Arapahoe Basin's Lenawee Lift, aka Len, is one of the most important lifts on the mountain, taking skiers and riders from mid-mountain to the summit at 12,456 feet.
While it doesn't have the local lore of Pallavicini -- the double chair providing access to expert terrain -- Lenawee serves a significant portion of the ski area's in-bounds terrain. It gets you to everything from the East Wall expert-only hiking routes and the new-ish gladded skiing in The Beavers, to the back bowl and almost all frontside intermediate runs. It's also a direct route to both the il Rifugio and Steilhang restaurants.
Lenawee was built in 2001 (originally a double) and, at that time, was the first new lift for the ski area since 1978 when the original Pallavicini Lift was constructed.
This summer, we are replacing it. Why so soon?
A-Basin COO Alan Henceroth christening the original Lenawee Lift
Old Lenawee was a fixed-grip (i.e. slow-speed) lift with three seats per carrier. Almost entirely above treeline, it was susceptible to brief stoppages because of our high-alpine winds---winds we generally welcome because of how beautifully they buff out our terrain.
The bottom terminal for Lenawee had also become a pinch-point over the years. Because of how much terrain this lift accesses, we decided we wanted to up the capacity of 1800 people per hour to 2400 people per hour. This could be achieved with a quad chair but a six-seater will do even more to alleviate the lines, spread people out on the mountain, get everyone to the top faster, and the lift will be less likely to pause on breezy days.
The most important thing to note is that we are NOT replacing this lift in order to add more people to the mountain; the replacement of a relatively new lift is an example of how A-Basin is investing in improving your experience.
We will continue with our efforts to manage crowding and reduce numbers on our busiest days. Sales of unrestricted A-Basin season passes are still limited, and the number of lift tickets sold will be managed each day -- selling out on certain holidays and weekends.
Removal of the original Lenawee Lift towers
As of early August, the lift replacement is right on track. The old Lenawee is off to Sunlight Mountain (in Glenwood Springs, CO) where it should live long and prosper.
The top terminal of new Lenawee is coming together and the new layout will offer a better unloading experience. A helicopter has already flown in lift tower forms and will return on August 16 to pour concrete. If you're lucky, you'll get to watch from the deck of the 6th Alley Bar & Grill (opens at 11:00 AM).
A spider excavator has been making great progress digging the few new tower holes that were needed. Spider excavators are incredible pieces of equipment that, in addition to utilizing helicopters, allow us to minimize machine impact on the environment. Both were critical to constructing both the new Pali Lift and Lenawee without needing to build additional roads.
A spider excavator working on the Pali Lift a few years ago
A Karman K-MAX helicopter flying tower forms up to the Lenawee Lift line
Pouring concrete for the upper lift terminal in July. It will be slightly lower than the older one but is in the same place. The few extra feet will offer a better experience getting off the lift.
You should be able to enjoy the new lift experience this fall when the upper mountain opens for the 2022-23 winter season. Stay tuned to Al's Blog for regular construction updates.
And, of course, please keep your distance from the construction project for everyone's safety.