Thursday, January 31, 2019

Pioneer Willy

Pioneer Willy is an outstanding gladed ski trail out in the Western Territory of The Beavers. To get there, ski a little more than 1/2 way down Loafer and take a left at the Pioneer Willy sign. You will find a beautiful, modestly sloped, black tree skiing run that is really fun.

The trail is named after Willy Schaeffler, a historical figure not just at A-Basin, but throughout the entire ski world. Born in Bavaria, Willy qualified for the 1936 Olympics, but did not compete due to injuries. After brutal service in World War II, he moved to the United States. There he met A-Basin President Larry Jump. With Larry's help, he formed the Willy Schaeffler Ski School at Arapahoe Basin. He went on to coach the Denver University Pioneers Ski Team winning 13 National Championships. He was the Director of Ski Events at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley and was later named the Head Coach of the US Ski Team. He is a member of Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, Colorado Ski Hall of Fame and US Ski Hall of Fame.

Willy's stamp on The Basin is something we are very proud of.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Skiing Taos

Kay and I slipped away for a little trip down to one of our favorite ski resorts, Taos Ski Valley. Staying with some old friends down near town, we enjoyed some beautiful southwestern hospitality and skiing. The snow was great. We did 9 ridge hikes and old favorites, Tresckow, Stauffenberg and High Somewhere, did not disappoint. No trip to Taos is complete without a bratwurst and a full stein at The Bavarian. Despite having a tough month, the skiing and the employees were fantastic. Your A-Basin season pass is good for 3 days of lift tickets. This place is one of the classics. Don't miss it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

From Y Chutes

We had some fine skiing on the East Wall today. It was open below the traverse and the Tree Chutes Staircase was open. The North Pole and Willy's areas got dinged by the wind, but the other skiing was outstanding. I love the views from all of the hiking zones on The Wall. The view from the Y Chutes (pictured here) is especially cool.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Bald Spot Boot Pack

The Bald Spot is a great, little, gnarly ski below and west of the bottom of the Beavers Lift. It is kind of comparable in size and steepness to the Lower Alleys. The deeper the snow, the better the skiing is over there. Now that our base is over 50 inches deep, the skiing is getting really good. Friday, it was spectacular.

Once you ski the Bald Spot, there is an easy, quick little boot pack back to the bottom of The Beavers Lift. It is taking most people 5-10 minutes. So, if you like skiing the Lower Alleys and you don't mind a little walk, be sure and give the Bald Spot a spin.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Professor Avalanche

CDOT brought out the big howitzer and did a Professor Shoot Friday morning. Some of you might have been either caught in the road closure or sequestered in the A-Frame while this was going on. Those shoots take a while. There is a lot of hurry up and wait, but this one was quite effective. The objective is to make the path to slide when no is on it or under it. Another objective is have lots of little slides instead of one monstrous one. Compared to the size of the slide path, this wasn't a particularly big avalanche. That said, if you were standing right next to it, it would look quite large.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Snow 8 of the Last 9 Days

Over the last 9 days we have reported 27 inches of snow. We have actually had  reportable snow 8 of the last 9 mornings.We had one big day, last Saturday reporting 10 inches, but most of the days have been in the 1-4 inch range. We started today socked in by the clouds, but that has burned off. This afternoon is your classic, bluebird, perfect, gorgeous, powdery, A-Basin kind of day.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Snowy, Blustery Day

What a great day for storm skiing. I was out on the hill late morning skiing all over. It was snowing and blowing and the skiing was fantastic. Most of the time I couldn't see the mountains, but just as I pulled into the bottom of Zuma lift, the clouds broke showing off Independence Mountain. Good, good skiing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Another Great Wall Session

The Ski Patrol had a very busy morning working on the Upper East Wall. There were four teams working above the traverse doing avalanche and sign work getting things ready. The Wall opened about noon with several very fun surprises. North Pole opened and 2nd Notch was added to the mix. The Willy's Wide Staircase was opened up to Borgy Rock. Just for extra fun, The Tree Chutes Staircase was opened including service to The Y Chutes. With light snow falling, we are having a wonderful afternoon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

North Pole and East Wall Open

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Check out the sweet videos on our Instagram page.

Parking - Peak Days

We had quite the holiday weekend up here. Lots of new snow and phenomenal conditions. I visited with hundreds of people that were loving life. We did have some parking challenges. There are days, like Saturday and Sunday, when more people show up to ski than we have places to park all of their cars. The mountain is so big now that we have plenty of room to ski, we just don't have enough parking spaces on these peak days. Many people chose to park along the highway. Some chose to actually park on the highway and interfere with traffic. Many of those vehicles were towed.

Here are some tips to help you avoid frustration on peak days.

1. Ride The Summit Stage.
2. Carpool.
3. Get here early or get here late. By mid-morning, the parking is full. By early afternoon, plenty of people have left and spaces open up.
4. Don't park in "No Parking" zones along the highway. You will get towed.
5. Don't park on or over the white line of the highway. You will get towed.
6. If you insist on arriving in a vehicle between mid-morning and early afternoon, you will be eternally frustrated.
7. Consider buying the Arapahoe Basin Midweek Pass ($299 right now). It is the ski deal of the century.

Skiing at The Basin has never been better. A little bit of planning can help you avoid frustration on peak days.

Check out this article in the Summit Daily

Monday, January 21, 2019

Blood Wolf Moon

This composite photo by Tripp Fay makes the all-time favorites list.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Good Skiing All Over

Great skiing all over. Today the Steep Gullies and Montezuma Bowl were exceptionally good. Davis has really come together nicely. It looks like we have decent snow forecast for Monday night and unsettled weather most of the week.

The snow in The Bald Spot is sweet and almost no one is skiing there.

Saturday, January 19, 2019


At 16 Inches total, this was a very nice storm for The Basin. I can tell you it was deep everywhere I went especially in Dreamcatcher. Even this afternoon, parts of The Beavers were lightly skied. With another decent storm forecast for Monday, conditions are shaping up nicely. I have to think the East Wall is coming together.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Definitely More Than 3 Inches

A Very Fat 3 Inches

While we only reported 3 inches of new snow at 5 AM, it has been snowing heavily since then. By the time the lifts open our guests (and maybe a few employees) will be skiing more than double that 3". This is a good one. We are having a  busy pre-opening morning. The Base Area crew is clearing snow on the walkways. The Plow Drivers are getting the parking lots ready (although the lots are filling right back in with snow). The Ski Patrol is out there doing their ski checks and routes. The Lift Crew is trying to un-bury their stations. The Cat Drivers have been working all night, but this won't be a corduroy day. You don't want to miss today.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Il Rifugio

"Il Rifugio" - It is almost ready. Our new restaurant on the Summit will open Saturday. If you find this platter appealing, you have to stop in for a visit. Top it off with a fine glass wine and a piece of Tiramasu and a latte for dessert. Oh my goodness. This will be a cozier and smaller dining venue. Certainly, not your typical ski area cafeteria.

Chef Rybak and his team have been putting the finishing touches on the facility. Using ski patrollers and other employees as guinea pigs, they have been sampling and practicing the delivery of these delicious foods the last few days. This might not be for everyone, but for those of us that love this kind of stuff, we are going to really love this place.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Beavers Logo

You gotta' love that Beavers Logo. 

We had a beautiful day at The Basin. It snowed lightly to moderately just about all day. I did a ski tour covering most quadrants on the hill. With the new snow, the skiing was fun everywhere I went. There is more snow coming and we have lots of good fun ahead.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Beautiful Ski Day

What a fantastic ski day. We enjoyed a Sunday skiing the North Side, skiing the Steep Gullies and soaking in that brilliant Colorado blue sky. We found great conditions on The Spine, Main Street, Standard, Slalom Slope and the 4th Steep Gully. A couple of hikes is always good for you. The day had those perfect Colorado, crisp temperatures, not terribly cold, but definitely not warm. Just perfect for skiing. We topped it off with an early dinner in Marnie's. My kind of Sunday.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Treeline Terrain Park

The Treeline Terrain Park opened for the season this afternoon. The week before last, the Snowmakers put down a bunch of snow there. For the last several days, the Park Crew has been dozing, shaping, carving, setting, testing and all kinds of other things to get the Park ready. The place looked great today.

Friday, January 11, 2019

7+ Inches

We reported 2 inches of new this morning and it snowed just about all day. The Ski Patrol measured 5 more inches at sweep time. And it is sill snowing. Tomorrow will be exceptional and there might even be a Terrain Park surprise.

Kay and I just finished a skin to the Summit and we are heading over to the 6th Alley for a Friday night dinner.


We had 2 inches at report time. We have probably had 2 inches since then. It is stilling snowing nicely. Yes, it will be a good day.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Sky is Getting Darker

I had a fun little wandering ski tour around mid-day. Spent some time on The Spine, in the Beavers and skiing Northern Spy / Columbine in Montezuma Bowl. As the day progressed, the clouds rolled in and the sky got darker and darker. Looking at the forecast, Friday might be a really good day to go skiing at The Basin.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

East Wall

The Ski Patrol has continued to work on the East Wall. There have been a couple of limited openings focused on skiing some of the powder lines in the gullies. The forecast for snow Thursday night and Friday is starting to look a little better. The Wall is the last big chunk of terrain yet to be opened regularly. Let's hope the next 2-3 storms get it open.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


Yesterday was a gnarly, tough, windy A-Basin kind of day. We had some lift wind closures. It snowed fairly consistently and heavily for a while. The wind was from the W-SW and was ideal for much of the ski area. I skied for a few hours finding great snow near the woods. Really, really fun if you like to hang out in that kind of weather.

Today was the polar opposite. With bluebird skies, calm winds and a new snow report of 3 inches, the day was a Colorado "Stunner." It was absolutely perfect and so much fun to be out on the hill.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A Little Snow and a Little Wind

Kay and I spent a few hours skiing the North Side today. The storm spit out snow off and on throughout the day. Our webcam shows that maybe an inch fell. The beauty of the day was the wind. It was blowing with the right speed and from the right direction to buff out much of the North Side. The snow had that buttery, velvet texture. We took run after run loving the conditions. It was another perfect Sunday afternoon.

Friday, January 4, 2019

.......And The 4th.

The 4th Steep Gully was a treat today. Similar to the 2nd, you have to gently work your way in through some tricky conditions. Once in, Steep and Beautiful. Extreme Terrain all the way.

You can ski all 8 of the Steep Gullies without encountering a mandatory air. If you veer onto the flanks, micro side gullies or cliffs, there is plenty of air to be found. Each proper Steep Gully has plenty of rocks and is plenty steep, but there isn't mandatory air. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

AHHHH.......Steep Gullies

The Steep Gullies opened Wednesday. I had the pleasure of skiing The 2nd SG. The upper quarter was extremely difficult. I had to tip toe through some very challenging and steep snow and rocks. The lower three quarters were absolutely beautiful, steep skiing. To finish it off I had a quiet skin back to the bottom of Pali.

The Steep Gullies are the most difficult terrain at The Basin. Extreme Terrain is defined by the Colorado Ski Safety Act as:

"Extreme Terrain" means any place within the ski area boundary that contains cliffs with a minimum twenty-foot rise over a fifteen-foot run, and slopes with a minimum fifty-degree average pitch over a one-hundred-foot run.

The Steep Gullies definitely meet this definition. Extreme Terrain is not about moguls or trees or rocks. It is about steepness and cliffs.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Last Hoorah - Snowmaking

Today the snowmakers will be shutting down their system for the season. It has been a good one. December 31 is the last day we are allowed to divert water. The diversion point to the reservoir has been plugged and we are just finishing off the last little bit water remaining in our reservoir.

Despite a dubious start, we ended up with a great snowmaking season. With last summer being so dry, we were very concerned with the amount of water that we would have in the North Fork of the Snake. That awesome November snowfall was a tremendous help, raising stream flows and putting snow on the ground. On top of that, the snowmakers did great work and really spread the man made snow wisely. They made "just enough" snow in the places we needed snow.

The snowmakers will spend the next few days putting all their gear away and will be ready to do it all again next September.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year

A lively crowd welcomed in the New Year at Black Mountain Lodge. To keep most of us from staying up too late, we actually celebrated Manhattan's New Year, 10 PM our time. Chef Vlass served a brilliant dinner with lobster, filet mignon and a Mexican chocolate mousse. A great band rocked the house and the dance floor was full. Fun was had by all. Best part - I was in bed by 11:00.