There will be a fantastic feast Saturday night at Arapahoe Basin's Black Mountain Lodge. A whole-roasted hog is among the entrees, along with a spread of authentic international fare presented by executive chef Christopher Rybak. The only catch? You have to skin uphill for dinner.
Black Mountain is A-Basin's mid-mountain lodge, and the "Night in Bavaria" Randonee Dinner is not lift-serviced, "so you have to put a bit of physical effort in when you get here," said A-Basin spokesperson Adrienne Saia Isaac.
French for "excursion," randonee is often used to refer to Alpine Touring (AT), where an ascent is made on one's own two feet via skis attached to special bindings that allow the heel free for uphill travel. Fastened to the skis are "skins"- once made of animal skins but now synthetic fibers - that prevent the skier from sliding down as he or she moves uphill. At the top, the skins are removed and the heel clipped down for the descent.
That said, other modes of travel, including snowshoeing, splitboarding and telemark skiing, are welcome at Saturday's event. "The randonee dinner is a really cool experience - crisp air, being on mountain under the full moon and a great post-Thanksgiving workout," said Isaac.
Once skinners and hikers reach Black Mountain Lodge, Chef Rybak has a warming aperitif in store, followed by an hors d'oeuvres buffet of European grilled sausages, air-dried meats and cheeses and hearth-baked breads. The Bavarian buffet follows, featuring a whole-roasted hog with sauerkraut and dumplings, Wiener schnitzel, braised pheasant and North Atlantic cod. Dessert includes apple pancakes with lemon sauce, poppy seed cake and Black Forest torte. (The menu is subject to change based on availability of locally sourced ingredients.)
Afterward, guests don skis or snowboards and descend the mountain in the moonlight. Both the ascent and descent take place on open, skiable terrain, such as the intermediate trails Ramrod and High Noon.
The dinner is part of A-Basin's Moonlight Dinner series, held on Saturdays during the full moon cycle. Most allow downhill snowshoeing afterward - but Saturday's dinner is the only one where guests are allowed to ski or snowboard down.
"In the past two years that this event has been held at the Basin, we've seen active Colorado locals of all ages who like to get in a hike or skin - and, of course, a hearty meal afterward - join us," Isaac said. This weekend, organizers are pleased to welcome out-of-state guests too. Said Isaac: "If you love skiing and you love food, this is your event."
The next Moonlight Dinners take place on Dec. 31 (sold out), Jan. 26, Feb. 23, March 23 and April 20.