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Melting Snow, Not Covid, Forces A-Basin To Shut For Season

ABasin-Last-Day Lack of snow, not Covid-19, forced Arapahoe Basin to close for the season after reopening for 12 days. (Arapahoe Basin/Facebook)

Arapahoe Basin's nod to its season passholders and stalwart loyalists ended Sunday (June 7) after a two-week run -- due to lack of snow but not lack of interest.

The only Rocky Mountain resort to reopen after coronavirus forced closures in March, A-Basin re-started three lifts on May 27. The number of skiers and snowboarders was limited to 600 -- far below an average daily count at the Colorado resort -- and all had to make reservations online before showing up.

But with a rapidly diminishing base -- depth went from 20 open runs to seven in 12 days -- CEO Alan Henceroth announced Sunday (June 7) that very season, no matter how hard we try and stop it, the snow still melts. We think Sunday is a good day to close out the season. The snow is almost gone.”

Mountain officials said the reopening was, in part, a thank-you to season passholders who had their season cut short by a couple of months. It also was a chance to give its employees a dozen or so more days' pay, plus to relieve some of the anxiety and stress from stay-at-home orders in Colorado.

Three chairlifts were running, but the resort took precautions to reduce any chance of Covid-19 contacts, including:

  • Liftlines with six-foot spacing designations;

  • Only one passenger per chair unless two from the same household rode together;

  • Slower lift speeds so that liftees didn't have to touch chair during loading; and,

  • Reduced scanning of tickets.

Many saw the reopening of A-Basin at the end of this truncated season as an experiment in what it might be like for next season, assuming the COVID virus is still at epidemic proportions.

Coincidentally, this weird season was also the last one for the 42-year-old Pallavicini double chair that has delivered skiers and riders to the steepest terrain on the mountain since 1978. The venerable lift 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.

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