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Arapahoe Basin Joins IKON: Alterra Mountain Company Buys ‘The Legend’

Alterra Mountain Company, which created the IKON Pass, is the 'best team to help us through our next phase,' said Arapahoe Basin's COO.
Arapahoe Basin ColoradoSkiers at Arapahoe Basin, which will become the latest ski resort owned by Alterra Mountain Company; (photo/Shutterstock)
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Long known as one of Colorado’s best independent ski resorts, Arapahoe Basin will become the latest property in Alterra Mountain Company’s growing portfolio. A Monday announcement said that Alterra bought the resort from Dream Unlimited, a Toronto-based real estate company.

When the deal is completed later this year, it will make Arapahoe Basin the 18th “year-round mountain destination” owned by Alterra, the creators of the IKON Pass.

Skiers don’t have to worry about any sudden changes this season, however. No changes are planned for the IKON Pass “at this time,” a press release said. Alterra didn’t include much about plans for its newest property, except a promise to create additional parking and increase snow-making.

A-Basin, as the locals call it, has been with the IKON Pass since 2019. It offers some of North American skiing’s highest elevations and most challenging terrain, “paired with a laid back atmosphere,” the release said.

“Arapahoe Basin is considered legendary for a reason,” Jared Smith, Alterra Mountain Company’s CEO and president, said.

Alterra Is Right ‘For Our Next Phase’

Arapahoe Basin’s previous parent company, Dream Unlimited, managed it for 27 years. That’s the longest anyone has owned “The Basin,” and they did a great job, said Alan Henceroth, the resort’s chief operating officer.

In a Feb. 5 blog post, Henceroth said that Dream had made consistent investments over the years. From improvements in snow-making and infrastructure, as well as listening to guests, the company “fostered the environment we all know and love,” Henceroth wrote.

“I don’t think another company could have created what Dream did,” he added.

East Wall in the backdrop of skiers at A-Basin Ski Area
Arapahoe Basin’s East Wall in the backdrop; (photo/Arapahoe Basin Ski Area)

Arapahoe Basin, just 68 miles from Denver, boasts the longest season in Colorado, often lasting through the Fourth of July. Its terrain includes Pallavicini, the East Wall, and the Steep Gullies, plus the Beavers and Montezuma Bowl, some of North America’s newest ski slopes. The Beach, a stretch of prime real estate at the base, transforms into one of Colorado’s longest-standing après traditions.

The acquisition is just the latest in a decades-long consolidation of ski resorts under the umbrellas of a couple of mega-corporations, notably Alterra Mountain Resorts and Vail Resorts, Inc. With dozens of independent resorts folding into these two companies since Vail Resorts launched in 1997, some skiers bemoan the corporatization of what was previously a largely independent business model.

In 2019, Arapahoe Basin dropped its participation in the Vail Resort-owned Epic Pass, citing problems with overcrowding, Summit Daily reported. It soon joined IKON Pass instead, which has fewer pass holders. In 2021, Arapahoe Basin doubled down, selling 10% fewer season passes and day tickets.

Resort leaders want to preserve the Arapahoe Basin experience, and Alterra is now the best company to lead it forward, Henceroth said.

“They know and understand The Basin and are enamored by its culture and vibe,” he wrote. “They are the best team to help us through our next phase of growth and maturation.”

Editor Mary Murphy climbing a section of the A Basin via ferrata

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