicely to the outdoor deck we call The Perch. As temperatures warm up a little bit, The Perch will be a fantastic place to hang out.
You might even recognize the bartender.
Monday, December 28, 2015
Yesterday morning I took a spin out in Grays which is in the far Northeastern region of Montezuma Bowl that we call the 14'ers. There are three gladed runs out there named after the three 14,000 foot peaks closest to A-Basin (hardly more than a stone throw away). Those runs and peaks are Grays, Torreys and Bierstadt. Over the last couple of summers, the trail crew has cleaned up and enhanced the gladed areas a fair bit. They have really fun tree skiing. As you are heading that way on The Mountain Goat Traverse, be sure and stop at Elk Meadows and look over your shoulder at the expansive view of Montezuma Bowl. One of my favorites.
This morning the Terrain Park crew opened the High Divide Terrain Park just below the top of Black Mountain Express Lift. Today the park has eight features including two jumps, two boxes, two rails and two tower tubes. We will keep features down at the Banana Park (1/2 way down High Noon on the right side). You can look forward to the Treeline Terrain Park opening about mid-January.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Yesterday was a classic blue sky, brisk Colorado ski day. I did some more skiing in the MGD zone. Boy, is it skiing nicely. Great, long continuous fall lines. Late in the afternoon, the Ski Patrol opened a gap in the Bush Line closure offering access to Schauffler and Jump. If you are into skiing powder, you might have enjoyed this opening
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Enjoy the nice, morning view in Montezuma Bowl. One of the most common phrases I have heard the last few weeks is, "I can't believe how good the snow is for December." So true. We have enjoyed some exceptional turns this month. With so much terrain open, we have been having lots of fun. I seem to always gravitate back towards The Spine.
Next on the Ski Patrol's list is working on West Zuma Bowl - beyond MGD. They will continue to mix up new snow and wind transported snow with explosives and ski cuts. Before long we will have to start talking about that big area on East Side.
Friday, December 25, 2015
Thursday, December 24, 2015
This is a Bill Linfield photo of the A-Basin faithful patiently and diligently waiting for Zuma Bowl to open. Thanks to all of you that came out to enjoy the fun and the snow. Getting the Long Chute / MGD zone open was certainly a treat. Despite all of yesterday's excitement on The Back Side, there were other fun events happening on The Front Side. Gauthier and North Glade opened for the season. Great skiing in all directions. With 3" of new snow today, we will see plenty more. Wear that puffy this morning.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Late morning the rope dropped and skiers and riders enjoyed a great opening in Montezuma Bowl. We reported 8" of new snow (15" in 3 days). The Ski Patrol offered another great treat, opening the area between Larkspur and the Bush Line closure. Personally, I enjoyed a couple of great runs in Long Chute and Max. If you are into this be sure and thank the lift crew, cat drivers and ski patrollers when you see them. They put in a lot of work the last few weeks getting The Bowl ready. It was really good. Enjoy another impressive Dave Camara photo taken in Montezuma Bowl today.
............And it is snowing again.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Montezuma Bowl will open tomorrow Wednesday, December 23 about mid-day. This will be a good opening with most terrain open from Larkspur East through the 14'ers. While we have done a significant amount of grooming, this current snow storm will provide us with powder conditions. In the coming days we will likely see some steeper terrain West of Larkspur open. I had to use a photo from the files because it is snowing so heavily right now that all the pictures look like they are taken inside a ping pong ball.
With 3 inches new yesterday and 4 inches new today, you'd think we'd be in for some good skiing today. I think it will be even better than that. It is snowing nicely right now with a very white forecast the next 48 hours. I think today's skiers will feel like they are skiing a lot more than 4 inches.
Monday, December 21, 2015
I had a very fun day off Sunday skiing with my son Justin. We spent a few hours lapping Pali during a decent storm. Excellent snow was found across the North Side skiing Slalom Slope, No Name, Standard, Lower International, The Spine, The Face, and The Alleys. Pallavicini Lift's short ride time and comparatively large vertical access a tremendous amount of terrain offering a plethora of steep, fast and exciting skiing. My favorite lift........anywhere.
The whole family topped the day off with a drive to Denver, an authentic meal at The Thai Monkey Club and Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats at the Ogden Theater. Catch that band if you get a chance. They rocked the house. That was packing in a very full and fun day. We are lucky to be in Colorado.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Friday, December 18, 2015
Enjoy these pictures of our cat team working in tandem winching the Columbine Step. Usually, the winch cat anchors to one of several fixed anchors we have on the mountain. Other times, one cat can be the anchor while the other cat is lowered down. In today's case, the winch cat lowered a regular cat down "The Step." At the bottom the regular cat disconnected from the winch and free groomed the area leading to the base of Zuma Lift. When done, the regular cat re-connected to the winch cable and the winch cat pulled it back up "The Step." After doing this a few times, the snow becomes firmer and the cat can climb up on its own. Cool work that is time consuming.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Getting Montezuma Bowl open does take a little longer than getting much of the Front Side open for a few reasons. There is no snowmaking in Zuma. When we designed and built the trails, we did not do any earth work to minimize our impacts. Much of the ground is smooth tundra, but there are a few rough spots that take longer to get covered with snow. Grooming and dozing snow on the Back Side is more difficult and time consuming than on the Front Side. We have to do the cat work one step at a time leap-frogging our way down the hill. Whatever the drivers go down, they must come back up. If they don't get the snow prepared properly, the cats can't climb back up hill. We could get the snowcats (and the snowcat drivers) stuck back there and the drivers are not into the "stuck thing". They like to go home at the end of their shifts.
All the work makes for great skiing, it just takes a little longer. It is worth the wait.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
We have great news on the grooming front. For the first time this season, a snowcat made it to the bottom of Zuma Lift. Each year this event is a tremendous benchmark in our Montezuma Bowl snowfarming and snow management. The drivers have substantially compacted Columbine, Larkspur and Shining Light. There is still a tremendous amount of cat work to do but....................this is a very big deal. The forecast shows more unsettled weather over the next several days. More snow mixed with more compaction means good skiing heading our way.
Regarding the terrain where the snowcats don't go, we are making good progress in the Western half of the Bowl. Patroller Hagadorn is reporting good snow and good skiing in Long Chute. The pieces are coming together.
Who knows, we may have a holiday treat for everyone.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
With 8 inches of new snow today, A-Basin skiers and riders are enjoying another powder day. Saturday's 10 inches was a very light, blower pow kind of snow. Today's snow had just a little more body to it. I don't mean stiff or bad, just a little bit more body. The snow is excellent and is bonding to the older snow very nicely. Outstanding skiing. This storm is excellent for the "Zuma Project."
Sunday, December 13, 2015
After 10 inches and another big snowcat session in The Bowl, we are making significant progress in Zuma. The cats have now been down to the top of the Columbine Step, that last short, kinda' steep pitch on Columbine. The compaction really sets us up for the next storm coming tomorrow. The snowfence work has been particularly successful. The Ski Patrol has also been quite busy working MGD and West Zuma. Closer, closer, closer.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
It is official. We have had 10 inches of new snow since 5 AM this morning. The skiing is tremendous. I had a couple of particularly excellent runs on the left side of The Face and down The Spine on Pali. We may see another couple inches of snow tonight. We should have a break in the weather Sunday and the next wave of moisture is coming Monday. This will be good on many fronts. Pallavicini was open just about all day. Tonight and again tomorrow, the snowcat drivers will head back to Montezuma Bowl to pack out the new snow. The Ski Patrol has busy running avalanche routes in West Zuma. Good things today and more to come.
By report time today, snow had just barely started falling. It has been dumping since then. The Base Area crew has shoveled, re shoveled and re shoveled the walkways. I would say we have 4 inches since 5 AM and it is still snowing heavily. Today's early arrivers will be deeply rewarded. The way it is snowing, there won't be many signs of grooming out there. This is going to be a good one.