Dillon, CO – Arapahoe Basin’s nearly four-year-old plan to expand into the Beavers and Steep Gullies is one step closer to reality.
Last week, the White River National Forest published its Draft Envoironmental Impact Study (EIS) recommending approval of a 338-acre expansion west of the Colorado ski and snowboard resort’s current operational boundary that would increase its skiable terrain by nearly 50 percent. The expansion area, already part of A-Basin’s Special Use Permit, is already frequented by sidecountry skiers leaving the present resort boundary, six of whom have perished since 1982 in avalanches that have occurred in the yet-uncontrolled area. Most hike or hitchhike along U.S. Route 6 to return to the ski area.
“While the Steep Gullies would be double black terrain, the rest of The Beavers would be a mix of blue and black terrain,” Arapahoe Basin COO Alan Henceroth blogged in 2012.
Uphill transport in the Beavers/Steep Gullies would be provided by a proposed 4,200-foot fixed-grip triple of quad chairlift. Plans proposed by Arapahoe Basin also call for a new surface lift connecting the top terminals of the existing Zuma and Lenawee chairlifts to improve access to Montezuma Bowl, replacement of the resort’s aging Molly Hogan and Pallavacini chairlifts without any increase in the current uphill capacity of those two lifts, and removal of the Norway chairlift. A summer canopy tour and a challenge course have also been proposed.
If approved, the expansion into the Beavers and Steep Gullies would be Arapahoe Basin’s first terrain expansion since the 400-acre Montezuma Bowl was added to the trail map in 2007.
Officials with the White River National Forest are seeking comments on the 254-page Draft EIS through March 21. A public meeting regarding the Draft EIS will be held at The Keystone Center (1628 St John Rd. in Dillon) from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 2, where representatives from the White River National Forest will be present to answer questions and provide additional information on the project.