Beavers fever: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area opens small part of terrain expansion Sunday | SummitDaily.com

Beavers fever: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area opens small part of terrain expansion Sunday

For an hour-and-a-half on Sunday, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area for the first time officially opened to the public a small portion of its 468-acre terrain expansion into The Beavers and The Steep Gullies.

A-Basin ski patrol opened the limited terrain for a short time Sunday after the ski area received four inches of new snow with the weekend storm. The terrain opened to the public included the advanced Loafer, Alex and Jaeger runs as well as part of the advanced Beaver Bowl.

A-Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth said in a blog post Sunday evening that about 100 skiers and riders accessed the terrain Sunday. The COO commended the skiing as "exceptional," though he cautioned that Sunday's opening was just the first of several "soft openings" within the terrain expansion that A-Basin has planned for the season.

"We want to pack the snow down gently mixing this snow in with the snow of our next storm and the following storm and the following storm," Henceroth wrote. "There won't be a big marketing pitch just yet. For now, let's ski it in and savor the moment."

Just what terrain will be open within the Beavers expansion will be day-to-day and "extremely limited" moving forward, A-Basin spokeswoman Adrienne Isaac said in an email Tuesday.

On his blog, Henceroth further cautioned that skiing and riding within this expansion terrain is not for everyone, as with the first-time opening he said the snow can be variable and there are obstacles in the area.

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Sunday's skiing and riding within the terrain expansion also required skiers and snowboarders to complete a 20-30 minute hike back to the bottom of the Pallavicini Lift.

"There is a certain segment of our guests that absolutely love stuff like this," Henceroth wrote. "If that is you, join the fun. If you don't go gaga over my description, you might want to wait for the lift next season."

The construction and rollout of the terrain expansion at A-Basin is planned to carry out in several phases through next ski season. The ski area's plan for this season was to open The Steep Gullies and a portion of The Beavers to skiing and riding as in-bounds hike-back terrain only.

Then this summer, A-Basin plans to install a fixed-grip quad chairlift for The Beavers that is scheduled to open next year. That will mean the 339 acres of The Beavers at A-Basin will be lift-served beginning in 2018-19 while The Steep Gullies will remain hike-back terrain along an egress route to the bottom of the Pallavicini Lift.

"Today's opening is the very beginning of some extraordinary skiing we will enjoy for decades and decades," Henceroth wrote in the Sunday evening blog post. "Thanks to everyone that made this happen. Over the years, hundreds of people have been involved in this project. A great deal of time was spent planning, designing, working on approvals and, of course, building the expansion. We still have a lot to do this summer (maybe next summer too), but today we are off to a fine start."

In an additional blog post Monday morning, Henceroth said several hundred people skied within The Beavers over the previous couple of days. The COO also laid out to skiers and snowboarders their options for traveling back via the Steep Gullies Hike Back Trail, whether carrying their skis on their shoulders and walking in their ski boots, strapping skis to a light pack, or skinning.

"The other factor to consider is clothing," Henceroth wrote. "A Beavers tour starts well above timberline in colder and windier conditions. It finishes with a 20-30 minute hike. You go from cold to sweaty. Having a pack to carry your coat and helmet and other gear is very nice."

The expansion into the Beavers & The Steep Gullies to the west of the ski area's boundary follows a comprehensive master planning process and environmental review that A-Basin undertook in recent years, including the Nov. 2016 approval from the U.S. Forest Service of the ski area's planned expansion. In total, the new terrain will add approximately 468 acres of skiable terrain to A-Basin, increasing its total acreage to 1,428 acres upon completion of the project.

The ski area's plans for the rolling and varied terrain within The Beavers include levels of difficulty from some groomed intermediate terrain to mostly difficult black diamond tree skiing. The Beavers also feature open bowl skiing at the top and glades on the west side and within the lower two-thirds of the terrain.

Over at The Steep Gullies, the ski area says these steep, narrow chutes — runs that are numbered one through seven and vary in pitch and width — will be the most challenging terrain at A-Basin and rated extreme, or double-black diamond.

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