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Behind the Scenes

The New Lenawee Express Lift Opens 12/16

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s new Lenawee Express is set to open a little after 9 AM on Friday, December 16, for 7-day-a-week operations.

The addition of this high-speed 6-chair is all about providing you a more quality ski and ride experience, and is part of our significant efforts to reduce lift lines and crowding. It also means A-Basin is now home to the youngest ski-area lift fleet in the U.S., all of which were built by Leitner-Poma of America.

When Lenawee Express opens, several upper-mountain runs will also open, greatly expanding A-Basin’s terrain offerings and means all lifts will be turning except for Zuma, which serves the south-facing back bowl and is usually not open by now, anyway. The snow at the top of the mountain has been piling up and the ski/ride conditions are expected to be awesome. 

To start with, Lenawee will serve Humbug, Dercum’s Gulch, Lenawee Face, Lenawee Parks, and Powerline, plus Cornice Run to West Wall, with more opening very soon. We’re also adding more terrain off the Beavers and Pali lifts, and will open our Steilhang Hut German restaurant for lunch on Saturday. (Check terrain status Friday morning to know exactly what will be open.)

Lenawee Express Stats

  • 2400 people per hour (up from 1800)
  • 4-minute ride time (up from 9-10)
  • 6 seats per carrier/chair (up from 3)
  • Terrain served: The East Wall, Montezuma Bowl, upper-mountain frontside intermediate runs, and The Beavers.
  • Top terminal elevation: 12,456 feet

Moving a lift terminal up the summer road during winter operations

The previous Lenawee Lift, which was in the exact same spot, was less than 25 years old but had become the last major pinch-point on the mountain. The idea to replace it began to take shape a couple of years ago as A-Basin implemented serious and concrete efforts to reduce and control crowding, including limiting the sales of unrestricted season passes and daily lift tickets. 

The choice to go with 6-seat chairs was to help alleviate lift lines and get people to the top and spread out more quickly. The weight of the bigger chairs means the lift will also be far less likely to slow down or stop due to wind. Almost entirely above treeline, Lenawee was susceptible to brief pauses because of A-Basin’s high-alpine winds–winds that are generally welcome because of how nicely they buff out the terrain. 

Two ways of transporting and pouring concrete. Helicopters were used to reduce our impact on the terrain.

Work on the project started in May 2022, a few days after Lenawee closed and while A-Basin was still open for skiing and riding. Completion delays were due to supply chain issues impacting critical parts and severe, wet weather. We are grateful that the extremely rainy summer meant we did not experience any major wildfires in our home county but it made lift construction challenging. 

Lenawee Express is actually the fourth lift in the same location. In the 1960s, a platter lift took skiers up to the Lenawee Parks terrain, about halfway up the current lift line. Next came the Lenawee fixed-grip double lift in 1974. In 2001, the fixed-grip triple that guests were using through last season was built. At the time, the Lenawee triple was the first new lift for the ski area since 1978 when the original Pallavicini Lift was constructed. 

The Lenawee triple, still in its youth, was purchased by Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort in Glenwood Springs, CO, and will be reused.