Arapahoe Basin blasts into winter |

Arapahoe Basin blasts into winter

Janice Kurbjun
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark FoxSkiers and riders were all smiles as they hopped on the new Black Mountain Express Lift at Arapahoe Basin Monday morning. A-Basin opened for the season Monday with several inches of fresh powder.

ARAPAHOE BASIN – Maria Fox and her mother Michele Fratarcangeli had been looking forward to Arapahoe Basin’s opening day for more than a year.

They couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces as they buckled their boots at the top of Black Mountain Express – the new, high-speed detachable quad that replaces the old Exhibition lift this season – and got ready to tear down High Noon.

While most skiers and riders stowed their planks at the end of April, May or June this year, these two hadn’t skied more than two days last season.

That wasn’t for want of hitting the slopes, though.

Maria’s pregnancy kept her off the slopes entirely (the baby girl was at home with grandma on Monday), and Michele saw two days of slope time, with one of those on her annual birthday bash in April. A breast cancer diagnosis slightly more than a year ago had her otherwise occupied.

“I’m starting my new life here today,” she said, adding that she’s currently cancer free. “I’m going to stay that way for the duration.”

The season pass holders and mug club members said their eagerness for A-Basin to open has been nearly uncontrollable.

“I’ve been obsessed with (opening day),” Maria said. “I’ve been reading Al’s blog and checking the website like every ten minutes.”

When Arapahoe Basin Chief Operating Office Alan Henceroth reported in his blog that the ski area was 70 to 80 percent ready to open, “I almost peed my pants,” Maria said with a chuckle. “It’s been too long.”

Charlie Fox said Monday’s conditions were the best opening day conditions he’s seen in 10 years.

The continuous snowfall made the traditional “ribbon of death” – the white slope edged in brown grass awaiting solid snowfall – a thing of yesteryear.

On top of yesterday’s 7 inches of snow, A-Basin officials reported 6 inches overnight. Ski patrol director Tony Cammarata said another 5 fell after 5 a.m. The snow continued to fall throughout the day, with anywhere from a foot to 22 inches of snow predicted as the storm moves through Monday and Tuesday.

“It went from fall to winter in a snap of a finger,” Cammarata said, adding that the conditions are the softest he’s seen since he started on patrol in 1998, and maybe longer. Arapahoe Basin snowmakers did the crux of the early work and Mother Nature added “a little frosting to the cake,” he added.

Between the conditions and it being opening day, getting a few runs in at the Basin wasn’t something Chris Harris could miss.

After checking webcams at 6:15 a.m. and checking road conditions with the Colorado Department of Transportation, he hit the road and arrived two hours later.

“I’m supposed to be in finance class right now,” the University of Colorado-Denver student said.

The conditions were a dream come true – literally – for Morgan Bast, who works for Vail Resort’s SnowBuzz at

“I had a dream this weekend about skiing powder on the first day, so I guess I was close to being right,” she said.

Cammarata said excitement was high Monday, among staff and in the lift line.

“That’s what’s great about opening day,” he said. “Everybody comes back. We’re working up here all summer, and it’s a small little crew. All of our guests and all of our employees that come back this time of year just add to the energy of the place. That’s exciting.”

SDN reporter Janice Kurbjun can be contacted at (970) 668-4630 or at

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