Above: Overlook of Arapahoe Basin on the morning of opening day. Photo courtesy of Dave Camara.
Arapahoe Basin kicked off the 2016-2017 season with slopes filled to the maximum with skiers, snowboarders, onesies, and groovy music. The ski resort opened on Oct. 21 and was officially the first ski resort to open in Colorado. Some may ask, why bother going to opening day? The snow is low quality, there are long lines, and limited runs are open. True, opening day is not necessarily an opportunity for great skiing, but rather a chance for the local ski community to come together and celebrate the beginning of what is, hopefully, going to be a fantastic, powder-filled season. Opening day fosters a friendly, welcoming environment, often encouraged by the presence of booze. Those who are new to the ski community or wish to be more involved often experience opening day and fall more in love with the sport despite the lower quality snow and long lines.
On opening day Arapahoe Basin had one run open from the Black Mountain Express lift. There were no beginner runs open—only the intermediate High Noon trail was available to skiers and snowboarders. Everyone was lined up for the lift before the sun rose to catch the first chair of the year. If you have ever had first chair of the day, imagine how it feels to have first chair of the season: knowing you are the first person to be on the mountain during the official opening day is a memory worth hanging on to.
To add to the festivities, attendees of opening day dressed up for the occasion. The skiers’ and snowboarders’ outfits ranged from those decked out in flair to the latest official season gear. Last year, Arapahoe Basin stayed open until mid-June, so opening day was a great opportunity to get back on the mountain for the first time in 131 days and meet some new people while doing it. Commemorative outfits simply mirrored this excitement to be back at A-Basin.
Arapahoe Basin will continue to use snow-machines to get a deeper base—as of right now it is 18 inches—in order to open new runs. The opening day was filled not only with stoked skiers and snowboarders but also beginners. With these beginners and the previously mentioned booze dimension, everyone had to be careful on the crowded slope. Nevertheless, the congestion on the mountain could not deter even the newest of skiers from skiing.
With the Freeriders Union of Colorado College promoting Epic Pass purchases, playing ski movies, and building up ski and snowboard stoke, CC students surely will also be hitting the slopes soon. Though the traditional third Block Break, “Breck Break,” is oddly merged with Thanksgiving Break, the desire to get outdoors and experience fresh powder cannot be underestimated. After all, no matter the number of runs open or the sheer number of skiers and snowboarders present, there is always fun to be had at Arapahoe Basin and surrounding resorts in Summit County.