Friday, January 31, 2020

Mountain Goat Traverse

The Mountain Goat Traverse is on the far East side of Montezuma Bowl. It takes skiers and riders out to some fine skiing in the 14ers, Bierstadt, Grays and Torreys. Not many people go out this way. The views looking back at West Zuma and the lift line area are pretty darn cool. Today, skiing un-tracked powder in Bierstadt at 2:30 was kind of fun.

It looks like we are store for a couple of sunny, beautiful days. Skiers and riders will enjoy a weekend  of stellar skiing and then the storm train fires up again Monday and Tuesday. Oh yeah.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

East Wall

The East Wall is an iconic A-Basin Place. From skiing wide open powder slopes to hiking steep, high elevation, narrow chutes, The Wall offers amazing experiences. I just spent some time looking at our East Wall data for the last 39 years. During that period, the EW opening day is highly variable. There was a December opening back in 1989. Generally, it opens sometime in January, February or March. There were two drought seasons, 2001-02 and 2011-12, that it did not open.

So far this season, the avalanche crew has spent a great deal of time working North Pole, Willie's Wide, The Tree Chutes and lots of points in between. There is a fair bit of snow on the ground. That ground has some very large rocks. Today we have a 45" mid mountain base. Typically, the East Wall opens when the base is somewhere north of 50". When will it open? One storm, two storms, three storms? It is hard to say just when, but we are well on our way to getting this last big chunk of terrain open.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Yesterday Was Stunning

Yesterday morning was a little snowy and quite cold. By mid-morning the clouds had mostly cleared off and temperatures warmed up a bit. During a mid-day 5-lift ski tour I found absolutely beautiful skiing on all sides of the mountain. It was stunning. Looks like we are in store for a few snow showers today and tomorrow and then we get back into high pressure and clear days. I look forward to a little snow and then bluebird conditions. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Beer Makers Dinner This Friday

There are still a few spots available for Friday's Beer Makers Dinner. These are a hoot. Chef Rybak will be working with the folks from New Belgium pairing various beers with his five course dinner. If oysters on the half shell, tuna tataki, grilled lamb loin, farro cassoulet with duck confit and hazelnut beignets sounds appealing to you, this could be your night. That paired with  five of New Belgium's finest brews, makes for a perfect evening. You might even want to sneak in a little skin before dinner to ease the gluttony guilt. Kay and I will be there.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Steep Gullies Kind of Day

Today I enjoyed a wonderful family and friends ski day up at The Basin. We enjoyed some fine skiing on the North Side. The Spine and Pali Face are in excellent shape. The Steep Gullies were the gems of the day. We took three laps out there. As often is the case, the entries were a little rough, but once in the guts of the chutes, the skiing was superb. The hike back is good exercise, but the real magic was skiing the main bodies of those trails. Awesome.

The new Rendezvous Point sign is spelled correctly this season.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

From Above

Periodically, people send me photos of The Basin taken from aircraft. Harkin Banks sent me this beauty taken a couple weeks ago while heading west on a Southwest flight. I love it.

Friday, January 24, 2020

So Much Good Skiing Today

We had a robust 6 inches of new snow. There was so much good skiing today, I don't even know where to begin. Pali - awesome. West Zuma - awesome. Steep Gullies - awesome. It was kinda', mostly sunny. The snow was as light and fluffy as can be. Skiers and riders were loving it. We had a perfect Montezuma Bowl Day, soaking up the South Side views. Pali was just being Pali - always extraordinary. The Steep Gullies were a treat, a little rough and tricky getting in, but sweet, sweet skiing down the gut. This was a classic "A-Basin Day."

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Hardly Tracked - Steep Gullies

I just had some phenomenal end of the day skiing out in the Beavers. With several more inches today, it hasn't really stopped snowing since last night.  Three o'clock runs in Thick and Thin and Glockenspiel Glades showed hardly any tracks. Last night I said Thursday morning would be awesome skiing. I was right. Friday morning will be even better.

It looks like we will see a Steep Gullies opening sometime tomorrow afternoon. Check out this link,

Stupidly Good

That is how one person described today's conditions to me.  It is stupidly good. Snow has been falling non stop all morning.  While we had a fat 2 inches at report time, it has been dumping since then. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Really Good Skiing, Getting Better

There was some fine skiing on the hill today, especially on Slalom Slope. Parts of that trail are looking pretty smooth. The forecast the next couple of days is looking a bit unsettled. With the kind winds and intermittent snow, we already have a soft and carve-able skiing surface. This morning's couple inches of new snow was a treat. When I left The Basin this evening, it was dumping. I think we are in for a very, very good Thursday.

Monday, January 20, 2020


One of my favorite runs at The Basin, Jump, is the steepest trail in Montezuma Bow. There is a nice cornice at the top and a steep, steady pitch down its gut. Its right flank is even steeper and has some rock outcrops to dance around. You might think the name, Jump, is related to launching off the cornice. Actually, the trail is named after Larry Jump, 10th Mountain Division veteran and founding member and first President of Arapahoe Basin. The north wall of the 6th Alley Bar is dedicated to Larry and his wife, Marnie. Another interesting note, Marnie's full name is Marjorie. The prominent basin outside the ski area and just northeast of The East Wall is Marjorie Bowl.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Surface Hoar

Check out these surface hoar crystals I found this morning outside of the ski area. These crystals are particularly well developed and look almost like feathers. Some say this is a fancy name for frost. Surface hoar commonly forms on clear, calm, cold nights. If the crystals remain intact and are followed by new snow, they can form a weak layer in the snowpack.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

West Zuma

West Zuma is open. The skiing in Schauffler was superb. This is the time of year when The Basin gets big. We still have the Steep Gullies (not too far away) and the East Wall to open. There is such a broad range of skiing with cruisers on the Front Side and East Zuma to the glades in The Beavers and to the steeps of the North Side and West Zuma. The place is just too much fun...... and we still have a couple of my favorites, hiking the East Wall and the Steep Gullies, to go.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Snowing and Skiing Digger

What a great afternoon. The skiing got better by the hour. The big, big wind that was forecast for the afternoon did not really happen. While breezy, it just kept snowing. I had a phenomenal run skiing Digger in The Beavers. The tree spacing and the snow surface were perfect. I also found great snow in Black Bear and Lenawee Parks. And it is still snowing. During a 4:45 PM walk through in the 6th Alley, I found a lot of smiling faces.

Saturday looks good. We should have gusty west winds which are good for The Basin. Unfortunately for the Ikon Base pass holders, their passes are blacked out Saturday and Sunday. It is a bummer they won't be here. This will be a relatively quiet holiday weekend with some beautiful skiing.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

From The Bottom Up - Steep Gullies

The Steep Gullies are starting to fill in. Unlike many places, their best skiing starts at the bottom. During all the avalanche work, snows sloughs off the upper entries and fills in down low. Storm after storm, the snow continues to get deeper and deeper filling the bottom up first. At times, the entries may be scratchy, but once in the chute, the snow is deep and the skiing is great. Today the entries are not quite ready, but you can tell, the skiing is pretty darn good once in the chute.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Bald Spot

The Bald Spot is open. This area is a really cool little treat. It is about the size of the Lower Alleys and just about as steep. The skiing is excellent. It is a great diversion. Skiers are usually alone when there. It doesn't get skied very much and it requires a 10 minute steep-ish hike back to the bottom of The Beavers Lift. It is a special place to do something different.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Those Darn Skinners

Always out there having fun !!!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Treeline and High Divide Terrain Parks

One of the last acts of the Snowmakers was to make snow for the High Divide and Treeline Terrain Parks. The Cat Drivers and Park Crew put a lot of sweat equity shaping the snow. Riders will find some cool features including a down rail, whale tail step down, barrel bonk, tube spine, hourglass, quarter pipe / pole kick and down flat down rail. Sounds cool to me.

West Zuma Opens

The Ski Patrol did a limited opening in West Zuma today. There were a few rocks out there, but the skiing and snow were excellent. In the weeks prior to today's opening, the Patrollers had done extensive work with explosives and skiing and packing the snow. The compaction from skiers today really helps improve the snow quality. Looking forward several days, there is snow in the forecast almost every day. There are not big snow numbers in the forecast, but the continued new snow mixed up with limited openings and (hopefully) some kind winds will make for good, solid skiing. It is good to see the snow developing this way.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Good Sticker

Sometimes a good sticker says it all.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Shaped Up Nicely

With continued work across the mountain, the skiing has shaped up nicely. Today should be a beauty. The recent opening of the MGD zone has been a treat. With unsettled weather in the forecast for most of the next week, I see additional improvement and fun in the skiing. We have more than 1100 acres of skiing open now. Three notable pods remain, Far West Zuma, Steep Gullies and The East Wall. We will keep plugging at those areas.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Spine Was So Smooth

Yesterday I mentioned that we had experienced some kind winds.  A few hours of skiing today confirmed the winds were very kind especially on The Spine, Slalom Slope and Lenawee Parks. There just aren't that many places that get the high alpine, smooth, flat, buffed steep pitches like A-Basin. I enjoy skiing that condition as much as I enjoy skiing powder.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Steep Gullies and Widowmaker

The last couple of days we have had some pretty big winds. They have been very kind winds (minus a couple wind related lift closures) and have really filled in certain parts of the mountain creating some of that velvety, special skiing. The skiing today.....beautiful.

On a different note, here is a picture of a view I really enjoy. Skiing down the left side of Loafer, approaching the bottom of Beavers Lift, there is an excellent view of The Steep Gullies on the right and the Widowmaker (outside the ski area boundary) on the left.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Snowmaking Done For Season

Our snowmaking department has shut down their operations for the season. From pulling off a fantastic October 11 opening (In 2018 we were closed for skiing for 99 days) to steady and consistent work in November and December, the crew has had an excellent year. Their quality work sets the physical and metaphorical foundation of our snowpack and our trail system for the entire season. Looking at the snowmaking season quantitatively, this one was about average almost hitting our mean and median for acre feet of water converted to snow.

With our permitting, we are only allowed to divert from the North Fork of the Snake River to our reservoir through December 31. We can continue to make snow with whatever is left in the reservoir. New Year's Day the reservoir was virtually empty. The team shut the system down and won't be making snow again until October (maybe September). 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy Snowy New Year

We enjoyed a very snowy New Year's Day at Arapahoe Basin. I found particularly good skiing out in the woods west of Loafer. We are expecting a few more inches tonight. Thursday should be a very nice powder day.

Arapahoe Basin had quite a few things going on in 2019. It was a great year.  I think 2020 will be even better. Happy New Year.