Arapahoe Basin’s Lenawee Mountain Lift should be open by end of week

Antonio Olivero
Summit Daily News
Though the Lenawee Mountain chairlift has not yet been opened this season at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, on Tuesday morning the lift was spinning (in view here from the Black Mountain Lodge) in preparation for a season-opening that A-Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth said should come by the end of the week.
Antonio Olivero, Summit Daily News

With all of the snowfall Summit County’s ski resorts have received in the last week, a common question at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area in recent days has been: When will the Lenawee Mountain Lift open?

Despite a 31-inch snow base thanks to all of the natural snowfall and cold, cloudy conditions that have made snowmaking ideal, A-Basin had just four runs open Monday morning. All were off of the ski area’s lower mountain, Black Mountain Express Chairlift.

That said, compared to last season’s dry, warm conditions at this time of year, A-Basin and its snowmakers are way ahead of schedule.

In a blog post on Monday, A-Basin chief operating officer, Alan Henceroth, said that by the end of the week the Lenawee Mountain Chairlift servicing the ski area’s front side, upper mountain terrain should open. With that, Henceroth said openings of the intermediate, above-tree-line Lenawee Face, Humbug and Dercum’s Gulch trails off of the Lenawee lift should also be open by the end of the week.

“There is nothing but good news on the A-Basin Front,” Henceroth wrote. “2+ feet of snow. Great snowmaking temperatures. Increased stream flow. We have a lot to work with right now. While we have plenty of employees, not every change will be seen instantly. There is a lot of snowcat work to do. The avalanche teams are all over the hill including working on (the terrain off of the) Pali (chairlift) and the The Steep Gullies. The snowmakers are extremely focused on Lenawee Face and Dercum’s Gulch.”

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Henceroth added that, no matter the early season weather conditions, preparing terrain up to the ski area’s summit is no small task.

“There is some tricky snowmaking and grooming required to make it happen,” Henceroth wrote. “This storm gave us a GI-NORMUS boost. Once we are on the Summit, lots of openings will quickly follow.”

On Tuesday, A-Basin’s snowmaking priority continued to be Lenawee Face and Dercum’s Gulch. Though the natural snowfall has been very helpful to the ski area’s efforts, there are still some steeper sections of terrain at the top of the upper mountain zone that prove difficult to prep, Henceroth said.

“These areas take some extra farming and extra snowmaking,” Henceroth wrote. “The snowmakers had a good session working these zones last night. The forecast continues to be favorable.

“Now our 31″ base will settle out a bit,” the COO continued, “but we may be able to open some additional terrain. The first areas to open without snowmaking are typically Humbug, Lenawee Parks and Cornice West Wall. Who knows, (the new Beavers terrain intermediate trail) Loafer might be in the mix before too long. Really looking forward to getting to the top.”

Also on Tuesday, A-Basin opened its beginner lower-mountain runs Sundance and Chisholm trail, mainly due to all of the natural snowfall the ski area received in recent days. Sundance’s snow was 100 percent all-natural.

“That is extraordinary for November 6,” Henceroth wrote.

In the afternoon, the ski area also provided limited openings on its advanced Exhibition run on the lower mountain.

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