Fall arrived on Wednesday and now we’re counting down the days to ski season, knowing that by this time next month we could have lifts turning at two or three Front Range ski areas. And, yes, our skis are already waxed, tuned and ready to go.
While we wait anxiously to visit our favorite ski areas and backcountry tours, we’ve compiled a list of five cool new amenities at Colorado resorts this season that we think you will like:
Steilhang Hut, Arapahoe Basin: In German, steilhang means “steep slope,” but for many skiers it evokes images of the most prestigious downhill race in the world at Kitzbuehel, Austria (the scariest pitch on that legendary course is called The Steilhang). The Steilhang Hut at A-Basin takes its name from the steep slopes of the East Wall that loom above it. The new German-style alpine hut, located near the top of the ski area above treeline, will feature Colorado-made specialty sausages, German-style craft beer from Denver’s Prost Brewing Co., soft pretzels and strudel made by Denver bakeries. It will be located at the intersection of two intermediate trails, Lenawee Face and Dercum’s Gulch. It will have a wraparound deck, composting toilets and solar power. Sight unseen, but knowing the setting well, we think this might become our favorite place on a ski mountain for lunch.
Loveland Snowcat Tours in Dry Gulch: Dry Gulch is located on the north side of Interstate 70, just east of Loveland’s Lift 8, outside the operational boundaries of the ski area. The snowcat will provide guided backcountry tours in 580 acres of open bowl and tree skiing. Full-day trips consisting of eight to 11 runs with 600 to 800 feet of vertical drop will be offered along with lunch, and avalanche transceivers will be provided. Trips will be offered when conditions permit and are expected to start in January. Prices have not yet been set.
McCoy Park, Beaver Creek: The notion of bowl skiing typically conjures images of wide-open vistas with steep and deep terrain, the exclusive province of expert and advanced skiers and riders. The intent of McCoy Park, Beaver Creek’s 250-acre expansion, is to give families with less advanced skills a sense of what the bowl-skiing experience is like. With 17 runs and two chairlifts, the terrain is suitable for beginners and low-intermediates. Vail Resorts’ PR material says the idea is to give beginners and intermediates a chance to improve their skills on terrain “mimicking the setting of advanced trails such as mountain-top vistas, groomed glades, adventure zones and more.”
Ember at Snoasis, Winter Park: There’s something lovably old school about Snoasis, a mid-mountain restaurant built back in the 1960s. This season it will have a trendy new dining amenity, the trend being outdoor dining with modern cuisine. Ember will be set up on an outdoor patio at Snoasis with a live fire wall. Guests will be able to choose from a menu of “global cuisines” and a “cut of the day,” such as lamb or wild game. Snoasis has always been one of those places you want to linger on a sunny day and savor the views, but this season it should be even more tasty. Something else to keep in mind: If you’re a fan of Stoney’s Bar & Grill, the popular Denver sports bar will have a new location in the Winter Park Village base area.
Big changes at the Steamboat base: In the first phase of a three-year, $135 million redevelopment project, two large buildings in the base area have been demolished and removed — including the venerable gondola building — and the arrival experience for guests in the base area will be greatly improved. “Previously when you arrived at the transit center, you worked through a maze of cumbersome stairs to make your way down to the base area, which was tough — especially if it was your first time arriving at the resort,” said Steamboat spokeswoman Maren Franciosi. “Now there will be a very clear main entrance that will include escalators bringing guests down into the new Steamboat Square. There will be new buildings added to Steamboat Square in future years, but this move will be clearing the way for the future.” Once there, guests will see the lower gondola terminal has been moved 300 feet up the slope.
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