Last weekend I finally got to ski Arapahoe Basin, or A-Basin as it’s more commonly referred to here, with my friend Theresa LaLong and her sister Marianne. First of all, I would have been content with just the drive there. It was beautiful – the iconic snow mountain drive where each curve brings on another vista. It also was a bit scary as I wasn’t real steady with the road conditions and was trying to keep up with Theresa (we both drove, I followed her), who is used to the mountain driving. I don’t love driving on mountain roads when I’m on the “cliff side” and tend to hug the center line, but traffic was very light so dipping into the other lane as my fear rose didn’t seem to be an issue.
A-Basin has that old ski mountain feel to it, probably because it is. It was developed in the 1940’s by Max and Edna Dercum, who are honored with several framed photographs in the day lodge. Unlike any of the other mountains I’ve skied in Summit and Eagle County, CO, A-Basin does not have any overnight accommodations available to it’s skiers, so it is truly a ski mountain and not a resort. It didn’t feel “commercial” and I liked that. Very much. It felt old school, family oriented, charming and void of the glamour that seems to go with skiing. It also has the highest inbound ski terrain in North America, measuring in at 13,050 vertical feet. Because of the altitude and the mostly north/northeast face, it’s open longer than most of the resorts in CO, often staying open into July. My ski instructor, Tiger, told me the other day that there have been years that the mountain was skied all months but one… August. How cool is that? Skiing in July?
The snow came down hard most of the afternoon and given that I was still nursing a minor knee injury from the week before, I didn’t push myself. Visibility was limited but oh so beautiful, at least what I could see was…. Theresa kept telling me that the views were amazing from the top of the lift, but the mountains in the snow were barely visible that day. Given it’s location at just below the Loveland Pass, with views of the Continental Divide, neither visible through the near white-out conditions, I simply had to trust her on that one.
Theresa met up with one of her friends who she lived with when she first came to Summit County in the 70’s. I’m fascinated with the stories and the adventure in her spirit to be able to move to this part of the country, knowing only a handful of people. She told me that shortly after her arrival, and once comfortable with the ski culture, she bought a one piece ski outfit, white with calico trim, as she felt she had graduated from the scotch guarded jeans. I know she told me a lot of other stuff, but the “white with calico trim” was all I heard. Sorry Theresa, but this was just too good to not share. I only wish I had a photo….
It was a fun day and with all the stories and Theresa reconnecting with her friend, who works at A-Basin, it truly did feel like we had stepped back in time for the day… back far enough that a white one-piece ski outfit, trimmed in calico, would have fit right in. OK, maybe not totally, but easier at A-Basin than some of the other CO ski resorts. Besides the jaw-dropping beauty, the snow and a day spent in good company, the “trimmed in calico” remains one of my favorite memories from our day at A-Basin.
|Coffee with a view…|