Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced its opening day for Wednesday, marking the official start to the Colorado ski and snowboard season. The first ski area to open in the state, A-Basin's Black Mountain Express lift begins operating 9 a.m.
"We're extremely excited to be the first ski area to open in Colorado," said Alan Henceroth, Arapahoe Basin chief operating officer. "The staff and I can't wait to see skiers and riders out on the hill having fun. That's what we live for."
The ski area will open with an 18-inch base and a few terrain park features, according to Henceroth.
The Black Mountain Express will tow skiers and riders to the High Noon trail. No beginner terrain will be available opening day, according to Adrienne Saia Isaac, communication coordinator of the ski area.
Last year A-Basin opened Oct. 13, prior to Loveland, which opened Oct. 14. Last season the ski area closed May 6.
The ski area's earliest opening in history was in 2009 when the ski area opened Oct. 9. Once snowmakers hit the 18-inch base mark they open for the year.
"Once we open, we stay open," Isaac said. "As soon as we reach an 18-inch base, we're ready to open for the season so year after year we open with the same base depth."
Historically, Loveland Ski Area and A-Basin compete for the earliest opening day, creating a long-standing, friendly rivalry.
Loveland reported 4 inches of natural snow Monday helping its snowmaking efforts but still anticipate needing more time to open as ski area officials expect to open later this week, according to John Sellers, marketing and communications director for the ski area.
"We want to say congrats to the whole A-Basin team, they've been working really hard just like we have been," Sellers said. "They edged us out just a little bit this year but I'm sure it's going to be a great season for both ski areas."
The last time Loveland opened before A-Basin was in 2010 when the ski area opened Oct. 24 and A-Basin one day later on the 25th.
Skiers and riders itching to get on the first few lifts, officials advise getting season passes ahead of time or coming early to pick up tickets at will call.
Vail Resorts passholders will not be able to get their passes at A-Basin on opening day. Instead, passholders will be able to pick them up from guest services at Keystone Resort.
Keystone will be open Tuesday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. for passholders to pick up their passes from Mountain Guest Services near the gondola.
Passholders also have the option to pick up their passes on weekends at the Breckenridge Ski Resort ticket office from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Adult lift ticket prices are $64, 52 for adult half-day through Dec. 21. Youth full day lift tickets are $54 and a child full day is $32.
New at A-Basin for the 2012-13 season is the Pika Place Learning Area, scheduled to open in November. Situated in the base area adjacent to the Black Mountain Express, Pika Place is geared toward younger guests and first-time skiers and riders. Pika Place features a new trail, a new conveyor lift and Ace's Kids Park, a beginner-level terrain park with smaller versions of popular features found in A-Basin's other two terrain parks.