After opening a new downhill mountain biking trail, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area elaborates on future summer recreation plans
ARAPAHOE BASIN SKI AREA — Ski season is coming soon, but the team at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area elaborated over the weekend on its new mountain biking trail, which opened Saturday.
Dubbed Atomic Janitor, the portion of trail open to mountain bikers offers a 1 mile descent that was completed by trail crews from A-Basin and the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s Trail Solutions program.
Arapahoe Basin spokeswoman Katherine Fuller said in a news release Saturday afternoon that the open trail is a preview of what is to come over the next two summers when trail crews will build out a new mountain biking and hiking network that was designed in partnership with IMBA.
Fuller added that Atomic Janitor eventually will extend up the mountain’s front-side terrain and allow riders to descend from Black Mountain Lodge at midmountain to the base area.
“No other ski area in Colorado is doing what we’re doing here” at A-Basin, Joey Klein, of IMBA Trail Solutions, said in the release. “It’s a blend of old-school traditional singletrack and that new breed of purpose-built enduro mountain biking. You’re going to have to earn your turns to come up here and ride this stuff.”
In addition to Atomic Janitor, Fuller said IMBA Trail Solutions and A-Basin trail crews also built a new singletrack access route for the existing Argentine North Fork Trail. The new access route for mountain bikers bypasses a short section of road and offers a more bike-friendly climbing option.
• Length: 1 mile
• Vertical descent: 320 feet
• Trail rating: Intermediate
• Access: Climb 1 mile up the Argentine North Fork Trail
• Cost: Free
• Flavor: The trail is smooth and flowy with multiple rock sections, optional technical lines, large berms and rollers.
• Hiking allowed: No
• E-Bikes allowed: No
• Bike rentals on site: No
• Bike haul on lifts: No
Elaborating on A-Basin’s mountain biking and hiking for future summers, Fuller said construction will begin next summer on a large, cross-country-style mountain biking and hiking loop trail. It will eventually create about 10 miles of riding that will enable hikers and mountain bikers to explore much of the front side of the ski area.
She added that the ski area’s future high Alpine loop trail will ascend from midmountain to 12,500 feet — at the top of lift-served terrain — before heading west, traversing the ridgeline and descending into The Beavers area. The loop will finish by crossing the top of the Pallavicini terrain before connecting to Atomic Janitor for the descent. It is scheduled to be completed in summer 2021.
“The system could be described as backcountry — an intermediate-to-advanced, old-school riding experience on bike-optimized trails,” Fuller said.
Currently, A-Basin’s primary summer trail for recreation is the Lenawee Trail. An old U.S. Forest Service trail that descends off the top of the Basin, it’s a demanding, steep and rocky 3.3-mile, 2,000-foot elevation gain.
Fuller said there are no plans for lift-served mountain biking, though A-Basin will be listening to rider demand. For now, A-Basin intends to run its trails as a cross-country system. She also said most of the future trail network will be open to foot traffic.
Via ferrata and adventure park
A-Basin announced last fall its plans to vastly expand its summertime recreation offerings, including constructing about 10 miles of new trails for hiking and mountain biking and two “via ferrata” zones on the land it leases from the U.S. Forest Service.
A via ferrata — which is Italian for “iron path” — traditionally is a protected climbing route involving a steel cable that runs along the route and is periodically fixed to the rock. In this case, it’s A-Basin’s East Wall and a rock face within the ski area’s Steep Gullies terrain.
Climbers scale the via ferrata by securing themselves to the cable, which limits the possibility of falling. Additional climbing aids often are provided as well.
Fuller wrote in an email Tuesday that A-Basin has made some progress on the construction of its via ferratas with part of an access trail built and some of a climbing route set. Because of the ski area’s short weather window for working on the East Wall, that via ferrata likely will not be completed until late summer 2020, she added.
Fuller also said the ski area’s new aerial adventure park, which is on the mountain’s front-side, lower-mountain terrain, will most likely be available as soon as A-Basin begins summer operations in 2020.
That exact date depends on this upcoming winter. A-Basin remained open for skiing and snowboarding this past summer through July 4.
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