Arapahoe Basin Ski Area to open Wednesday, other county variance requests denied
ARAPAHOE BASIN SKI AREA — Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s request for a partial reopening has been approved and will be effective on Wednesday. This was the only variance request from Summit County that was approved by the state. The requests to reopen short-term rentals and dine-in services at local restaurants were denied.
The variance for A-basin to reopen allows the ski area to host a maximum of 600 skiers per day. Summit County Public Health may adjust this number if physical distancing requirements are unable to be met in any locations within the ski area, including parking lots and base areas. Skiers must register through an online reservation system and reservations will be able to be made at 7 p.m. 36 hours in advance of the intended ski day, with reservations opening at 7 p.m. Monday, May 25.
Those with reservations for a certain day must bring a printed confirmation and valid ID. Guests will be asked to show reservation confirmation before entering the parking lot.
An operations plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 was submitted with the ski area’s application for a variance, which includes precautions and procedures surrounding reservations, lines, base area services, physical distancing enforcement, sanitation and employee training, PPE and symptom screening.
“There are a lot of people that are very excited to get back on the hill and back to do some skiing,” A-Basin COO Alan Henceroth said. “This is going to be a very different setup and will take all of us awhile to get used to it.”
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Henceroth said that the ski area will open with three lifts and will sell a limited number of day lift tickets — 30 per day — as the opening is mainly for pass holders of A-basin season and Any Day passes, Ikon passes and Mountain Collective passes. The mountain will be open everyday from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Reservations to ski or snowboard at A-Basin will be strictly required and those who do not have a reservation are urged not to show up, according to Henceroth’s blog.
“People are going to come, we’re going to keep them spread out, we’ve redesigned our lift mazes and scanning and that whole system to keep people spread out further,” Henceroth said. “We’re not going to allow tailgating and gathering and partying. That’s not what this is about, that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid. We have next season to party, we don’t have to do that now. We’re really focused on getting people skiing and riding and having a good time.”
Henceroth said that physical distancing will be enforced and that guests must wear facial coverings in designated areas, including in the restrooms, in the base area, in the lift line and through the scanning process. The lanes of the lift lines will be spread out and people will only have to be scanned once. Henceroth said the ski area will look different in that the only two things that will be open will be chairlifts and bathrooms, although he hopes the ski area can eventually phase in some food services and retail operations.
The three lifts that will open on Wednesday will be Black Mountain Express Lift, Lenawee Mountain Lift and Pallavicini Lift, which are all on the front side of the mountain. Uphill access will also open for uphill passholders on Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. Henceroth said the ski area plans to stay open for as long as they can, hopefully well into June.
“This is an incredible opportunity we have and we’re all going to have to act responsibly to make this work,” Henceroth said. “And, everyone’s going to have to pitch in and keep their distance from each other, keep their face masks on where appropriate. Don’t show up if you don’t have a reservation and we could have a really good time, but we’re going to have to follow these rules to make it work.”
The ski area also urges people on their website to stay home if sick or high risk and notes that “this is not an experience suitable for beginners.” It is recommended that only experienced skiers and snowboarders come to the ski area at this time.
According to a news release, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s denial of Summit County’s request to reopen short-term rentals and dine-in services was cited with concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus in the county based on case data. The county appealed the decision after receiving unofficial notice on Saturday, but CDPHE leadership notified Summit County officials on Sunday that it would not change its decision regarding the denials.
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