Arapahoe Basin Ski Area installing new 4-person ‘Beavers’ lift, starts making snow Tuesday morning

Helicopters on Sunday transport lift towers for Arapahoe Basin Ski Area's new chairlift, The Beavers, which for the first-time this year will service 339 acres of the ski area's 468-acre terrain expansion.
Courtesy Ashley Ojala, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

After years of anticipation, the Beavers lift at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is close to becoming reality.

On Sunday, crews from the ski area and the lift company Leitner-Poma installed, via helicopter, 12 of the 15 lift towers for the new four-person Beavers Lift.

The quad lift, which will serve 339 acres of A-Basin’s 468-acre terrain expansion into The Beavers and Steep Gullies, will open at a yet-to-be determined time this season. A-Basin spokeswoman Adrienne Isaac said the opening of the new lift will fall in line with the opening of the advanced Beavers terrain it services, and that’ll depend on early season snowfall, or lack thereof.

The double-black diamond Steep Gullies terrain will not be serviced by this lift and requires a 30-minute hike.

Isaac added that the Beavers expansion is in a roadless area at A-Basin, where work crews have to hike into the area and helicopters are used to fly in materials in order to ensure minimal ground impact.

“We had a very successful day,” A-Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth wrote on his blog on Sunday. “Twelve of 15 lift towers are standing. The bullwheel is ready to be set. The Lift Operator House is roughed in. Just about all of the grading is done. This thing is starting to look like a chairlift.”

Henceroth added in his blog on Sunday that Leitner Poma was busy that same day building several lifts in the region.

“As I speak,” he wrote, “the helicopter has gone to Copper Mountain (Resort) for a couple hours to do some work there. We should see it back in a bit and by the end of the day, 12 towers should be standing. By the end of the week, all 15 towers should be standing.”

A-Basin and Copper are two of three local ski areas and resorts — the other being Loveland Ski Area just east of the Eisenhower Tunnel — that are installing new or renovated lifts in time for this winter season. At Copper Mountain, Leitner Poma is putting the finishing touches on installing the new high-speed, six-person American Flyer chair, complete with bubble enclosures, and the new high-speed American Eagle lift, which will feature both six-person chairs and eight-person gondola cabins. Copper is currently planning a Nov. 16 opening day for the 2018-19 season.

At Loveland Ski Area, the recently named “Chet’s Dream” lift will replace the former Lift 1. Also a Leitner Poma product, the new Loveland lift will be a high-speed detachable quad.

A-Basin snowmaking

Arapahoe Basin also conducted a snowmaking session Monday night into Tuesday morning, following last week’s test of its snowmaking equipment on the High Noon trail.

On Tuesday just before 8 a.m., Henceroth wrote on his blog that the ski area’s snowmaking operations were continuing live at that time into Tuesday mid-morning.

“Actually as I write, the guns are still going strong,” Henceroth said. “We have now ‘exercised’ all of the equipment on High Noon. With a wet bulb (temperature) of 22 (degrees Fahrenheit), the temperature was colder than we expected. This was a bona-fide snowmaking session. Looking at the forecast, we are going to see some warming weather. That said, when the next cold temperatures come around, we are ready.”

Keystone and Loveland snowmaking

Just down the road from A-Basin, Keystone Resort also received a dusting of snow on Monday night. With the tease of winter conditions, Keystone Resort spokesman Loryn Roberson said the resort is on track to start making snow in mid-October. Both Keystone and its sister Vail Resorts property Breckenridge Ski Resort are currently planning Nov. 9 for opening day.

Per the countdown clock on Loveland’s website, the ski area is currently planning to begin its seasonal snowmaking operations around midnight Saturday. Loveland’s snowmaking team typically starts making snow the last week of September in preparation for a mid-October opening.

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