By the time I rounded the hairpins of Loveland Pass to arrive at Arapahoe Basin signs were placed on the roadway warning visitors that the lower “Early Riser” lot was already full. At 8 in the morning, it was rare to see the lot full even on the busiest days, but it wasn’t a normal day, it was opening day. By the time I reached the base area the excitement was palpable, staff were handing out doughnuts as news crews documented the proceedings. The lift line was buzzing with conversation before erupting into cheers with the loading of the first chair at 8:24.
An October 17th opening is much more in line with the A-Basin of the past after a poor snow year pushed the 2020-2021 opening to November 9th. Opening day terrain included the intermate High Noon run serviced by the Black Mountain Express, the miniature Banana Terrain Park offered two rails for park rats to session right next to the run. The first few runs were a little icy, but as the sun began to poke over the East Wall the snow softened up leading to great carving conditions. With highs reaching into the 40s by the end of the day it began to feel a bit like spring conditions with a mogul field beginning to form on the lower mountain.
Looking around at the surrounding peaks filled with snow made it feel like winter had finally arrived. At the Basin, snowmaking crews had already moved the snowguns to the upper mountain which already had decent coverage from storms earlier in the week. Overall, opening day was a blast, the costumes, food, and friends helped to capture the legendary vibe A-Basin is known for. At the end of the day everyone I spoke to echoed the same phrase “it feels good to be back,” and I couldn’t agree more.