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A-Basin: A family ode to opening day

The 2014-2015 Colorado ski season starts Friday, Oct. 17 at Arapahoe Basin

Dylan Berwyn charges down West Montezuma Bowl, January 2012.

Dylan Berwyn charges down West Montezuma Bowl, January 2012. bberwyn photo

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Snaky, hissing lines under Pali Chair.

By Bob Berwyn

My history with A-Basin goes way back to the early 1980s.  I remember a memorable July 4 snow storm during that era, and lots of other assorted mayhem.

OK, mayhem may be stretching it a bit, but there was the time when I was hurrying to get to the slopes and accidentally slammed my friend’s thumb in the sliding side-panel door of that old lime-green ’75 Ford Econoline.

The mishap required a quick trip down to the Snake River emergency clinic at Keystone, but we were back on the mountain by lunchtime. And despite a new hand and forearm splint, to which we promptly taped a ski pole, at the end of the day, my friend led me on my first ride through Montezuma Bowl.

Twenty years later, I was teaching my toddler to ski at A-Basin. Sure, we’d go to Keystone with Opa now and then, or trek over to Breck on a fine spring day, but we lived in Summit Cove at the time and A-Basin was always our home mountain — the “Hausberg,” as the alpine villagers of Europe call it.

It’s where you take turns sharing childcare duties with your friends, watching their kids they make a few laps, and vice-versa. The place where several generations of family have skied. Maybe you’ve even scattered the ashes of a loved one from the summit. It’s where you feel the global mountain vibe that ties all high country dwellers together regardless of national borders.

It’s where you ski with Opa and Omi.

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A local middle-schooler airs it out in the Fourth Alley.

Over the years, you get to know every crinkle of terrain. Just by watching the direction of the snow plume blowing off Pali or PHQ, you know exactly where the best blown-in powder will be, and you recognize individual trees and their sprawling branches as snow-depth indicators.

Exploring leisurely through the steep, shady spruce glades or charging down an avalanche gully on the East Wall, you build an intimate relationship with nature, which breeds respect and leads, hopefully, to a stewardship ethic.

Another decade down the road (I’m almost afraid to count up the total number of years) and my teenager mostly skis with his peers. But tomorrow, on opening day at A-Basin, we’ll head up together to celebrate the start of another ski season. It couldn’t happen in a better place!

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Colorado ski season begins!

Arapahoe Basin opening Oct. 13

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Arapahoe Basin Ski Area from an overlook on U.S. Highway 6.

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After a few cold nights for snowmaking, Arapahoe Ski Area will open for the season on Sunday, Oct. 13.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The wait is over.

Arapahoe Basin will officially open for the 2013-2014 season this Sunday, Oct. 13 with skiing off the Black Mountain Express chair, serving the High Noon trail. The first chair will start up the mountain at 8:30 a.m.

The opening comes four days earlier than last year, after a series of winter-like storms rolled through the Colorado mountains in late September and early October.

“This is a very exciting time for us, and all of Colorado,” Arapahoe Basin Vice President and COO Alan Henceroth said in a statement. “We’ve had tremendous early season snowmaking and natural snow, and we can’t wait to kick off the 2013-14 ski and ride season.”

The ski area will offer rental services, and will open restaurant facilities at the base area A-frame and at Black Mountain Lodge. While wrapping up a $1 million renovation of the 6th Alley Bar & Grill, a temporary bar will be set up in the A-frame.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at  ArapahoeBasin.com and urrent lift ticket window pricing will run through December 20, 2013, with adult (ages 19-59) full-day tickets priced at $67, youth (ages 15-18) window tickets priced at $55 and child (ages 6-14) window tickets priced at $32. Children under age 5 ski free every day all season.

Colorado ski season under way at Arapahoe Basin

Fresh snow and sunshine for opening day

Snow spray at A-Basin on opening day.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The start of the ski season, even if it’s only on one run with artificial snow, is a Big Deal in tourism-dependent Summit County and Colorado in general, where the ski industry contributes significantly to to the economy. Once again, Arapahoe Basin won the friendly race to open, firing up the Black Mountain Express with skiing on one trail on Oct. 17. Continue reading

Skiing: Arapahoe Basin opening Oct. 17

Skiing starts in Colorado

2011 opening day at A-Basin. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of watching ski videos on my iPhone with my head inside the freezer to simulate the ski experience, so I’m pretty psyched that A-Basin just announced that opening day is just around the corner — Wednesday, Oct. 17, to be exact.

A-Basin chief Alan Henceroth has been updating snowmaking progress on his blog, explaining that it’s not just about the quantity, but also about what you do with it. One of his latest posts shows the skillful snowcat work that goes into prepping High Noon for the start of skiing.

Check all the latest pass prices and deals on this A-Basin web page.

This year’s opening comes just a few days later than last year, when A-Basin fired up its lifts on Oct. 12 for what turned out to be one of the most challenging Colorado ski seasons in memory. A-Basin was hit especially hard by Colorado’s snow drought, with many storms skirting the east side of Summit County.

Ultimately, A-Basin closed much earlier than usual, missing a big chunk of the normally lucrative spring season. But that hasn’t stopped Summit County’s oldest ski area from forging ahead with new plans. At a recent open house, Henceroth presented an updated master plan that outlines improvements in the learning area, replacement of the venerable Pali Chair, and lift-served skiing in The Beavers.

Some scenes from recent opening and closing days at A-Basin

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Top-to-bottom at A-Basin, Oct. 13, 2011

Opening day at Breckenridge Ski Area

The ski season starts at Breckenridge with a beautiful, warm sunny day

Riders and skiers await the opening of Chair 5 at 9:00 am Friday morning.

By Jenney Coberly

BRECKENRIDGE, CO — Gorgeous weather greeted skiers on opening day at Breck on Friday, Nov, 11, but a winter storm is in the forecast for the weekend, with up to a foot of snow possible across some of the favored west and northwest-facing mountain slopes.

Here’s what it looked like, top-to-bottom:

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Colorado: Opening day at A-Basin

Summit County ski season under way

A lot of angels joined in the opening day celebrations at Arapahoe Basin.

The 18-inch base at A-Basin skied like a dream on opening day.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — There was a time when I wanted to start each season with the latest and greatest ski gear, but these days, I’m just happy that I can still bend down easily to lace up the liners of my 15-year-old Scarpas before joining my son in the lift line for opening day at Arapahoe Basin. Not even Halloween yet, and we’ve barely seen any frost on the pumpkin, but thanks to a spate of cold nights, perfect for snowmaking, and a little eight-inch assist from Mother Nature, it really is time to ski again.

I took Dylan out of school for the morning to let him experience the vibe. He’s grown up skiing at the Basin. This is his tenth season (he’s 13) but it’s the first time he’s been there to watch the lifts roll for the first time. He jumped right out of bed, too, without the usual school-morning routine, which involves moaning and pulling the covers over his head a few times.

So in the cool blue shadows of early morning, we line up in the maze, just a few spots back from the front of the line, eat donuts, listen to rock-and-roll and wait for the countdown. I also wanted him to be there for the memorial for A-Basin founders Marnie Jump and Max Dercum who both passed away this summer. Continue reading

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