2022 is a special ski season for A-Basin, Aspen and Breckenridge. Here’s why. | SummitDaily.com

2022 is a special ski season for A-Basin, Aspen and Breckenridge. Here’s why.

A look back at the beginnings of three venerable Colorado ski areas

John Meyer
The Denver Post
A group of skiers stop to pose for a photo while skiing at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. A-Basin is celebrating it's 75th anniversary this ski season.
Colorado Snowsports Museum/Courtesy photo

DENVER — Two ski areas pioneered by 10th Mountain Division combat veterans in the aftermath of World War II, and another co-founded by a Norwegian who lived under Nazi occupation in his homeland during the war, are observing landmark anniversaries this ski season in Colorado.

Aspen Mountain and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area are celebrating 75 years, while Breckenridge Ski Resort is marking 60. Loveland, Winter Park and Monarch are the only sizable Colorado areas that are older than Aspen and A-Basin. Howelsen Hill, a small skiing complex in Steamboat Springs that has launched dozens of Olympians, began operations in 1915 and is Colorado’s oldest continuously operated ski area.

The late Dick Durrance, a 1936 Olympic ski racer who was Aspen’s general manager from 1947 to 1952, helped start Arapahoe Basin with 10th Mountain veteran Larry Jump and another former ski racer, Sandy Schauffler. A-Basin opened in December 1946 with a single rope tow from midmountain to the summit.

Arapahoe Basin is located at the foot of Loveland Pass on the Summit County side. During its first two decades of operation, the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels didn’t exist, meaning the quickest way to Summit County was over the pass. Arapahoe Basin grew, but when the first two-lane tunnel bore under the Continental Divide opened in 1973, eliminating the need for westbound skiers to brave the two-lane road over the 11,991-foot pass, Jump sold the area.

A-Basin was Summit County’s only ski area until December 1961, when Breckenridge opened under the name Peak 8. Construction had begun that year on a dam that would create Dillon Reservoir, meaning Summit County was about to become a recreation destination.

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