Arapahoe Basin opens Steep Gullies 1, 2 and 4, as Breckenridge Ski Resort hits 98% open terrain

While other Summit County ski resorts hit 100% open terrain last month, Breckenridge Ski Resort and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area continue to work on opening some of the county's most extreme terrain.

A snowstorm dropped 7 inches of powder on Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Jan. 31, 2023, as ski patrol continues to work to open extreme terrain including several of the Steep Gullies and The East Wall.
Ian Zinner/Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

Fresh snow early in the week continued to fill in the nooks and crannies of extreme terrain at Summit County ski resorts, aiding efforts to open some of the steepest and rockiest trails local resorts have to offer.

A snowy month led Keystone Resort and Copper Mountain to open 100% of their terrain before the end of January — and now skiers and riders are only waiting on some of the county’s most extreme terrain at Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge Ski Resort to open.

“Our most recent storm had a positive impact on our snowpack and set our high alpine terrain up to be skiing and riding at its best,” Breckenridge’s senior communications specialist Shayna Silverman said. “The lines are filling in and providing prime skiing conditions.”

As of Feb. 1, Breckenridge has managed to open 98% of its terrain, with ropes dropping at some of the resort’s signature high alpine terrain — like Whale’s Tail, Peak 7 Bowl and the Serenity Bowl — in recent weeks, according to Silverman. As the team looks to open more terrain, the past week brought an additional 15 inches of snow to the resort, she said.

Ski Patrollers were up in the Lake Chutes on Thursday, Silverman said, though it could be another day or two until that terrain is ready to open. Then it is on to Snow White — a massive piece of high-alpine terrain that will take a bit more time to open.

“A ton of work from our patrol team goes into opening these last pieces of terrain,” Silverman said. “Every morning, they’re up there early getting the mountain open safely for our guests, especially our high-alpine terrain with variable conditions, like Lake Chutes.”

Speed-grade, natural and rocky terrain like the Lake Chutes can be highly variable, even once it’s open for the season, and ski patrol “has to take it as it comes each day,” Silverman said. Ski patrol teams constantly monitor the weather and do extensive avalanche mitigation work to open these areas and keep them open throughout the season, she said.

A snowboarder drops into Whale’s Tail, a recently-opened area of high alpine terrain at Breckenridge Ski Resort, on Jan. 26, 2023.
Sarah McLear/Breckenridge Ski Resort

Meanwhile, at Arapahoe Basin, Steep Gullies 1, 2 and 4 opened Sunday, Jan. 29, just two days before a snowstorm blanketed the ski area with seven inches of fresh powder, according to Katherine Fuller, the ski area’s senior communications manager.

With rocky crags and sheer grades, these extreme trails accessible from the Pallavicini Lift require about a 20-minute hike back to the base area and can close at any time due to conditions, according to Fuller.

With a total of 46 inches of snow through January, all lifts at Arapahoe Basin are running and the Treeline terrain park is open, Fuller said. The ski area has opened 100% of its green, blue and black terrain and 79% of its double-black terrain. That includes all of the Montezuma Bowl, which opened earlier than last season and got to 100% relatively quickly, according to Fuller.

Ski patrol continues to work to open the remaining five Steep Gullies routes, Fuller said. And their next big project is The East Wall, which has an opening window between January and March.

“That’s a big time frame, but because of how steep and rocky it is, The East Wall requires a great deal of snow and avalanche mitigation,” Fuller said. “We don’t know yet when that will open but ski patrol work has been ongoing and is ramping up this week.”

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