Arapahoe Basin, looking pretty thin at the end of October

Arapahoe Basin Plans Mountain Bike Trails, Via Ferrata in Summer Push

Arapahoe Basin, the highest ski resort in North America, released plans to expand its summertime activities. It recently proposed a new via ferrata and mountain bike trails on the mountain.

Skiers often look at Arapahoe Basin as a locals’ mountain. It’s smaller than its nearby Summit County, Colo., competition. It also lacks lodging or many businesses at the base. For many, that’s part of its charm.

But the little mountain with big terrain appears poised to step more aggressively into summertime business. On Tuesday, the Dillion Ranger District of the White River National Forest published Arapahoe Basin’s proposal for new activities.

Arapahoe Basin sits on land leased from the White River National Forest. Thus, the proposal must go through a regulatory oversight phase. The main proposals are for mountain bike trails and a via ferratta, a fixed climbing system that allows beginners to safely access vertical terrain.

See Squaw Valley From New Heights: Tahoe’s First Via Ferrata
See Squaw Valley From New Heights: Tahoe’s First Via Ferrata
Alpenglow Expeditions, a guide service based in the Lake Tahoe area, opened Tahoe’s only via ferrata earlier this month. Read more…

Mountain Biking at A-Basin

According to the document, the proposed action is meant to meet the demand for summertime recreational opportunities. Anyone who visits Summit County in the summer will note the region booms with tourism during warmer months.

Arapahoe Basin currently has limited mountain biking and hiking, with entry limited mostly to a dirt access road. The proposal would diversify the “difficulty, variety, and spatial extent” of trails.

Specifically, it would build about 10 trails for hiking and mountain biking. These would include some trails with banked turns and other “manmade features.” Sounds like A-Basin is considering some actual downhill trails in its future.

Via Ferrata at Arapahoe

The proposed via ferrata (Italian for “iron path”) would span two sections of the mountain: a lower course and an upper course. On each, the resort would require guided guests to wear harnesses attached to safety equipment, which is affixed to the rock.

The lower course would cross a 200-foot cliff band in the Steep Gullies area of the mountain. Officials expect between 20 and 50 guests would use this via ferrata system each day.

The upper section would be more advanced. There, climbers would scale a 700-foot cliff band on the infamous East Wall section of A-Basin. This climb sits entirely above treeline. It would “provide a unique, high-alpine experience with opportunities to summit the East Wall ridge.”

Comment Period

As the proposed project sits on leased public land, the project is open to public comment.

Anyone who would like to comment about the project can do so online here. The public comment period closes on Nov. 4, 2018.

Sean McCoy

Sean McCoy is the Editorial Director of GearJunkie, and 5+ other All Gear websites.

He has been writing about [hunting, fishing, trail running, camping, skiing, and more] for [15+ years].

Prior to GearJunkie, he was the chief photographer for the Virgin Islands Daily News and former Editor In Chief for GearJunkie. Based in Denver, Colorado, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.