Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hiking Out Of The Beavers And Steep Gullies

We are still getting lots of questions about hiking out of The Beavers. This is a paradigm shift for some and will take adjusting to some peoples' mindsets. For this season and for hiking out of The Steep Gullies in future seasons, hiking out of this zone is going to be much easier than it has been in the past. If you stay in-bounds, all routes eventually lead to either the Grand Portage or The Steep Gullies Hike Back Trail. The Grand Portage meets The Steep Gullies Hike Back Trail at Rendezvous Point. From Rendezvous Point, there is a relatively easy 30 minute uphill hike to the bottom of Pali Lift. For strong, fit skiers and riders, this hike will only be 15 minutes.

This new hike will be visually more appealing than hiking up to the road and hitch hiking. It will be physically much easier (no climbing up that steep, loose fill bank). It will be  logistically much easier (no hitch hiking and walking across the parking lots). It will save time and make the experience of getting back to Pali much more enjoyable.

The ski area boundary around The Beavers will be closed with the exception of a "Backcountry Access Point (BAP)" along the Western boundary above timberline. If you choose to exit the ski area boundary through the BAP, you are on your own and may want to hike up to the highway. If you stay in-bounds, you cannot cross the closed boundary. If you stay in-bounds there is no hiking up to the highway.

I know some people are adamant about continuing to hike up to the highway. I encourage you to check out this new route. You will discover how much nicer, easier and cleaner of a way it is to ski this terrain and return to Pali Lift.

From the Summit webcam this morning

Friday, September 29, 2017

Faceshot Gully

Face Shot Gully, directly West of the West Wall Saddle, is another great run out in The Beavers. The name is a common one used around here for decades. I think its origin is clear. This summer we did some minor glading in an area that was already extraordinary skiing. More good skiing and riding. Check out the old, wooden ski I found in The Gully a few years ago. I am sure there was quite a story back in the day. I am curious how old that binding is.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Somewhere Along The Colorado River

Have you ever wondered what Rio does when we are not open for skiing? Well, it turns out she is a pretty decent river dog. She stinks a bit when she is wet, but so do most of us. Between swimming, hiking and floating, she is a fun critter to hang out with.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Snowmaking Moose

Good to see a moose out there enjoying the snow.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

22 F This Morning

At dawn this morning, the temperature at mid-mountain was 22 F.  The snowmakers had another good session. Getting a September snowmaking start is good. The North facing slopes are still holding snow. The forecast for the week shows a bit of rain and snow. I suspect things will just get whiter as the week goes on.

Friday, September 22, 2017

They're Back

It is that time of year. The Ski Patrol is in the midst of their annual four day refresher. They will be practicing and training emergency medicine, explosives handling and safety, lift evacuation and a variety of other tasks. While many of patrollers work at The Basin during the Summer, it is fun to catch up with those that have been working (or playing) across the country and around the world. It is good to have them back.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Disc Golf Update and Summary

Today our crack Disc Golf crew took down the course for the season. Thanks to all of you that came up and enjoyed a round or two. This Summer we added six holes giving us a total of nine. It was exciting to see the great turnout. I must say, more people showed up to play than I expected which is great. It was also great to see people not only enjoying the course, but enjoying a bite and a beverage with their friends at The 6th Alley. No promises just yet, but we are working hard on figuring out and the getting the approvals for another nine holes. Ben has a preliminary map and vision for the back nine.

Thanks again to everyone that participated.

Snowmakers Are Ready

The Snowmakers are ready. They have spent the week training. All of the equipment is out on High Noon and in the base area and is ready to go. We are staffing key periods. We are checking the forecast six times a day and the checking the actual temperature more than that.

It looks like we may have a rainy/snowy weekend. Right now it appears that it may be too warm to make snow, but we will keeping watching. You never know.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thick and Thin

Thick and Thin is one of the new gladed trails in The Beavers. It will be easily accessible by getting on the Davis trail in the West Wall saddle. This can be done from either the top of Pali or the Summit. Skiers and riders will find some incredible tree skiing. The trail has a North facing aspect. Not only will it hold a lot of snow, but the snow quality will be superb.

When the A-Basin founders started building the ski area in 1946 they built a sawmill on the flat portion of middle Sundance (aka Sawmill Flats). Pictures of the sawmill can be found on the walls of the A-Frame. In an effort to make the logging process a sound venture, they formed the "Thick and Thin Lumber Company."

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lingering Snow

There is still a bit of lingering snow in the very highest reaches of the ski area. Looking at the forecast, the Upper Mountain should see a lot of sunshine the next few days with highs in the 50's. I suspect all or most of the remaining snow will be gone soon. The snow is kind of a wake up/reminder that winter is getting closer. We are looking at the temperatures every morning. It was 33 F when I arrived today. Probably in another week or two I will be writing a blog saying that snowmaking has started.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Zuma Bearings

Our Lift Maintenance crew is in the process of completing another very big project. This time on Zuma Lift. The team de-tensioned the lift at the top terminal, lowered the bullwheel down to some cribbing, replaced the main bearings, re-attached the bullwheell and re-tensioned the lift. It is a difficult job requiring lots of patience and precision work. Always, hug your friendly lift mechanic.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Little Snow

Check out the snow on our webcams this morning !!!!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fall Color

It is definitely Fall up here in the valley of the North Fork of the Snake River.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Loafer and Davis ????

OK, some, but not all of you, have to be wondering where the names Loafer and Davis came from. When Ralston Purina bought A-Basin in 1978, they did a wonderful job overhauling the lifts, renovating the buildings and, generally speaking, giving The Basin a great boost. They also caused a little grumbling by changing a lot of trail names including all of those on the Lower Mountain.

Wrangler was Lark. North Fork was The Brook Trail. Sundance was Davis. High Noon was Loafer. Ramrod was Molly Hogan.  Being nostalgic and tipping our hat to the original founders, we are bringing back some of those original names with Loafer and Davis. I am not sure the origin of Loafer, but Davis is named after Slim Davis. He was one of the original Forest Service Rangers at A-Basin and he was very involved with ski area development throughout Colorado. He was a true Colorado Ski Pioneer.

Below is a 1965 Ski Patrol Work Map showing many of the old names. And, yes, the T-50 Poma ran from near mid-mountain, up Radical to near the top of Pali. Enjoy the map.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Davis Grading

We have now completed our grading on Davis. This trail starts at the West Wall Saddle. It is easily accessible from either the Top of Pali or The Summit. The upper portion of Davis is a graded cat walk. The trail will provide access to some tremendous tree skiing in Face Shot Gully, Thick and Thin, Bailey Brothers and all the terrain in between. There are some good lines above Davis (far skiers' right of Ptarmagin) that will be impacted by the cat walk, but with the exceptional tree work our saw crew has done below, we have, overall, really, really enhanced the skiing. Skiers can come off the Summit, ski the far right side of Ptarmagin, negotiate the Davis crossing and have a ripping run through the glades below. If you have the legs and lungs, this will be a sweet, 1,500 vertical foot, non-stop ski to the bottom of The Beavers Lift (2018-19 season).

The trail crew has done some really fine work re-vegging this grading. Our excavation contractor made the cat walk as small as possible. The staff saved a lot of the original tundra sod and replanted it. Native seed was spread across bare soil and re-veg mats were installed. The mats provide shade for seedling and allow moisture to stay in place. They also slow water and minimize erosion. The mats are quite visible now, but over a year or two, the plants regrow and the mats degrade naturally. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Zuma Cornice

It was a very nice back in Montezuma Bowl.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Last Patches

Within the ski area boundary, I think there are two small patches of snow left out on the Cornice Run. There are some years that patches in this zone never completely melt before snow starts accumulating again in October. These patches are getting pretty small so I am not sure if they will last another month or not. While not skiable, snow left in September is still a bit noteworthy.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Getting Snowmaking Ready

Our snowmaking team is working hard getting the system ready to go. The fan guns are out on the hill. Last week we started diverting water and the reservoir should be full soon.

Each snowamking fan gun requires water from a hydrant and a pipeline and high voltage electricity. We have literally miles and miles of buried snowmaking water pipelines and power lines. Over the summer weird things happen, ground shifts, critters chew lines, pipes rust, etc. Last week the team checked all the power supplies. All the guns were working well. This week we will start pumping water to test the pumps, the pipelines and the hydrants.

Our typical start date for snowmaking is late September or early October. Mother Nature calls that shot.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Little Lenawee Peak

I spent most of Friday out wandering (walking and driving) on the hill checking on current projects. I started over in the Lower Alleys and ended up on The Summit. On a nice little side hike, I walked to the Middle East Wall gate and ventured out on The Wall a little bit. The wildlife viewing was excellent, seeing mountain goats, marmots, pikas and a coyote. The views of Little Lenawee Peak from that zone are particularly good.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Top O' Pali Grading

Our Summer Projects have also included some grading near the top of Pallavicini Lift. We achieved two objectives. One, we widened the unload area a bit to the South. As people like to gather and talk and catch up, space for milling around has always been in short supply there.  Yes, a few people like to chit chat up there. Now there is more room for people to spread out.

The second component is that we graded a cat track from the top of Pali to the top of The Nose. In the past we have always made this snow road out of, well, snow. As a result, some years it took weeks or months to get established. Now with just a little bit of snow, skiers and riders will have very easy access to The Nose, West Wall and Davis trail in The Beavers.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Another PHQ Update

The PHQ remodel is progressing nicely. The framing is mostly done. The electricians are working away. Before long we will see shingles and siding.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

For You Sweater Aficionados......

..........We have a new color for this coming season.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Great Evening, Great Deck

Today was certainly a beautiful afternoon/evening to be married on the Black Mountain Lodge deck.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Explosive Delivery System

For the Steep Gullies we are installing a fairly complex Explosive Delivery System that involves several cable lines that are commonly called Explosive Trams. Back in August 2014, I wrote a blog about our system on the North end of the East Wall.

There is a 20' tall tower at the top and bottom of each line. Kind of like a clothes line, the system allows our avalanche team to lower explosives to a desired location before detonation. 

Advantages of the system include being able to send larger shots and/or shots to places much further away than our workers can throw. By doing so, we reduce the exposure of employees to unmitigated terrain. The explosive work can more effective and more efficient in its use of time and resources. Lastly, this system in The Steep Gullies will reduce the time it takes to prepare the slopes for opening.

Today, with the helicopter, the Snow Safety Team placed all of their towers. They will spend the next several weeks setting the cables and fine tuning the system.