A-Basin officials lead media tour into Zuma Bowl | SummitDaily.com

A-Basin officials lead media tour into Zuma Bowl

DEVON O'NEILsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily/Bob Winsett

ARAPAHOE BASIN – With Montezuma Bowl slated to open less than a year from now, Arapahoe Basin general manager Alan Henceroth and marketing director Leigh Hierholzer began the marketing push on Tuesday, leading a collection of local and industry media on the first group tour through the expansive terrain. The tour highlighted the bowl’s diversity while stressing yet again that they are doing everything possible to minimize the environmental effects of the expansion.Media members from the Denver Post, SKI magazine, RSN and the Summit Daily News, among others, checked out the bowl from below and above, as Henceroth and Hierholzer answered questions on topics ranging from construction to variety of terrain to whether they’ve received any local backlash.Henceroth said the lift will open next season as early as conditions permit, and that it should be completed some time around October.

“This year we would’ve opened probably the week before Christmas, and last season we would’ve opened before Thanksgiving,” Henceroth said. “So it’s going to be a good four, five-month season back here.”We’ll just be waiting for snow.”A-Basin touts its terrain total as 490 acres, but that number does not include the East Wall because it’s open too sporadically, Hierholzer said.

Zuma Bowl will add slightly less than 400 acres to the resort’s available terrain, thus nearly doubling the total. It will provide intermediate groomers through the west-facing gut as well as double-black-diamond pitches on the western, south-facing arm of the bowl, with a maximum pitch of about 35-40 degrees, Henceroth said. The bowl also offers plentiful options to get airborn, which the Basin has long been known for in its existing areas.Henceroth said there will be a slightly uphill traverse from the top of the Lenawee chair to access the tamer terrain in Zuma Bowl (the western wall will be accessed by a different entry). When asked why the traverse wouldn’t be downhill, he said the ski area would’ve had to excavate more than 10,000 cubic yards of earth to make that happen.

“Our whole point in this is we’re trying to leave as soft an environmental footprint as possible,” he said.Henceroth pointed out that backcountry skiers who have skied the Zuma Bowl before have almost always used the Basin’s lifts to access it, through a gate above the Lenawee chair. “In all my time here,” the 19-year Basin employee said, “I’ve only seen one guy riding or skiing back here that didn’t use our lift. So although it’s an out-of-bounds area, it’s very much a lift-served skiing area. It’s not a radical, radical change.”

In fact, Henceroth said, during a recent conversation with A-Basin founder Max Dercum, Dercum told him they’d considered expanding into Montezuma Bowl back in 1946, when the ski area first opened.”These aren’t new ideas,” Henceroth said. “It just took us about 60 years to do all of them.”Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-4633, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.

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