Arapahoe Basin Is Our New Kirkwood

Vail is great but Arapahoe Basin is awesome.

Looking out to Blue Sky Basin at Vail

Catching up again, and this post will cover our skiing Vail yesterday and Arapahoe Basin today. Had some good snow at Vail, but we had some great powder snow today at A-Basin.  Full data below – but first we need to wrap up our definitions of the terms we are using to rate these resorts – so on to the Foo-foo scale defined.

Foo-foo is something that Bro and I do not like. It is a trend that is taking over too many resorts and we hate it.  We far prefer the old school resorts with down home atmosphere. Foo-foo is most grandiosely exemplified by a resort that forces you to park far away from the lift and then walk through their gaudy, expensive village to get to the lifts.  They have gabillion dollar mansions or condos lining the slopes, or dominating the space near the lifts. You have to remove your leg to get a beer at the bar in the lodge and mortgage your house to buy a quinoa laced grass-fed beef hamburger.  All Foo-foo – and a resort that has all these is a 10 on the Foo-foo scale. Examples of resorts that rank high on the Foo-foo scale are Northstar, Vail, and Steamboat.

Vail is huge, but Arapahoe Basin has more Gnar.

Steve and Joe atop a bowl at Vail.

Whew – that’s out of the way so onto the reporting. We skied Vail yesterday with an ole army buddy of Steve’s named Joe.  Joe had skied the resort before and showed us how to get to the last bowl that we had not yet skied – the Blue Sky Basin. We skied a few runs in Tea Cup Bowl and in China Bowl and then headed to Blue Sky Basin. We did not find any new snow, but we did find some good snow to ski and we cut it up.  Had a great lunch and a beer or two at the Two Elks Lodge and skied a few more runs – then called it a day.  Humped our behinds through the village to the car and headed home.  Vail has already been scored in an earlier post – so I won’t do it again here.


Arapahoe Basin Scores High On The Gnar Scale

Old school Arapahoe Basin is a great place.

The lodge at the bottom of Arapahoe Basin.

Today we skied Arapahoe Basin and we had a great time. This is a small resort with only 6 lifts and it’s very old school. You park right next to the lift and the lodge.  The lodges are great.  The beer is great with 20 different varieties on tap.  The terrain is awesome, with great bowls and fantastic steeps in several bowls – all easily accessed. The Gnar score of this place is higher then any other resort we have been to yet. The food is great and cheap.  If we lived in this area, this would be our resort of choice – thus the title of this post. Kirkwood is our favorite resort back home – so this would be our “Kirkwood”  if we lived here.

There was about 5-6 inches of new snow and it was light and fun to ski. It snowed the entire time we were there and the clouds were down on the slopes making visibility a challenge, but we were up for it.

We first headed up the Pallavicini lift and jumped right onto the face there.  Great steep run, but it needed more snow on the slopes as we hit a few concealed rocks.

A-Basin is the highest elevaton ski resort in America.

Steve at the Snow Plume Refuge atop A-Basin.

We got out of there and headed to the Black Mountain Express lift.  We found some good powder on the intermediate runs there, and we cut it up.

Next we headed up the Lenawee lift to the top.  There was some nice uncut poo under the lift and in a few bowls that ran on each side of the lift. Gleefully we blasted through it and had a great time. Feeling the call of nature we stopped at the Snow Plume refuge at the top.  Once relieved I had to take a picture of the sign showing that the elevation was 12,456 feet.  We were certainly huffing and puffing anytime we had to exert ourselves at that altitude.

After a few runs we headed into the Black mountain lodge which is mid-mountain for some coffee to warm up and rejuvenate. Once fully fortified we headed back out and went to the backside – the Montezuma Bowl.

Arapahoe Basin has lots of great stuff to ski.

Bro showing his stuff in Elk Meadows.

What an awesome bowl.  We hooked up with a free resort tour guide there and he showed us a few powder stashes. When the tour was over, we found a few other great places to ski by ourselves and we were really impressed with the available runs in this place. We traversed the bowl and skied a run called Elk Meadows, which was wide open and uncut.

Having worked up an appetite by this time we headed back to the front side to get some lunch at the main lodge. We were cruising down the powder, about to drop off a ledge into a bowl when Steve took a sharp right.  I was right behind him, not anticipating his turn and made a sharp right to avoid him.  I failed and crashed right into him, knocking him headfirst off the ledge.  He landed hard, whacking his head and wrenching his back.  Shit!!!  He’s tough, so will be fine – but I will probably never hear the end of how I ran into him. (No big deal – that’s how he is. I’m used to it)

Araphoe Basin has a high degree of Gnar.

Part of the East Wall at A-Basin

We made it to the lodge and had some fantastic beer and pizza. I went out and did a few more runs, trying out Steve’s Nordica skis for the first time, while he recovered in the lodge. We had skied the whole place, so we were done.

Ranking this resort is easy.  The Hoback scale for the day was a 2 – as there was ice and crud under some of the new snow on a few runs. Made it a bit of a challenge at times.  The Foo-foo scale is a 1 – if that.  Very little Foo-foo – just old school charm and skier friendly atmosphere. The Gnar scale is an 8 or 9 – as the steep runs, awesome Montezuma bowl chutes and available East bowl face make this a gnarly place. Nice!

There you have it.  Our last few days of skiing – and now on to Aspen, Crested Butte and beyond.  Here are a few more pictures for you to enjoy.

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