Arapahoe Basin Ski Area slopes maintenance manager describes what it takes to open for the Fourth of July
On the eve of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s first Fourth of July skiing and riding day in eight years, the ski area’s operations director for lifts and slopes maintenance Louis Skowyra recapped the numerous variables that led to July skiing at the Continental Divide.
“There are so many things going on, so many things changing,” Skowyra said in a video shared by A-Basin. “But the transition periods are really the fun time of year up here, certainly for those of us in the slopes maintenance department. This is the slopes maintenance department’s time to shine out here.”
Lift hours: 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Lifts open: Black Mountain Express and Lenawee
Adult lift ticket price: $69 for a full-day lift ticket (no half-day tickets available). Show a season ski pass that was valid anywhere in the world this season to get a $59 lift ticket.
Rentals: Will be available
The Beach: Spots will be first come, first served
Food: The 6th Alley Bar and Grill will be open 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last call is 3:30 p.m.)
Skowyra, a Dillon resident, tipped his visor to Mother Nature and mentioned May’s lower-than-average temperatures as a primary reason A-Basin is able to spin its lifts for skiing and riding Thursday.
Skowyra also credited A-Basin’s snowmaking crew for its work dating back 10 months, when A-Basin fired up its snowmaking guns for the season Sept. 21. He said it’s the ski area’s focus on snowmaking on certain portions of the mountain’s front-side terrain that not only helps A-Basin to open early but also to have a solid base of snow in May, June or July.
“A lot of what we are doing right now has a snowmaking base on it,” Skowyra said. “And that snow tends to hold up better this time of year.”
Once the snow begins melting, Skowyra’s crew manages the runoff while keeping a rideable ribbon in mind.
“The water can get into our snowpack and wash things away pretty quickly,” Skowyra said. “So a lot of what our snowcat operators are doing are allowing for the water to flow where it wants to go, into water bars, into natural gullies and ravines. We want to let it do so, therefore we can maintain our snow strips in certain places.”
Skowyra said the ski area’s slopes maintenance crew likes to consolidate the snow with a focus on decreasing the surface area yet maintaining as much depth as possible.
“That way, it can erode at 4 to 5 inches a day,” Skowyra said. “Which is what is happening here right now.”
As of Wednesday evening, A-Basin was reporting a 19-inch base with spring skiing conditions and a high temperature of 72. The ski area’s Fourth of July forecast calls for a high of 68 degrees and isolated thunderstorms.
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