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Anatomy: Arapahoe Basin's East Wall

Arapahoe Basin's East Wall finally opened last week and the mountain is skiing better than it has all season. Here's a look at some of our favorite lines on the East Wall—arguably the best in-bounds terrain Summit County, Colorado has to offer.

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The East Wall at Arapahoe Basin looms above the resort like a big-city skyline. It's stacked with 500-600 foot, 30-40 degree hike-to chutes that fan…

The East Wall at Arapahoe Basin looms above the resort like a big-city skyline. It’s stacked with 500-600 foot, 30-40 degree hike-to chutes that fan out onto wide-open aprons. The East Wall opens late in the season, snow stability and coverage permitting, and in lean years it might not open at all. But when it does it’s the best in-bounds terrain that Summit County has to offer. There are as many lines off the East Wall as your creativity can handle. Below are four of our favorite.

1. 1st Notch
Make the 10-15 minute boot-pack from the North Pole Gate at the top of the Lenawee Mountain Lift. Once you crest the first summit, strap your boards on and descend the ridge heading east. Look to your left for the 1st Notch sign and drop there. It’s an aesthetic straight shot that chokes out mid-way to 20 feet at it’s narrowest.

2. North Pole
Pass 1st Notch and ski east as far out the ridge as you can passing every entrance you see. Bootpack 5 minutes again to the orange patrol toboggan and drop there. The North Pole is probably the easiest line you’ll find among the lines accessed from the North Pole Gate.

3. Willie’s Wide
Head halfway out the East Wall Traverse to the Willie’s Wide Staircase gate. The staircase is a steep 800-step bootpack straight up. Not many people make this bootpack so snow quality is usually pretty good on this wide-open apron.

4. Snorkel
From the top of Willie’s Wide Staircase hop over the ridge skier’s right of Willie’s to access Snorkel. It’s the first prominent chute that you can drop into. Cresting the ridge that separates Willie’s from Snorkel is the trickiest part. From there is a nice wide couloir where you can ski fall line all the way to the bottom of the Lenawee Mountain Chair.

Scroll through the following slides to see some of the terrain on the Upper East Wall >>

The North Pole Gate is a couple hundred yards skiers right off of the top of the Lenawee Mountain Chair. It's at least 10-15 minutes to the top.

The North Pole Gate is a couple hundred yards skiers right off of the top of the Lenawee Mountain Chair. It’s at least 10-15 minutes to the top.

The view from the top of the East Wall is stunning. The resort and Loveland Pass lie below.

The view from the top of the East Wall is stunning. The resort and Loveland Pass lie below.

Emily Templin Lesh well into the North Pole. The ridge access is from the right in this photo.

Emily Templin Lesh well into the North Pole. The ridge access is from the right in this photo.

It's about 500 steps straight up to the rock platform. This is where most people drop. Head up another 300 steps for a longer shot or to access…

It’s about 500 steps straight up to the rock platform. This is where most people drop. Head up another 300 steps for a longer shot or to access Snorkel to hiker’s left.

Emily Templin Lesh not really needing a snorkel on this day. Still great skiing regardless. The Lenawee Mountain lift and the rest of the resort are…

Emily Templin Lesh not really needing a snorkel on this day. Still great skiing regardless. The Lenawee Mountain lift and the rest of the resort are below.