Montezuma Bowl " steep, snowy |

Montezuma Bowl " steep, snowy

Steve Lynn
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Skiers battle high winds as they hike to the Zuma Cornice " the expert terrain in Montezuma Bowl " at Arapahoe Basin.
Vail Daily File

ARAPAHOE BASIN, Colo. ” Pat Kirkby hiked from the bottom of Montezuma Bowl at Arapahoe Basin with a grin.

Kirkby had been snowboarding in-bounds in the trees below the bottom of the chairlift before he hiked a couple of hundred yards back to where people were waiting in the lift line.

“There’s so much snow,” Kirkby said.

Located on the back side of Arapahoe Basin, the 400-acre Montezuma Bowl, newly served with a chairlift, almost doubles the size of the ski area. The bowl has long been a popular backcountry area; the resort installed a lift in the bowl in October.

The most challenging terrain is a number of chutes under a long cornice, located at skier’s right from the top of the bowl’s only chair, the Zuma Lift. Some cliffs and steep slopes await skiers and snowboarders after a short hike along a ridge.

Some of those double-blacks were closed Saturday afternoon.

After one or two more good snowstorms, all off Montezuma Bowl should be open, said Alan Henceroth, vice president and chief operating officer at A-Basin.

Joe Ferruggia had taken just one run in Montezuma Bowl on Saturday afternoon. He planned to take many more, he said.

“When it gets more snow, it’s going to be awesome,” he said.

Some small rocks jutted out of the snow on some slopes, and a sign at the top of the lift warned of “early season conditions.”

But Jenni Shearston, of Denver, found some powder on Saturday.

“I like the steepness,” she said.

Keir Fogarty reported good snow in the trees in the lower part of the bowl.

“It’s nice to have more trees,” said Fogarty, of Fort Collins. “It’s a different feel to the mountain.”

The bowl also boasts 50 acres of backcountry skiing below the lift ” nearly all of which is trees ” that skiers and snowboarders must hike out of to get back to the Zuma Lift.

“We know people will really enjoy it,” Henceroth said.

That terrain was closed on Saturday but should be open soon, Henceroth said. Many people were skiing into and hiking out of the area anyway.

In addition to steep double-blacks and tree runs, Montezuma Bowl has several steep blue and black-diamond runs.

“I really appreciate blues and blacks that challenge me,” Fogarty said. “I don’t need to do anything that’s too much harder than that, so this is right up my alley.”

Skiers and boarders had to wait in a packed lift line Saturday afternoon at Exhibition Lift at the base of the front side of Arapahoe Basin.

But, people quickly moved through the lift line to get onto Montezuma Bowl’s only chairlift. The quad is 4,100 feet long and rises 1,100 vertical feet. It takes nine minutes to get to the top, and the lift has a capacity of 1,900 skiers per hour.

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