A-Basin: Ski season should end June 8 | VailDaily.com

A-Basin: Ski season should end June 8

Bob Berwyn
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” With rivulets of water running between his boots in the roadside parking lot at Arapahoe Basin, Mike Lehrman describes his run down through some Loveland Pass backcountry powder as epic.

“It was knee-deep and face shots. Dude, it’s been just like that all season,” Lehrman crows, shaking some powder off his hat and swigging Gatorade before heading back to the lifts at Arapahoe Basin.

Lehrman, who just moved to Boulder from Boston, said, “I’d ski every day, all summer if I could. I wish A-Basin would stay open later,” he said, having heard tales of celebrating the Fourth of July on the slopes at Summit County’s oldest ski area.

As the last resort standing, A-Basin is buzzing these days. The East Wall filled in nicely, the hike-to terrain is open and even the boniest chutes off the high ridge have been pummeled and packed by skiers and riders. Now it’s just a question of how long it will last.

“It would be cool if they stayed open as late as they can. I’d come up every weekend until they closed,” said Vujko Bultan, on his way to snare a smooth bump line on Exo.

This winter’s big snows were followed by complaints from skiers upset about how many resorts closed early. Eight state resorts reported record snowfall and most are closing with their deepest bases of the season.

Diehards won’t be able to feed their jones for July turns at A-Basin this year, or anytime soon. A-Basin’s is aiming to close June 8, with everything dependent on snow and weather, said spokeswoman Leigh Hierholzer.

One of those weather factors could be a thick layer of mustard- and rust-colored dust grains deposited by fierce winds last week. Some science suggests that the dark-colored snow melts more quickly, shortening the snowpack season by 20 days or more in the Rockies.

Scientists who track the dust and measure the effects say the storms have become more common with widespread agricultural development.

The start of snowmaking at A-Basin also affected seasonal operations.

“Things have changed since snowmaking started,” Hierholzer said.

The trend has been toward opening earlier, extending the season at the beginning, she said.

Hierholzer said the last few times A-Basin stayed open into July were in 2003 (July 2), 1997 (July 6), 1996 (July 1) and 1995 (Aug. 10).

It might not be in the cards anytime soon, but staying open into early summer is still an option in the future, said director of mountain operations Tim Finnigan.

“Maybe once in a blue moon,” Finnigan said.

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