On the Hill: A-Basin calls it a wrap
Summit County correspondent
ARAPAHOE BASIN – Colorado’s epic ski season is officially over.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, the last resort to remain open for skiing in the state, closed Sunday after a 227-day season, according to resort spokesperson Leigh Hierholzer.
A warm June sun shone on skiers and riders getting in the last few runs of the year, or barbecuing at A-Basin’s famed Beach, while a DJ blasted music in the background.
The main parking lot was full by the early afternoon, forcing late-arrivers to concede to parking in the overflow lot across Highway 6. Scoring a coveted spot on the prime slopeside strip known as The Beach was no easy task.
Kristin Marsh pulled herself out of bed at 3:15 a.m. in Colorado Springs to drive up to the mountains. But, she said the early morning wake-up call was well worth it as she relaxed in a campfire chair alongside two friends at The Beach.
“There’s no place quite like this to hang out on a Sunday at the end of June,” Marsh said.
Vail residents Marcel Gurbois and Darin Anderson, who were decked out in full tuxedos for the day, arrived at the mountain at about 10 a.m. and settled for a parking spot one row off The Beach.
“We were going to go on the last spot in The Beach, but there was lady down there bathing topless so obviously I wasn’t going to ask if I could park there,” Gurbois said.
The biggest attraction of the day wasn’t The Beach, but the pear-shaped pond below the Lenawee lift, which served as a water-skiing venue of sorts.
Fearless skiers and riders straight-lined their skis or snowboards down the Humbug or Lenawee Face trails and attempted to skid across the icy water.
Boulder’s Ben Rheacarver didn’t make it.
His entire body plunged into the pond when his telemark skis sank into the water just before he made it onto solid snow.
“I set my bindings up looser because I didn’t want my tips to go in when I telemarked, but I think they were a little too loose, because I think I had enough speed, so I don’t know,” a dripping wet Rheacarver said.
Not to worry though, the water wasn’t nearly as cold as it looked, he said.
A-Basin’s last day marked the closure of one of the most successful ski seasons on record.
The state’s skier numbers haven’t been released, but preliminary data from the National Ski Areas Association indicated that the six-state Rocky Mountain Region, which includes Colorado, saw a 5.8 percent increase in skier visits over last year.
Skier numbers in Colorado set new records during both the first and second periods, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.
“We had a really successful year with skier visits,” A-Basin’s Hierholzer said.
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