By David Schissler – After a four-year approval process, the White River National Forest Service has given its blessing to Arapahoe Basin’s “Beavers and Steep Gullies” expansion. The area will add a new fixed grip quad chair and 338 acres of intermediate and expert bowl skiing including cliffs and chutes. A-Basin currently has 958 skiable acres to offer visitors. When the new terrain is added the resort will climb to 1,296 acres, taking it from approximately 92nd to 72nd in North America in skiable acreage. That’s a pretty big jump when you consider A-Basin will leapfrog household names such as Solitude, Brighton, Aspen Highlands, Sugarloaf and Crested Butte. This is the largest expansion at A-Basin since 2007 when they added 400 acres and a quad lift in the Montezuma Bowl on the area’s backside. This little “locals” area is about to get a lot more of attention.
I was one of those locals for many years. A-Basin is always one of the first and last places to ski each season. Their perch atop the Continental Divide at 13,050 assures a long season. I’ve skied there in mid-October and on the 4th of July. The problem A-Basin has is it’s surrounded by giant neighbors Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper, Vail, Winter Park and even Loveland. Once snow is plentiful at these resorts front range riders and tourists alike tend to migrate to them and leave A-Basin behind until many of those places have closed in mid-April. Then it becomes “Beachin’ at the Basin” season. I think this expansion will change that dynamic. With this much acreage A-Basin will now draw more riders than ever but its size should assure that customers continue to enjoy the quality of the A-Basin experience.
This latest expansion also includes some upgrades. A new surface lift will be added in the Montezuma Bowl, the mountain is replacing the Molly Hogan and Pallavicini chairlifts, removing the Norway lift and building ziplines for an aerial adventure tour and challenge course. According to White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams “The decision will enhance both the winter and summer recreation opportunities at A-Basin. Lift replacements and grading will improve the quality of experience for skiers and snowboarders. Additionally, the summer aerial activity will reach a wide audience and provide experiences for an increasingly diverse recreating public.”
The Beaver’s and Steep Gullies Expansion Facts
Acreage: 468 total acres
339 lift-served acres in The Beavers
129 hike-back acres in The Steep Gullies
Chairlift stats: The Beavers chair will be a fixed-grip quad
Terrain in The Beaver: You’ll find rolling and varied terrain with intermediate groomed runs to most difficult tree skiing. The top is open bowl skiing with glades on the west side and the lower 2/3 of the terrain.
Terrain in The Steep Gullies: A-Basin has always had some of the most challenging riding on its East Wall and off of the Pallavicini lift. This is some of the steepest skiing in North America. The Steep Gullies takes it to another level with the most challenging skiing at the area. These are “extreme”, steep, narrow chutes that vary in pitch and width. All terrain in The Steep Gullies will be designated as “hike back,” meaning that guests will have to hoof it in their preferred mode back to the bottom of the Pallavicini lift.
Work on the project begins this summer with trail development. It will culminate in the 2018-19 season with the opening of the Beavers chair. Our thanks to Leigh Hierholzer, Director of Marketing and Kelly Hiller, VP Operations, for their hospitality and assistance in the production of our coverage.