Keystone closes; A-Basin remains open |

Keystone closes; A-Basin remains open

Lu Snyder

SUMMIT COUNTY – Both skiers and snow were sparse at Keystone for its closing day Sunday.

The parking lot was mostly empty. River Run village was quiet. There were no lift lines, and skiers and boarders easily could find themselves alone on ski runs.

“I thought “last day’ … people would be up for the finale,” said George Borchers, of Lafayette, who was skiing Sunday with Ronda Mondiekis, also of Lafayette. He said he was surprised by the lack of people.

Borchers described the two as die-hards, and said they enjoy the late-season experience, despite the variable snow conditions.

Several runs were in surprisingly good shape Sunday, considering Keystone received the least amount of snowfall of all the Summit County ski areas this year.

Other trails, however, were not so great. Skiers and boarders had to keep their eyes open to avoid large patches of exposed ground on some trails, and dirt and stones scattered across thin snow on others.

It wasn’t quite warm enough to hit the slopes in shorts or bikinis – with temperatures in the 40s and a steady breeze blowing – but the sun was shining, the ski was blue, there were no crowds. For many, that’s all it takes for a good day on the slopes.

According to resort officials at Keystone, Sunday was the end of a good season.

“Like all of Colorado, we struggled a little bit with snow this year,” said communications coordinator Helen Hill. “But we really felt we met the challenge with grooming. And people were really happy.”

“When we look at how we do, the most important thing is (whether) the people who were here and skiing really enjoyed their visit,” said Keystone communications manager Dawn Doty. “That’s a really good way for us to gauge our year.”

There seemed to be more people up the road at Arapahoe Basin Sunday – a place renowned for its spring skiing.

Still, it wasn’t a typical April weekend there.

It’s not unusual for parking lots to fill at A-Basin by noon on spring weekends, and for more cars to line the highway until the tow trucks arrive.

Sunday looked more like late May or June weekend at A-Basin.

The “beach” has melted and people barbecued at the edge of the parking lot instead. The ski racks have been moved from the edge of the A-frame lodge, closer to the parking lot. And guests walked across a boardwalk to get to the Expedition lift.

Though the Pali lift has been closed for the season (and all of the slopes it serves), 60 percent of A-Basin’s terrain remains open.

“The last few days have really helped with the cloud cover and the couple inches of snow we’ve gotten,” said Leigh Hierholzer, director of marketing at A-Basin.

Hierholzer said there was a great turnout at the “Local’s Party” Wednesday.

“That just kind of shows it’s still the place to go in the spring,” she said.

Like many areas in Colorado, the season’s lack of snow hurt A-Basin this year. The ski area had its latest opening ever – Dec. 21 – and was not able to open all of its terrain.

Considering the “below average snowfall … our numbers are as good as can be expected,” Hierholzer said. “It would have helped early season, probably, if we had snowmaking – it would have helped with the base.”

The resort has been approved for snowmaking next year, which should allow A-Basin to open earlier. The resulting base also should help the resort stay open longer, into the summer months.

Hierholzer said resort officials are looking forward to next season and are hoping it will be a good snow year.

Dillon resident, Stephan Jencsok agreed Colorado’s skiing has seen better years.

“Hopefully, next year, we get back to our normal snow pack,” he said.

Still, he said he’s had a good season.

Jencsok said he’s already skied approximately 90 days this year – in Summit County, Vail, Europe, Montana and British Columbia – “and it’s not over yet.”

Another self-described die-hard, Jencsok said “I’ll ski as long as the snow lasts.”

Hierholzer said A-Basin will be open until Memorial Day, May 27.

Vail and Beaver Creek closed Sunday, April 14. Copper Mountain and Breckenridge closed Sunday, April 21.

Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998 x203 or

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