Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bluebirds and Bowls

What a perfect day. We opened Montezuma Bowl on a bluebird Colorado winter day. Thanks to everyone that came out and enjoyed the fun. The grooming was perfect and the powder was sweet. If you happen to know any of the Ski Patrollers, Snowcat Drivers, Lift Operators, or Lift Mechanics, be sure to thank them for all of their hard work getting the Bowl ready. I think these pictures tell it all.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Montezuma Bowl Opens Wednesday

The recent snow has been a tremendous boost for us this week. Montezuma Bowl will be opening Wednesday morning. A big chunk of the bowl from Bierstadt on the East to at least Long Chute on the West will be open totalling at least 17 trails and 200 acres. I have spent most of the last three days with our Mountain Operations staff skiing and working back there. This is Zuma's third season and it might be the best opening yet.

Here are some insider tips for places to ski:

Groomed Runs - Try either Columbine/Shining Light or Upper Larkspur/Independence. We put up some new snowfences last summer and the cat drivers were able to capture and push a great deal of snow. The trails coming off the top are simply groomed to perfection.

Powder - Northern Spy is the ticket. You have to slide across a narrow, slightly bony traverse, but once you get there it is amazing. This mini-bowl is wide open with good snow coverage. I took the time (actually several times) to verify its quality for you. You will love it.

Steeps - Long Chute is awesome. Most of the ground surface in Long Chute is soft tundra and the skiing is always good in there. It is a long, leg burner. Keep your eyes on Max, Groswold, and Durrance. I am not sure if those will open Wednesday, but there aren't far behind.

Adventure and Glade Skiing - Head for the 14'ers. This past summer our trail crew cleaned up the glades and really improved the skiing and riding in there. Yesterday I skied Bierstadt and the new lines are awesome. These runs are not for the faint of heart and require some work for your turns.

I know some of you have been holding out for more snow. As I write (Sunday afternoon) and look out my office window, it is dumping. The time for waiting is over. Yesterday I snuck in a couple of Pali runs. The skiing has really come around. End your hold out and get on up here. Powder days are best served with an early start. Hope to see you soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

5" New - 10" In 3 Days

Looking very good up here. I have spent the last couple days in Montezuma Bowl. It is getting very close. I need to get on the hill now, but look for big news in the next day or two. Today the skiing is going to be phenomenal and the Pali terrain is open all day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Greetings from Vancouver

I have had the great pleasure of spending a few days in Vancouver watching the Olympic Games. Being freestyle fans, my family and I spent the last two days watching the Men's and Women's Mogul Events. They were incredible. Many of the athletes might have looked familiar. Led by their coach Scott Rawles, the freestyle team has often had their spring and fall mogul camps at The Basin. The team's performance was extraordinary with all eight athletes qualifying for the finals.

We started Saturday with a very wet, cold and windy day at Cypress Mountain. The women's skiing was simply beautiful. It was incredible to see Team Summit alumni Heather McPhie qualify in third place. Hannah Kearney's gold and Shannon Bahrke's bronze medals were truly inspiring.

While the women's performance was typified by grace and power, the men's competition was dominated by speed and awe. American Bryon Wilson electrified the crowd with a double full on the top air and won a bronze medal.

For me the games and the beauty of Canada were made clear during yesterday's event. During the men's event we sat behind four Canadian men. As they sipped Molsons (without gloves and wearing jeans) we laughed, talked freestyle, and rapidly became best friends. As Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada's first gold medal on native soil, they celebrated and cheered. Before I knew it, these big tough guys were literally crying with joy and pride. It was cool.

The Canadians are putting on a great show. As there jingle goes, "They were made for this."

It seems like whenever I leave town, it starts snowing. I hear a nice storm has just blown through and the skiing is great. I am flying back tonight and can't wait to make a few turns tomorrow.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

President's Day Luau

I spent yesterday afternoon with Finnigan touring the mountain. It was another perfect bluebird Colorado day. The skiing in Lenawee Parks, The Knolls, Cornice Run, and Slalom Slope was outstanding. The snowcat drivers have groomed Dorsey's Downhill which is the connector from the Cornice Run to Norway. That is always one of my favorite lines. Again, we skied Montezuma Bowl. The upper 2/3 of Columbine was groomed to perfection. The lower 1/3 is improving. A couple of more good storms and we will get that baby open.

This weekend we are hosting our first President's Holiday Black Mountain Lodge Luau at BML deck. Saturday and Sunday Chef Ryback is smoking a couple of pigs and serving plenty of rum drinks on the deck. As always, leis will brighten up the atmosphere. I know we haven't had quite the number of powder days that everyone likes, but don't let that stop you from coming up and enjoying some beautiful weather and great skiing.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Beacon Bowl

Please join us Saturday, February 6 for The Beacon Bowl. Staff from the A-Basin Ski Patrol, Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), and Backcountry Access will be offering numerous clinics for beacons, snowpits, avalanche dogs, and general avalanche safety. All proceeds go to the CAIC. There will be some friendly beacon competitions.

To cap the day off there will be an apres ski party in the A-Frame with plenty of cheap beer and pizza. Raffle tickets will be available for all kinds of groovy prizes including shovels, probes, packs, and more. There is a big silent auction as well as a fun live auction led by A-Basin's finest, Tony C. Look for for very cool handmade, wood Ski Logic skis, K2 skis donated by Wildernest Sports, and a beautiful Cruiser Bike from the New Belgium Brewery.

All and all this a great party. Folks get a chance to learn or grow their avalanche safety skills while raising some dough for one of the state's greatest assets, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Please join us. For specific times and details go the events page of our website or

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Black Mountain Express

We have decided to name the new lift Black Mountain Express. Mark LaFlamme, our Snowmaking, Grooming, and Vehicle Maintenance Manager, was the first to suggest the name. Congratulations Mark and enjoy the $300 Gift Certificate at Arapahoe Sports.
Black Mountain is the rugged and jagged mountain that dominates the skyline immediately east of ski area. Just south of Black Mountain is Lenawee Mountain whose western flank is the East Wall. The final decision on the name was extremely challenging. We chose a name that reflects the terrain, will be timeless, and is part of the Arapahoe spirit. For many, Arapahoe Basin conjures an image of this dramatic mountain filling the Eastern sky. Thanks for a great suggestion Mark.
I received literally hundreds and hundres of suggestions including "Chairway to Heaven", "Quadzilla," and "Four Play." Thanks to all of you who played. Sorting through all these ideas was great fun and I enjoyed the email exchanges that many of us shared. Take care and think snow.