Eager for The Beavers: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area explains what it will take to open new section | SummitDaily.com

Eager for The Beavers: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area explains what it will take to open new section

Weeks into the 2017-18 ski season, some anxious skiers and snowboarders are pining for the opening of more advanced terrain here in Summit County, including Arapahoe Basin Ski Area's 468-acre expansion into The Steep Gullies and The Beavers.

Forty-six days since A-Basin became the first ski area in the state to open on Oct. 13, Mother Nature's recent warm weather and sunny skies have dashed the hopes for an early season open to the ski area's new, steep and natural snowfall-dependent terrain. Days out from December, almost all other advanced terrain at various county resorts also remains shuttered.

As of Tuesday afternoon, A-Basin listed none of its single or double black diamond terrain as open. Likewise for Breckenridge Ski Resort, Loveland Ski Area and Copper Mountain Resort.

At Keystone Resort, just one black diamond trail is open, The Edge. And at Copper, the advanced Mine Dump and CDL Train #20 runs remained closed as of Thursday despite the resort's initial plans to open both advanced trails on Monday. The U.S. Ski Team, however, has been skiing some advanced terrain in Copper's East Village since they commenced their session at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center last month.

“The opening of The Beavers will be much more closely linked to The Steep Gullies.”Alan HencerothA-Basin COO

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Tuesday morning, A-Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth did provide a glimpse into what it will take for The Beavers to open for the first time.

Writing on his blog, Henceroth said the opening of the Beavers this season will have "unique" challenges without a chairlift to transport skiers and snowboarders.

"The opening of The Beavers will be much more closely linked to The Steep Gullies," Henceroth wrote. "All the skier traffic from The Beavers will traverse across the toes of The Steep Gullies. The Steep Gullies don't have to be open for The Beavers to open, but our Snow Safety Team needs to be comfortable with allowing people to cross those run out zones. Without a chairlift this season, the process will be slower."

Henceroth added that he is unsure if The Beavers or the popular Montezuma Bowl will open first this season.

"Montezuma Bowl has been open 10 years now," he wrote. "Over time, we have learned many tricks about managing the snow and speeding up its opening. We will take those lessons to The Beavers and The Steep Gullies and, certainly, learn a few more. Over time, I suspect we will open the terrain more quickly."

With a lift in town next season, Henceroth said 2018-19 will be different than this inaugural year for The Beavers.

"Once The Beavers Chairlift is running," the COO wrote, "The Beavers will probably open after Pali Lift opens and before Montezuma Bowl opens. The Steep Gullies will open sometime later. The Beavers and The Steep Gullies will be managed as two very separate areas … With the lift, The Beavers can open separately from The Steep Gullies and, most likely before Montezuma. The Beavers face predominantly north, receive very good snowfall and have some relatively smooth terrain surfaces."

Speaking Tuesday afternoon, A-Basin spokeswoman Adrienne Isaac said A-Basin's mid-mountain weather station has a base snow depth of 20 inches since the ski area received more than 65 inches total since the start of the season. Isaac also said that the ski area does not report season snowfall or base depth at The Beavers specifically. And the spokeswoman added that the amount of terrain A-Basin has open currently is not uncommon for this time of year.

"Conditions are actually quite good for this point in November," she continued. "Sometimes we get lucky with early season snow and have more terrain open, sometimes we have less. We all just have to roll with what Mother Nature gives us."