Two kinds of people ride A-Basin: people who love to ski and people who love to party. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but the party people have less tenacity. They show up when it gets warm, when the famous A-Basin Beach gets rowdy and the East Wall thaws. They bring kegs, hula hoops, and costumes. They get weird.
Photo: Liam Doran
Then there are the people who show up in October and never leave. If you spin enough laps on the Pali chair you’ll start to recognize them. Jody, who teles harder than any guy. Ian Borgeson and Drew Petersen, the future of the Freeskiing World Tour, who throw casual back flips off the rocks in the Timbers. The ski patroller you should always follow when he says, “Hey, come with me”—and who, if you’re lucky, will show you the diary he kept in the ’90s documenting every storm, every ski day.
Photo: Casey Day
The Basin isn’t always lovable. It won’t go easy on you. You’ll be cold and wind-whipped. You’ll get head rushes from the altitude. When it snows sideways you’ll get vertigo on the edge of the MGD cornice. You’ll look into the treeless depths of Montezuma Bowl, not knowing which way is down, not sure if you should drop in or give up and hike back along the ridge. It would be easy to give up, to become one of the people who ski groomers in banana costumes in the spring. But then you remember that the Basin rewards people who put in the effort. If you drive over Loveland Pass in a storm you’ll be treated to untouched snow hours after the other Summit County resorts are tracked. If you explore all the micro-lines in the Alleys you’ll find big drops, narrow chutes, and some of the steepest turns of your life. Its size belies its depth; you’ll always find new places to ski. Show up enough and you’ll always have people to ski with. It might not be easy to love, but if you commit it will love you back so hard.
Photo: Keri Bascetta
SLEEP » Assuming you don’t want to sleep in your car, head down the hill to Keystone, where you’ll find plenty of options, ranging from the upscale Ski Tip Lodge (keystoneresort.com) to the budget Arapahoe Inn (arapahoeinn.com).
EAT » On-hill, the pulled pork at the midmountain Black Mountain Lodge is delicious and cheap by mountain standards, which is nice. For dinner, the bar side of the divided Snake River Saloon is a ski-patrol go-to (read: burgers and pizza), while the restaurant side gives you grown-up sit-down options.
DRINK » The Sixth Alley at the Basin is the epitome of a ski bar. Good local beers on tap, a view, and an easily accessible shot ski. Order the bacon Bloody Mary, which contains a salad’s worth of vegetables, bacon-infused vodka, and a skewered bacon strip. It’s a local legend.