After enduring a tough season so far for snowfall, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on the Continental Divide in Colorado is taking a big step forward Wednesday with the opening of Montezuma Bowl. Recent snow has permitted the opening of the mostly south-facing terrain.
About half of the terrain in the 400-acre bowl on the backside of the resort is expected to open. The bowl almost doubled the resort’s skiable terrain when it first opened in January 2008.
With an average annual snowfall of 350 inches, snow is generally not an issue at A-Basin. This season, however, has been rather lean until recently. On Tuesday, the resort’s officially reported a base of 38 inches.
A-Basin’s high altitude usually allows the resort to stay open into June, but a strong spring will be needed for enough snow to permit such a late closing date. A-Basin’s base at an elevation of 10,780 feet is higher than the summit of most resorts. The summit tops out at an elevation of 13,050 feet.
The high altitude also helps snowmaking efforts early in the season, so A-Basin usually battles nearby Loveland Ski Area in a race to be the first U.S. ski area to open each fall. For this season, Loveland opened on Oct. 7 and Arapahoe Basin opened two days later on Oct. 9.
Last season, A-Basin stayed open until June 7, but that date could be difficult to match this season. Looking on the bright side, an earlier closing would allow for a head start on a new high-speed quad lift that is planned to replace the fixed-grip Exhibition triple chairlift on the front side.
Currently, the closing date is tentatively scheduled for June 6 with lift construction starting in mid-June.
(Photo courtesy of Arapahoe Basin/Casey Day)