A-Basin is determined to reopen before summer: "I can tell you with absolute certainty that there is still a lot of time," says COO

A-Basin is determined to reopen before summer: "I can tell you with absolute certainty that there is still a lot of time," says COO

We may yet get to shred again, ladies and gentlemen

VicesApril 14, 2020 By Will Brendza

COVID-19 killed the 2019/20 ski season and many skiers and boarders across Colorado are still in a state of grief. (Myself among them.)

It has been over a month since Governor Polis ordered ski areas to close. Essentially, all of March, one of the heaviest months for snow, was thrown out the window. Restaurants, bars and places of social gathering, are supposed to stay closed until May 11th. And when Polis extended the Stay at Home Order to April 26th, he put the final nail in the coffin of hope for most in-bounds skiing.

But not necessarily for all of it. Arapaho Basin, is still clutching onto hope like a boarder getting dragged up a Pomalift. While most ski resorts close sometime in mid-April or early-May, the Basin normally tries to stay open through most of June and sometimes even into July.

Which, if you do the math, still leaves at least a month of viable skiing at the end of all this, even after the May 11th mark.

“Whether we are able to re-open again this spring is yet to be seen.” Wrote Al Henceroth on his blog. “I can tell you with absolute certainty that there is still a lot of time and we will not give up on trying to re-open.”

As things currently stand: A-basin (along with every other resort in Colorado) is closed. Backcountry skiing is being strangled to an early death, as rescue and medical services are stretched thin, and hospital beds used for ski injuries need to be used for COVID patients. Even people who had the knowledge and gear to get up and out-of-bounds, have been virtually blocked from doing so. Sending many into a helpless spiral of withdrawal. Colorado’s ski and board addicts have been forced into going cold turkey, and, at least personally, it’s giving me The Shakes.

But what if it’s not all over? What if there actually is some glimmer of snowy hope at the end of this bleak tunnel?

If we could get on skis again it would be heavenly. It would be one of the most liberating and comforting feelings in the world to finally get back out and sliding on snowy slopes after this business of quarantine. And it would spark a ski party unlike any other.

A-basin, should it re-open, will need to be prepared for that. It would be one of the busiest and most insane days of their history. People would show up en masse, to ski the only resort open; to get their fix after a month of deprivation. The beach party would be riotous — people would be drinking out of kegs, standing on cars, grilling, chilling, smoking, skiing, boarding and generally letting lose all of the frustrated energy that’s been built up over the last month and a half.

It would be chaos. Beautiful, mad chaos, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be, than at the center of that re-opening orgy.

We shall see, though. Because, many believe that the Stay at Home order, as well as the May 11th date for reopening bars and restaurants are hopeful (at best). Many believe that we're seeing a form of soft disclosure, where Polis is going to gently push those dates back as we get closer to them. Realistically, if he simply picked a day and reopened everything all at once, the flood of people trying to take advantage of their pinched freedoms would be so massive and sudden it would almost surely result in a second wave of COVID.

And then what? We’d be quarantined all summer, potentially even into next fall or winter…

More than anything, I want the ski resorts to open up before the snow is all gone; before it’s too late. I want to get at least one last day in before we call the 2019/20 season over for good. And I know I’m not alone in that sentiment.

However, if it risks an all-summer-long quarantine, just because we weren’t patient enough to wait this horror show out, I don’t know if it’s worth it.

Of course, that’s a cost/benefit judgement that someone much more qualified than I, needs to make. If it’s possible to re-open A-Bay at the end of their season, without risking a second outbreak of disease — if we can “have our cake and eat it too” — there’s no reason not to let The People shred.

That just seems like an awful optimistic thing to stay hopeful for. While Al Henceroth is right, that there’s still ample time to re-open the Basin, I am reluctant to keep that as any real beacon of hope. Maybe it’s possible we’ll get a short second season at the end of this — the question is, would it jeapordize another outbreak, another quarantine and more lives?