Arapahoe Basin nears the finish line in strong shape
summit daily news
Vail, CO Colorado
ARAPAHOE BASIN – Temperatures reached well into the 60s in Summit County Saturday. Trees were budding, cyclists were out in force, and many students had already begun their summer breaks. But for hundreds of skiers and riders at Arapahoe Basin, it was still ski season.
A-Basin, the only remaining open ski area in Colorado, has experienced something of a late-season turnaround. El Nino handed Summit County less snow than hoped for during the winter, but precipitation made a comeback this spring, dumping 54 inches of new snow on A-Basin in April alone. Month-to-date snowfall in May stands at 27 inches.
“It’s incredible out there today,” said operations director Tim Finnigan. “The mountain is in really good shape. There’s plenty of snow to keep us cruising through to June 6.”
One-third of the ski area’s acreage remains open after recent closures of Montezuma Bowl and Pallavicini terrain. Remaining runs are likely to stay in good shape, owing to a solid mid-mountain base depth of 42 inches, combined with groomers’ continual efforts to push snow from closed terrain onto open terrain.
Managing a ski area at this time of year can be challenging, since conditions tend to change significantly over the course of a single day. With an overnight freeze, snow can change from a firm, groomed surface in the morning to corn in mid-day to spring slush in the afternoon. That pattern calls for particular diligence on the part of the terrain park crew, which must ensure that riders can get enough speed to clear jumps.
Ski area staff aren’t the only ones working hard at the Basin this time of year. Guests, too, put in plenty of elbow grease assembling costumes, blowing up kiddie pools, preparing barbecue fare and gathering decorations for the perfect Beach-side luau. On Saturday, a group from Boulder hauled up its own fully functioning hot tub.
The group said the project – complete with a filter and heater – took about four months of brainstorming, three weeks of procrastinating and one week of tinkering with plumbing and electrical equipment. The hot-tubbers, just downstream of dozens of other revelers and their flotsam, pumped the tub full from a rushing stream of snowmelt.
A-Basin will remain open through the first weekend in June.