Lifts & Terrain

Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Open Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    10,520 – 13,050 (2,530)
  • Average Snow Fall
    350 inches
  • Lifts (9)
    1 high speed quad
    2 quads
  • Ski Season
    Mid Oct - early June
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 145
    1,428 acres
    Longest run – 1.5mi
    Beginner - 7%
    Intermediate - 20%
    Advanced - 49%
    Expert - 24%

Arapahoe Basin  Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Arapahoe Basin trail maps and stats need to be taken with a grain of salt. There are three major issues - the stated vertical, the East Wall, and Montezuma Bowl. The vertical of the resort is stated as 692 metres, when in reality about 175 of those metres (The Upper East Wall) are up a near vertical rocky summit that is skiable to about 0.00001% of the skiing public for about 2 days a year. The real vertical at Arapahoe Basin is closer to 515 metres, which is still better than the average ski hill.

The Lower East Wall appears to be a vast skiable area of the trail map, but is in fact a relatively short, none too steep (or interesting) area that only opens when the snow depth is over 60 inches. And finally the Montezuma Bowl. From the top, skiers’ left along the aptly named Mountain Goat Traverse appears to be effectively rock (rather than snow) for most of the season. Suffice to say it was noted that skiers here don’t mind skiing on rocks. We can do that back home – no need to go to Colorado for it!

The above gripes aside, Arapahoe Basin is all about the cornices. The wind howls up in the rarefied air of A Basin, creating some truly impressive (read intimidating) cornices. Three main lines of cornices exist in the Pallavicini, Norway and Montezuma areas, all of which have varying degrees of huckability.

Part of the legend of Arapahoe Basin, aside from the beer swilling in the car park, revolves around the skiing in the Pallavicini Bowl. A series of icy bumped up chutes, rocks, glades and a steep bowl coupled with the Pali Cornice will ensure you need a diaper and a complete ski base replacement at the end of a day’s skiing.

Surprisingly A basin has some great terrain for intermediates and beginners as well as the white knuckle, edge destroying expert terrain.

Arapahoe Basin Lifts

Arapahoe Basin has a series of 5 old style double and triple chairs that allow you to suck in the scenery on the way up. No high speed quads here, which is a good thing. The newest lift is a fixed grip quad chair servicing Montezuma Basin – the Zuma quad.

As much as it pains me to say it, the much heralded addition to Arapahoe Basin, the newish Zuma quad chair, is a dud. It promises so much and delivers so little. The area should have been left to the back/side-country skiers that were prepared to ski in and hike out when the snow was good. The terrain on skiers left of the lift is practically snowless for much of the season, and the terrain on skiers right is cool enough, but so short that the lift really only needs to be half as long as it actually is and aligned differently. Such a waste!

The star of the hill is the Pallavicini double. It accesses the majority of the advanced and expert terrain. The Exhibition triple is the main lift for all beginner and intermediate skiers.

Snow and Weather Conditions

Arapahoe Basin is high. Its lifted terrain tops out at a tick more than 3800 metres above sea level. As such, the top is very exposed to freezing winds. There is a refuge hut up there for a very good reason. Winds also mean cornices, which are a highlight of A Basin.

Whilst touting an average annual snowfall of 350 inches, A Basin hasn’t had the mega dumps it is renowned for in the last few years. Its height means the snow quality is better for longer. Because of its terrain, this is a resort that needs at least a 60 inch (150cm) base to really fire.

For the Beginner

Surprisingly, Arapahoe Basin is a great place to learn to ski. The Molly Hogan double and a magic carpet provide the real beginner area at the base of the mountain. The Exhibition Lift then provides lovely progression (Chisholm, Wrangler then Sundance runs) which will keep beginners amused for days. Most of the groomed intermediate runs off the Exhibition, Norway and Lenawee chairs would be able to be conquered by beginners with good balance.

Ski Arapahoe Basin for the Intermediate

Some great intermediate cruising can be had off the Lenawee and Norway lifts. Don’t bother going into the Montezuma area – you’ll just feel ripped off as you climb the hill near the bottom of the Larkspur run. Some good intermediate schooming is available where the terrain steepens a bit halfway along and under the Lenawee triple chair.

For the Family and Kids

All the terrain off the Exhibition, Lenawee and Norway lifts is suitable for families. It’s difficult to get lost, there aren’t any runs that will kill you and all roads eventually lead to the base lodge if all else fails. The top of the Lenawee and Norway lifts can get very cold so don’t waste too much time up there – meet further down the hill!

For the Shredder

A Basin prides itself on having the highest terrain parks in North America and also having them open for longer than any other resort, so knuckle draggers can break bones and get mindlessly concussed from late October through to the end of May every ski season. There are two terrain parks, the best of which is the Treeline Park. It is situated in front of the deck at the Black Mountain Lodge so you can comfortably sip hot chocolate and watch your mates getting pole-axed trying to get huge airs off some of the features.

Advanced Skiing A Basin

Skiers’ right in Montezuma Bowl, whilst marked for experts, is fine for most advanced skiers. The real challenge is jumping off the cornices. After that it’s quite cruisy. Otherwise some of the lines in the Pali area are suitable; Pali Face and Pali Main St to name but two. Lots of shortish but fun lines to skiers left and right of Grizzly Road are also good for advanced skiers.

For the Expert

Skiing nirvana is off the Pallavicini lift. More steeps, rocks, trees and chutes than you can poke a stick at, and plenty of time to recover on the nice slow double chair. Beware of some ski destroying rocks in this area.

For the Powderhound

On the powder day, head down Powder Keg or Grizzly Road off the Pallavicini chair and drop into some lovely short gladed runs called No Name, Radical, Challenger Scudder and Powder Keg. They are out of the wind, suck in the powder and the trees provide some vis.