Arapahoe Basin Ski Area releases mini-documentary about building new Beavers lift
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Wednesday released a mini documentary that takes viewers through the arduous process behind opening up the ski area’s newest lift-serviced terrain expansion, The Beavers.
A-Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth explains at the beginning of the video how The Beavers was actually an on-the-map skiable portion of The Basin’s terrain as far back as 1946, when the ski area was founded. That said, the ski area didn’t open lift-serviced inbounds skiing in this area until this season.
The 5-minute video touches on several elements of the construction process including how many more trees A-Basin cut to widen runs in The Beavers and Steep Gullies.
“Working with our partners at the (U.S.) Forest Service,” said Louis Skowyra, the ski area’s director of operations of lifts and snow surface, “we were given allowances to enhance hundred-foot swathes within the trees out there. Within those hundred-foot swathes, the Forest Service gave us an allowance to take 20 percent of total tree diameter. We ended up taking quite a bit less than that, more on the average of 5-10 percent.”
In the video, Henceroth also describes how the basin transported materials and debris in and out of the steep and remote area.
“We used a helicopter to fly all of the trees out of there,” Henceroth said, “that way we didn’t disturb the soil. The plants on the ground stayed intact and our construction season is only three or four months long. We had a lot of work to do in a short time. So, the first year, the summer of 2017, we cut the ski trails, we cut the lift lines, we started doing some of the glading. And, the second summer, 2018, we built the chairlift and continued on with some of the grading work.”
Henceroth said the ski area used a spider hoe to dig the holes for the new lift towers. He described the machine as “a crazy-looking excavator.”
“It has got these wild, articulated legs,” Henceroth said, “It allows it to travel through rugged and rough terrain.”
The operator of the spider hoe, Kevin Soller, said the ski area did its best to use the machine to leave no trace.
“A lot of the other lifts that have been built,” Soller said, “you can tell where machines have been up and down, and that’s where these things really excel. After just a little bit of time, you can’t even tell we were in there.”
Gilbert Filz, the Beavers lift’s project manager from the ski lift company Leitner Poma, said the lift’s foundations comprised 50 percent of the project. He said the Beavers process was “a little bit particular” because the crew had to dig it by hand or by spider hoe.
“A lot of logistics,” Filz said, “when you don’t have access by trucks, everything has to be flown. We brought a super Black Hawk (helicopter) that will be able to place some equipment at 6,000 pounds at almost 12,000 feet.”
Tony Cammarata, the ski area’s director of operations for patrols, parks and planning, said that The Beavers features an explosives delivery system.
“Part of the added value of the EDS system is that it allows out staff to work this terrain not only more safely,” Cammarata said, “but in a manner that allows us to open this terrain quickly to our guests, especially on new snow days.”
To watch the full video, go to: YouYube.com/User/ArapahoeBasinSkiArea/videos.
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