Ski Blog... Been doing this since 2005!

October 16, 2008

John at Steamboat Springs Blog has First Hand Account of ABasin

Check the first hand account of the WROD start of ski season at A-Basin.

We skied A-Basin and then Loveland today for their opening day. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the snow was very good with only a few hard spots.A-Basin was pretty crowded with long lift lines but Loveland was wide open with a perfect run that had a steeper pitch for Alden to find his carve on. Alden must have been the only little guy there because we got interviewed by the Rocky Mountain News soon after arriving and then the Denver Post a few minutes later. We had a great day and I couldn't help but picture many more with him and my 2 yr old daughter Neve on Mt Werner in Steamboat this season. We have already been in training for several week watching ski movies to inspire us for the coming season.

Good times bro. Look forward to hitting Steamboat with you.

Posted by Justin at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

October 15, 2008

White Ribbon of Death at ABasin Opens Ski Season

A-Basin opened today with the WROD:

Posted by Justin at 06:58 PM | Comments (4)

December 20, 2007

Running the Numbers

I use Beaver Creek as an example, but in reality I am referring to any major megaresort--you know, the ones that the ski magazines drool about. This is more an illustration of the pros and cons of major destination skiing at a high end resort (Vail, Aspen, Beaver Creek, Breck, Keystone, Park City, Whistler, etc.) versus skiing at a smaller resort in the Rockies that costs half as much but also offers less. I am going to run down the resorts that I have skied and compare and contrast them:

Colorado - Wolf Creek, Beaver Creek, Loveland, and A-Basin
Arizona - Snowbowl, Sunrise
Montana - Red Lodge, Big Sky
Utah - Alta, Brian Head

What you find is that once you find a place that you really like, you tend to go there until you find a better deal, get bored, etc. So I am an Alta guy because I just like it so well because of the price, location, skiers only policy, snow quality, and experience that I never drive to the other resorts in the area. Now, I am probably going to have a tough time ever going to Vail because Beaver Creek is so awesome and I have yet to even scratch the surface of all that is there. I am not sure how to compare Beaver Creek to Vail to Keystone to Breck when you couldn't touch all the mountain on any of them in a week or solid skiing.

I am assuming that for folks with the Colorado Pass, they choose their resort based on snowfall numbers, location, or just plain familiarity. So since I haven't skied all the resorts, I leave it open for more comments and info. This is somewhat generic, but there are just too many resorts to know everything about. For the most part though, the mega resorts are that way for a reason--they have a lot to offer and all compare very favorably to the next tier or resorts.

In my mind, there are three categories of ski resorts. Megaresorts. Midsize resorts (and this is a broad category). And places that just plain blow. First, let's talk about the mega resorts. You are going to get a well developed base area, great restaurants, touristy bars, lots of high end shops, and a few high end hotels. Expect lots of folks that are crazy rich and have really nice stuff. Expect people in $1000 jackets riding $2000 worth of gear on groomers who look crazy pimped sipping lattes at the base area. Folks from the East Coast can't get this kind of snow or experience so expect most folks are destination skiers or locals that get really good pass deals or work at the resort. Lots of folks from Europe, etc. Just a different kind of guest. But folks don't come for just the base area. The mountains are massive, but you gotta have the skills to relly enjoy it. And the money to spend because it ain't cheap. EVEN WHEN YOU GET A GREAT DEAL.

The next category is the smaller Rocky Mountain resorts and most East coast resorts. Places like Wolf Creek or Bridger Bowl or Brian Head. Usually these resorts are smaller mountains and do not offer the same level of amenities as the big guys. Not as much vertical. Off the beaten path. Poor airport access. No development rights. Less snowfall. But far lower prices. So then it is a matter of what you are willing to sacrifice. All of these resorts are missing something and it is up to you to decide what you are willing to sacrifice. I am willing to sacrifice shopping, dining, amenities, and nightlife but not snow. I would rather ski powder at a small resort that offers nothing (i.e. Wolf Creek) than ski crap snow at a more developed resort.

I won't get into the third category of places that just plain suck, but they are out there. Usually they have a couple old doubles that some other resort took out 20 years ago.

Beaver Creek was the first place that I didn't have to worry about a sacrifice. I look at the things that I usually am willing to give up. First, I give up base area amenities. I like to stay in town where I can afford it anyway. Then I give up nightlife. Then I give up some of the massive areas and vertical. What I usually don't give up is snow.

I can't get over the $92 price tag. So now it really highlights how good the Colorado Pass is. Season pass at Key, Breck, A-basin, and then the free days at Vail and Beaver Creek. I am just hating that I don't live in Colorado. The Beav and the Colorado resorts are so affordable for locals due to VRI's passes. I can't help but sing their praises. If you want to ski these resorts, you just have to look for deals and I am able to ski Vail and the Beav for the same price as Brian Head.

Posted by Justin at 09:40 AM | Comments (3)

October 10, 2007

No Effing Way - A-Basin to Open Today

Check this:

It's supposed to be 75 degrees today in Boulder, but don't be fooled — ski season officially begins at 9 this morning.

Summit County's Arapahoe Basin is set to open its Exhibition chairlift today, making it the first operational ski area in the nation for the second year in a row. This also marks the earliest A-Basin has opened in its 61 years of operation.

Skiers can expect 18 inches of snow on the intermediate High Noon run, and some parts of the High Divide terrain park also will be open, resort officials announced Tuesday.

Welcome my friends to 2007-08. It is now officially ski season. Before my birthday. Happy Birthday to me on the 11th.

Posted by Justin at 01:52 AM | Comments (3)

September 21, 2007

A-Basin Article from Rocky Mountain Post

This article about A-basin:

ARAPAHOE BASIN - This high-elevation ski area has never lacked for steep terrain with stunning views of the state's highest peaks. This winter, it's about to get a lot more of the same.

As A-Basin prepares to almost double in size this winter, ski area officials here hope the $3 million expansion will raise the area's profile among out-of-state visitors and address some of the crowding it has experienced as it becomes more popular among local residents.

"More and more people are discovering Arapahoe," said Alan Henceroth, chief operating officer of the 61-year-old ski area. "But if you go out of state, people don't really know about us."

With 400 acres of new trails on the backside of its summit, the area could prove an even stronger draw this season for Front Range residents. Its location on the western side of Loveland Pass makes it one of the closest ski areas to Denver.

Its perch along the Continental Divide allows it to stay open far longer than most ski areas, and its introduction of snowmaking a few years ago helps it with its annual race to open ahead of most rivals.

The eight-month season boosts its visitor count.

A-Basin attracted more than 360,000 visitors in 2006-2007, more than any of the other smaller, "gem" ski areas and almost as many as the 366,000 who went to the bigger Crested Butte.

I love A-basin. It was the first Colorado resort I ever skied at and I did it over Halloween weekend. How can you beat the white ribbon of death being open before my kids go panhandling for candy? One run. A gazillion skiing addicts. Cheap tickets. And skiing in October.

Lots to like about A-basin. A great place to ski. And Loveland and A-basin are the best ski values in Summit. Especially A-basin and the Colorado Pass.

Posted by Justin at 03:04 PM

March 30, 2007

Vail Resorts and the Colorado Pass

I have several other posts about the Colorado Pass, but now that it is nearing the end of the season, it is the best time to start thinking about and/or purchasing your season pass for next year. I want to cover the Colorado Pass again, as well as highlight what I think about the CO Pass, Vail Resorts, and the impact of the two on affordable skiing in general.

First, the Colorado Pass--last year the pass ran a little under $400 (even less if you bought early) and got you unlimited skiing at Breck, Keystone, and A-basin plus 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek. Compare that to roughly the same price (regular price) for a season pass at Brian Head that is for one resort as opposed to three plus two more with bonus days.

Second, Vail. Well, it is Vail. Ten days at $85 a day peak price is more than double the cost of the pass. Hell, even a week at Vail is more expensive than the pass.

I am on a ton of mailing lists, but VRI is has a new Colorado Pass Club that gets you all kinds of offers and discounts. It is important to be an informed consumer and look for deals. If you do that, VRI has about the best deals in the industry. Their lift tickets and prices aren't cheap, but when you use the CO Pass it makes skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breck, and so on actually LESS EXPENSIVE than at many of the smaller resorts around the country... and you are skiing at the finest resorts in the world for reasonable prices.

Utah has nothing that even comes close to the CO Pass. A season pass at Alta is several hundred dollars more than the CO Pass and just covers Alta, and so on. I am big on keeping skiing affordable and Vail Resorts is certainly doing their part.

Posted by Justin at 02:48 PM | Comments (4)

October 13, 2006

Ski Season Officially Opens Today at A-Basin

I just woke up and guess what:



Join us at 9:00am on Friday, October 13th for our 60th year in operation!

Intermediate skiing only - no beginner skiing yet

Lift Hours
Friday, October 13 9:00am-4:00pm
Saturday - Sunday 8:30am-4:00pm
Monday - Friday 9:00am-4:00pm
Exhibition Chairlift
Open Everyday

Alright, it is white ribbon of death time, but today Arapahoe Basin officially opened the lifts. It is not even the middle of October.

Posted by Justin at 07:21 AM

September 25, 2006

Huge Storm Across Colorado Dumps Over 2' on Vail

Do I really need to add much to the title? Breck, Keystone, and Vail all received between 18" and 2'+ of new snow this weekend and late last week.

Checking reports from A-basin and Loveland and all reported they had at least 8" as of Thursday with more expected through the weekend.

We are now counting the weeks instead of months until ski season opens. Pretty soon we will be talking days.

Posted by Justin at 05:25 PM | Comments (1)

September 19, 2006

Colorado Pass and New Banner Ads

I have posted some new ads on the site for Breck and Keystone. I am going to be heading up there to both of them this year and ads help me pay the bills. (Maybe even help me get a free pass or two from time to time.)

I am an A-basin and Loveland kind of guy most times I go to Summit, but that is simply because of price. $75 a lift ticket is a heck of a lot different from $40 a lift ticket at A-basin or Loveland. Well, it seems that there is an alternative for me that would allow me to ski A-basin, Keystone and Breckenridge as well as spend 10 free days at Vail and Beaver Creek for less than the price of a week of skiing at Keystone--The Colorado Pass:

  • Unlimited, unrestricted skiing and riding at Keystone, Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin
  • 10 days skiing and riding at Vail and Beaver Creek.
  • The Colorado Pass is restricted at Vail and Beaver Creek November 24-25, 2006; December 27-31, 2006; and February 17-18, 2007.
  • Heavenly 1/2 Price Tickets. Ski Heavenly in Lake Tahoe for 1/2 price! Restrictions apply. Details>>
  • One-Year Subscription to SKIING Magazine included with your Colorado Pass purchase.
  • Savings for your Friends and Family. Colorado Pass holders will receive six coupons so your friends and family can ski at a discounted rate. Check back soon for updated pricing.
  • Breckenridge Unlimited Ski & Ride School Lesson Pass for only $159.
  • Resort Charge convenience. Link your credit card to your Colorado Pass to charge on-mountain dining, ski and snowboard lessons and more.

    How much does the whole thing cost? $399 for an adult, $299 for a teen, and $189 for a child if you buy before October 15th.

    I posted about the Big Sky Frequency Card, which is also a sickeningly good deal, but the Colorado Pass is a must have. Downside is you have to purchase in person at one of their listed locations. If you were to simply spend 5 days over the entire winter at Vail or Beaver Creek, and bought the pass, you could spend the entire rest of the winter at Breck, Keystone, and A-basin for free. (Math majors will note that $75 per day at Vail x 5 days = $375)

    In the interest of disclosure, I am running ads for Breck and Keystone as well as for the Colorado Pass. Here is my deal--I won't run ads for stuff or do reviews of things that aren't completely honest. If I say it is a good deal, it is or I would not say it. I have three kids and am always looking for deals on gear, lodging, skiing, etc. This is an insanely good deal. Whether they advertise here or not.

    I ski on the cheap and this is most certainly the best deal I have seen. My season pass at Brian Head runs $288 at spring renewal prices for students, $328 for everyone else. By this time of year, that jumps to almost $400 to ski for the year at one single resort. And Brian Head's pass does not include 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek. Nor does it include three other resorts (Breck, A-basin, and Keystone) for the entire year. If you know for certain you are going to Colorado (or to Heavenly) and know that you will ski at least 5 days this winter, this is a MUST HAVE. Plain and Simple.

    Posted by Justin at 09:47 PM

    July 29, 2006

    Upgrading A-Basin

    Arapahoe Basin is the first Colorado Resort I ever skied at. Five or so years ago, Jeremy and I took a trip to Colorado right at the start of ski season to get our boots under us and A-basin and Loveland were the only places in Summit that were open. While it was still "white ribbon of death" time and while the slopes were crowded with all the season pass holders, it was still a great experience. Low ticket prices. Laid back crowd. Unpretentious. Not like Breck and Keystone just down the road. Just a mellow family atmosphere.

    Well, the Summit Daily News reports some upgrades are proposed for A-basin and a new EIS is posted. From Summit Daily:

    SUMMIT COUNTY - Arapahoe Basin this week moved another step closer to realizing plans for lift-served skiing in Montezuma Bowl with release of a draft Forest Service environmental study for the proposal. ... As spelled out in the draft study, the upgrades would increase A-Basin's comfortable carrying capacity by 22 percent, from 3,210 skiers to 3,910 skiers. The changes would also boots the area's uphill lift capacity substantially, from 7,600 to 11,400 people per hour.

    Ski area officials previously said they would consider construction of the lift in 2007 pending final approval.

    Montezuma Bowl would add about 175 acres of intermediate terrain and 150 acres of advanced and expert terrain, boosting A-Basin's overall lift-served acreage from 490 to 837 acres. Grooming is proposed for about 37 acres of terrain in the bowl, along with a 3,000-foot groomed path along the west ridge of the bowl.
    The proposed action, combined with previously approved projects, also includes parking upgrades to increase capacity by 23 percent, to 1,781 vehicles. That includes 146 spaces in the Lower Overflow lot and 95 spots in the High Noon lot.

    The full EIS is located here. EIS reports are always a good read because they contain figures about areas that often are not published, like skier visit numbers.

    • 2002-03 317,000
    • 2003-04 275,000
    • 2004-05 328,000

    More info on the numbers is located in the pdf. Needless to say that the 11 year average is approximately 250,000 skier days, which means that the last three years are running at almost 130% of the historical average. And you can tell. Consider that A-basin has approximately 500 acres of lift served terrain and had as many skier visits as Big Sky with a combined acreage of almost 5,000 acres when combined with Moonlight Basin, and A-basin only has a 7,400 person per hour uphill lift capacity. The improvements are needed.

    As I said, the EIS's tell a lot about a resort. Take the time to read it.

    Posted by Justin at 01:42 PM | Comments (2)

    November 13, 2005

    Summit gets slammed

    Got a note from JP at Colorado Backcountry about the epic conditions in Colorado right now. Most of the resorts (Copper, Loveland, A-Basin, Keystone, Breck, etc.) have received approximately 18" in the last two days with more tonight and early tomorrow.

    From JP:

    We are getting hammered with snow out here. Just had another sick backcountry day at Loveland Pass. knee deep all day. 5-8 expected today and 10-12" expect monday and monday night. can't wait for tuesday.

    I am heading to my condo at Brian Head on Tuesday. Opening weekend was supposed to be November 12th. Yeah right. Maybe for mountain biking. Skiing requires snow. In other news, Wolf Creek opened yesterday. Very little in the way of snow, and they are reporting a base of around 14" at the summit. Speaking of mountain biking.

    Posted by Justin at 08:03 PM | Comments (1)

    October 25, 2005

    A Basin opened Sunday

    Arapahoe Basin opened Sunday with one lift and one run open. Loveland is still open with similar conditions--roughly an 18" base of man made groomed snow.

    Weekends tend to get crowded at A Basin during the early season since there is only one run open and a lot of folks from Colorado have the A Basin Bonus Pass that they sell for $229 and includes 5 days at Keystone or Breckenridge and one day at Vail or Beaver Creek. Doesn't it cost something like $229 for a day at Vail alone now? Not quite, but Keystone and Breck both run from the high $50's to $75 per day and Vail and Beaver Creek are both around the same. Add up 6 days of skiing at $75 a day and you could buy two A Basin passes... oh yeah, and you get to ski A Basin all season for free too. If you know you will use it, get a Bonus Pass.

    Obviously this is a smokin' deal, but what happens is almost everyone that can buys this pass and so during the early season when A Basin is open before everyone else, all the folks with the pass head up to take their first turns on the one run that is open. It is bad on weekdays, but almost unbearable on weekends. But if you cannot wait to get your first taste of man made snow and don't mind a rock or two gouging your freshly waxed base, good times! The last two years I have hit A Basin and Loveland the first week of November and have the P-Tex bills to show for it. Six months is too long to go without skiing.

    Posted by Justin at 11:45 AM | Comments (1)