Well, that was something.
This is the time when we ask our photographer, Ian Zinner, to choose his favorite shots from the previous year. A lot of back and forth goes into the final picks since there are so many good ones, but we had no disagreement on what the photo of the year would be. We posted the below image on our website homepage when the ski area was forced to close suddenly on March 15, 2020. In that moment, we all felt like skier Delilah Cupp in this shot (she was unhurt) as our community ground to a halt overnight due to COVID-19.
The state-mandated COVID-19 closure lasted two-and-a-half months. During that time, we never stopped maintaining our mountain. Thanks to our long season (the longest in Colorado), we were able to re-open on May 27 and close on our own terms on June 7. Those few weeks gave us a chance to help our community heal, offer the joy of skiing and riding to the A-Basin faithful, provide work for our employees, and test out health and safety procedures in preparation for summer operations and the 2020-21 season.
Before we closed, we were enjoying a phenomenal season. In early February, the Basin received 3 feet of snow over three consecutive days. In between generous snowstorms, we enjoyed many days of our characteristic beautiful, blue-sky weather. The Steep Gullies and parts of the East Wall (first photo below) were able to open, and deep untracked powder was easy to find in The Beavers (second photo below). Simply put, the skiing and riding was really, really good.
Not only was the snow all-time last spring but we were joyfully embracing the quirkiness and outright fun that makes us The Legend. In February, we partnered with Pit Viper to host the world's largest, single-day "ski in jeans" event. By early afternoon, 80 people clad in their finest denim gathered at the top of the Pallavicini lift to establish a new record because ... why not?
“A-Basin couldn’t have been cooler about it,” Pit Viper’s Spencer Harkins told Powder magazine. “It stayed super safe, everyone was really respectful and it was a really inclusive event.” (We're bummed to only be posting one of Ian's photo from the ski in jeans day. If you are, too, head over to Powder's story to see a bunch more pics.)
2020 was also the final year of service for the (in)famous Pali lift, the "black jewel in the crown of A-Basin." The fixed-grip double was retired last summer and its chairs auctioned for charity (except for staff who have worked here for 25+ years; they each got to take a chair home with them). Not only did this lift deliver you 1,329 feet up from the base area to the top of some of Colorado's steepest inbounds terrain, but it did it in slow-speed style through one of the most beautiful landscapes around for more than 40 years. Fear not, the new Pali lift is already hard at work doing the same.
Fast forward to July. This was the summer many of you discovered that A-Basin loses none of its majesty when the snow melts. In 2020, we opened a 7-course aerial adventure park, started work on a via ferrata climbing area, and built a spectacular new hiking trail (Half Moon Vista). Many of you found solitude, fresh air, delicious food, and a much-needed mountain escape at A-Basin. Even if you don't hike to the summit in time to capture a 5:30 a.m. sunrise over the Beavers lift as Ian did, we invite you to come see us this summer.
Opening day for the 2020-21 season came a little later than usual but felt like a huge victory. Between COVID-19 and a statewide drought, opening the Black Mountain Express lift to the public on the afternoon of November 9 was both a sigh of relief and a celebration. We love this photo because it captured the mood of that day and anywhere Ian pointed his camera, people were raising their hands in excitement. It also dumped on opening day, which was pretty cool. Those of you willing to sit in a snowstorm on the deck of the 6th Alley Bar & Grill to drink a cold beverage are a hearty breed and our hats are off to you.
Finally, we had to include a shot of the new Pali lift. She is basically the same as the old Pali (except silver and with bars on the chairs), and the ride to the center of the universe has not changed. Pali lift is now open, and you're all invited to come out and take it for a spin.
However your 2020 shook out, we hope 2021 is better. To quote Al from his June 7, 2020, closing day blog: The times have been weird. Thanks to all who stuck with us.