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Arapahoe Basin

At: Colorado, United States
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About: Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin or simply, the Basin) is a renowned ski area for alpine skiing high in White River National Forest of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Arapahoe Basin is also known for its especially long season - staying open until at least early June, whereas most other northern ski areas close in early May. A-Basin is located on the west side of Loveland Pass on US 6 highway in Summit County. Geography and Climate The A-Basin East Wall has a summit elevation of 13,050 feet (3977m). It is widely regarded as the highest ski-able terrain in North America, but new contender Silverton Mountain has terrain up to 13,487 feet. Due to its high altitude (at tree line) and its mostly north to northeast face, the Basin remains open for skiing much longer than most Colorado resorts, and often starts earlier as well. Arapahoe Basin is known for a clientele of hardcore, yet relaxed folks that like to simply to ski and avoid the glamour associated with resorts like Aspen. It has been known to stay open until July and opens for the season in mid-October, often making it the first ski area to open in North America. A-Basin is located just below Loveland Pass. It therefore offers a spectacular view of the Continental Divide (which it borders) from the lifts. From the top of the East Wall and the North Pole there are great views of Lake Dillon, Breckenridge, Keystone, Montezuma and Loveland Pass. The Basin is located about 65 miles west of Denver, where Loveland and Eldora are somewhat closer, at 53 and 45 miles respectively. Ski area information A-Basin has three 'lodges'. At the base is a full cafeteria, bar, and coffee bar. There is also a grill outside for warm days. At the peak of the Norway and Lenawee lifts is the Snow Plume refuge, a warming hut that sells drinks, snacks, and hot soup. At the top of the Exhibition lift, Black Mountain Lodge sits, serving an Alpine Bistro style menu. Though it is mostly known for advanced and expert terrain, A-Basin also has runs for the novice and intermediate skier, as well as a children's program. The Exhibition, Molly Hogan, and Molly's Magic Carpet lifts service easy runs. The Molly Hogan is a slow lift running over the bunny slope, for use by those just learning to ski. Exhibition services greens, blues, and two blacks: one named for the lift, and The Gulch which runs parallel to Exhibition. The aptly named Exhibition run features bumps, steep terrain, and a fair number of jumps. The Pallavicini lift services mostly black and double black terrain on the west side of the mountain, though it is possible to take some difficult blues back to the base. The Pallavicini face itself, a group of very steep and seemingly endless mogul runs, is rated double black diamond extreme. The Lenawee and Norway lifts take skiers to the top of the mountain, where they can access blues, blacks, and the East Wall. Opposite of the East Wall there is a blue called Cornice Run where skiers can take leaps from windblown cornices, though sometimes visibility can be a deterrent. Arapahoe Basin opened Zuma lift during the 2007-2008 season which services blue, black and double black trails over the backside of Arapahoe Basin in Montezuma Bowl. The largest terrain expansion in the nation for the 2007-2008 season marks an 80% increase in terrain for Arapahoe Basin. Montezuma Bowl offers everything from groomed intermediate runs to advanced cornice runs. The East Wall contains the most difficult terrain at A-Basin. The Lower East Wall is rated black diamond and can be reached without hiking. Open primarily in late winter and spring, the Upper East Wall is rated double black diamond extreme and is only accessible on foot. A hike of approximately 30 minutes will take you to the North Pole, a very steep descent through rocky terrain over avalanche-blasted territory. Along the ridge prior to the North Pole is a group of chutes accessed through notches in the cliff band. One chute actually requires some rock downclimbing to reach skiable snow, an interesting experience in ski boots while holding a pair of skis. These chutes are often only a couple of ski widths wide and require mountaineering skiing ability. Most of the terrain is prone to avalanches and is regularly blasted by the ski patrol before they declare the wall open. The Lower and Upper East Wall is bisected by the East Wall Traverse which is quite long and accesses a lot of difficult-to-reach territory from above and below, leaving prime snow conditions available for those willing to make the trek. The entire East Wall is not groomed and should not be taken lightly since evacuation by the ski patrol in this area is a difficult undertaking.

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