Colorado officially opens for the winter season as Arapahoe Basin fires up the lifts
Nate Dogggg and crew ringing in the winter season with first chair.
A 6:00am departure was on the docket for the first trip of the season west on I-70 towards the mountains. Traveling in the dark brought back memories of last year’s not-so-awesome trips to the Rocky Mountains to shred. But with hopes high that this year will be different—filled with storms by night and perfect bluebird skies by day—we made our way toward Arapahoe Basin, the first resort to spin up the lifts in Colorado.
Last night’s storm left I-70 a slip ‘n’ slide, with police shutting down eastbound traffic. Luckily, westbound stayed open, and after a slow, sketchy upward climb over Loveland pass, we arrived at Arapahoe Basin with the car’s thermometer reading 15 degrees Fahrenheit and a wind chill that brought it much lower. It was 7:30am and we had scored the first spot on The Beach, a well known area of A-Basin’s lower parking lot that is accustomed to many a cocktail and plenty of hot dogs.
A long lift line awaits dedicated riders and skiers.
We quickly made our way to the lift to find that a long line had already formed with none other than Nate Dogggg, a Summit County local, snagging rights to first chair. This would mark Nate Dogggg’s 17th year obtaining first chair in either Colorado or North America. You could say the kid is dedicated, but that would be an understatement. Alongside Nate on first chair were pro shredder Chad Otterstrom and two friends adorning large white beaters over their jackets that read, “I’m with Nate Dogggg.”
This year, Nate and crew had taken opening day just as seriously as the last 16, arriving around 9:00am the previous morning to claim their spot at the front of the line. After surviving a blistery night of howling winds and roughly 4-6 inches of fresh snow (sadly whisked away by the high winds), the clock struck 9:00am and the crew loaded up. Media from around the country swarmed to get shots of first chair as Nate and his crew posed for photos and video in front of a poster reading, “Colorado is open.”
As the day progressed, the line slowly shrunk as snowboarders and skiers enjoyed the white strip of death formally known as A-Basin’s High Noon trail. About half way down High Noon, the A-Basin park crew setup 6 features including two down rails, an A frame, a down flat down, a flat box and a flat down box for everyone to work out the summer rust on.
Riders were going off at the opening day park.
We met up with Now Snowboarding’s Ian Smith and Tahoe transplant Will Mayo to put in some laps in the opening day park along with a crowd of rippers. It felt like it was the middle of the season as everyone was gong for broke. Kids were crashing hard and hiking back up for more. It was quite the spectacle to see on opening day.
Once we got our park fix, we headed for A-Basin’s Sixth Alley Bar for its renowned Bacon Bloody Marys, a bacon-infused vodka mixed in with some secret ingredients and topped off with a pickle, an olive, a pepperoncini and a nice big piece of bacon on a stick that feels more like a meal than a cocktail.
Hot dogs and Bacon Bloody Marys, two necessary things on opening day.
After we downed our liquid lunch, we headed back to The Beach to grill up some hot dogs and converse on another successful opening day in Colorado. If you have the itch and can’t seem to scratch it, head over to Arapahoe Basin, grab a ticket (a somewhat pricey $64 for only one trail) and get the winter started. Colorado is officially open for business.
The media in a frenzy getting the opening day first chair shot.
Everyone loves the Cool Bus.
Opening day always brings in some creative costumes and skin.