At Arapahoe Basin, the quickest way to the steeps has always been to hop the Pallavicini chair. The tradition will continue ... but with modern seating next season.
Management at the Colorado mountain announced recently that the venerable lift -- installed in 1978 -- will get an upgrade in quality but not in quantity. It'll still be a fixed-grip double chair with the same capacity: 1,200 per hour. And it will spin up the same line -- with 1,300 vertical -- as it has for more than 40 years, serving only expert and advanced terrain.
"While there is a heck of an argument to build a much bigger lift here, there is also an argument to replace Pali with the same type of lift," said CEO Al Henceroth. "The Pali Lift and terrain work so well, we didn't want to mess with that little chunk of paradise."
Once removed, about 100 chairs from the old Pallavicini lift will be sold in a lottery this offseason. Four chairs will be set aside for a fund-raising effort this spring to aid various non-profits in Summit County and a couple of A-Basin employees going through medical treatments.
"The new lift will be just as good and the spirit and culture and vibe of Pali will be as strong as ever," Henceroth said.
The modernization of Pallavicini is another step at "The Basin" to open up more terrain while maintaining its local, old-school flavor. A decade ago, the resort opened up its backside, Montezuma Bowl, with a fixed-grip quad to serve it. The lower chair became high-speed.
A couple of years ago, U.S. Forest Service approved more than 400 acres of new terrain to the west of Pallavicini lift, called The Beavers and Steep Gullies. For a couple of seasons, the area was hike-in hike-out only. Now, a fixed-grip quad runs in that area.
In the midst of that, ownership decided to back out of a partnership with Vail Resort's Epic Pass -- the first resort to do so -- because of dramatically increased crowds at Continental Divide ski and snowboard area.
Instead, A-Basin hooked up with Alterra Mountain Co. and its Ikon Pass as a partner: seven days free for Ikon Pass holders.