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Intermediate Skiers Beware

Arapahoe Basin’s New Terrain Has A Lift … But It’s Steep

Story and photos by Reid Neureiter, Special to the GPHN

Darcy Neureiter takes on a steep slope at Arapahoe Basin’s Montezuma Bowl on Jan 5.

Last season, Arapahoe Basin ski area opened 468 total acres of expert hike-to terrain on its northwest-facing slopes. 

This 2018-19 ski season, a four-person ski lift makes 339 acres of the new area, called “The Beavers,” accessible to the resort skiers not equipped for a hike back to the ski area base. The total expansion increases A-Basin’s terrain by almost 30 percent. 

Together, The Beavers and “The Steep Gullies” – an expert-focused area that still requires a hike – consists of 34 new runs for what the ski area calls ability levels “from intermediate through expert.” But intermediate skiers beware. This is steep and difficult skiing. Even the intermediate runs, designated by a blue square, have a sign at the top warning that these pistes represent the most challenging intermediate-designated runs at Arapahoe Basin. As they say, anywhere else it would have been a black diamond.

The Beavers area consists of open bowls at the top, transitioning to steep, gladed runs, along with the two intermediate groomed trails. The Park Hill mother and daughter team of Nora and Darcy Neureiter of Leyden Street explored The Beavers tree runs for the first time on Jan. 5. (Full disclosure: Nora is the author and photographer’s wife, and Darcy is his daughter.) 

Park Hill resident Nora Neureiter explores the newly-opened gladed terrain of the Beavers area at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.

The excellent snow and steep, challenging, gladed terrain made for an exhilarating outing. Nora Neureiter described her first experience with The Beavers as “thrilling and unique.” Because of its north-facing aspect, this new terrain is likely to retain its snow for longer and in better condition than the ski area’s south-facing and more open Montezuma Bowl. There is an added benefit to this new terrain as well. Because of the difficult nature of the runs, the chairlift out of The Beavers which tops out at 12,472 feet above sea level, is likely to remain uncrowded, even on the busiest ski weekends. The Neureiter women were able to ski directly onto The Beavers lift even on a busy Saturday during the winter school break. 

According to the Ski Area’s website, the 129 acres of hike-out terrain of The Steep Gullies, constitute “the most challenging skiing at Arapahoe Basin. These steep, narrow chutes vary in pitch and width, and will be rated as ‘extreme’ (double-black diamond).” The run-out at the bottom of the Steep Gullies is not served by any lift, meaning all skiers using that terrain will be required to hike or ski back to the bottom of the historic two-person Pallavicini Lift at A-Basin’s base area. The hike takes between 20 and 30 minutes—a physical challenge for even the fittest skier.

A-Basin’s expansion has made national news in the ski press, getting a 10-page feature review in the January/February issue of Ski Magazine. That article described the Beavers as “perfect treeless bowls that serve up fresh pow on a wide, glittering apron” and the author called the newly-opened slopes, “the best Colorado terrain I have skied in recent memory.” 

Arapahoe Basin is 72 miles from Park Hill, just west of Loveland Pass on US Highway 6. The ski area is advertising a three-day lift pass deal for $189, or a single day ticket for a $105 – a relative bargain compared to Vail’s walk-up price of $209 per lift ticket. 

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