A-BASIN: New lift in Montezuma Bowl

Date: Oct. 17th, 2007

A-BASIN: New lift in Montezuma Bowl
"Powder.Com The Skiers Magazine"
By Whitney Taylor

Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort in Colorado, a popular resort for the locals seeking shorter lift lines, and a more rustic feel, will have some mixed feelings for the 2007/08 season.   A-Basin decided to expand its terrain by 80 percent by building a lift for access to the Montezuma Bowl, located on the backside of the mountain.

The Zuma lift, a fixed-grip quad, will add 400 acres and 36 new runs of intermediate and advanced terrain to the resort. The lift will be 4,100 feet in length and will rise 1,100 feet in nine minutes. The lift will be completed by October 2007, the $3 million expansion will open in December.

According to a recent press release, the skier and rider will discover cornices, chutes, glades and wide-open bowls in the new Montezuma Bowl.  However, many locals are apprehensive about the expansion. Some feel it is taking away from the easy access backcountry and others believe A-Basin is trying to make itself a big time resort, but, Leigh Hierholzer, Arapahoe Basin’s communication and PR representative, states otherwise.
“We are definitely not trying to create a big resort feel,” says Hierholzer. “In fact, we are trying really hard to keep our small resort feel and our existing culture. The mid-way mountain is beautiful, something we needed due to volume, and blends well into the environment.”

To accommodate both intermediate and advanced skiers and riders, A-Basin will groom part of the new bowl for easy cruising, but will keep the back terrain open for a more backcountry experience.

Local Jonathan Caldwell disagrees with the Basin management. “A-Basin is definitely trying to keep up with the Jones’.”  The big problem for locals isn’t that the mountain is expanding—what diehard powder junkie doesn’t want 80 percent more runs? But their concerns with expansion lie in the new, easier access will make Montezuma Bowl tracked out and closed more often in gnarly weather.

“My biggest problem with all of this is the days we knew we were safe and we would go to the mellow part of the bowl still to get good turns in, those are the days it will be closed, ‘cause some patroller doesn't think its safe for the public,” asserts Caldwell.

Either way, Arapahoe Basin will be expanding and inviting more skiers to check out what this local resort has to offer. Although lines are notoriously long in the beginning of the season due to standard early openings, skiers shouldn’t expect a dramatic increase once the new expansion is open, which is good news for the locals wanting to keep A-Basin all for themselves.

“We do expect to have an increase in skiers. I can't tell you exactly how many, but I wouldn't say it would be drastic,” says Hierholzer.