For 58 years the legendary Arapahoe Basin has been wowing winter pioneers with fresh snow and world-class trails for all levels of experience. Not only does A-Basin have the extensive trail system, but it also boast the highest skiable terrain in the North American continent with a base elevation of 10,780 feet and summit elevation of 13,050 feet.
Arapahoe Basin opened in 1946 with one, mid-mountain rope tow that skiers reached in an Army weapons carrier pulled by a four-wheel drive vehicle. It all began in 1945 when the Winter Sports Committee and the Denver Chamber of Commerce hired 10th Mountain Division veteran Larry Jump and Olympic Ski Team member Frederick Schauffler to survey Colorado for potential ski area sites. The two recruited Olympic medallist Richard Durrance, and the three went on to develop a $150,000 plan that included two chairlifts, a rope tow and a trail layout designed by forest ranger Wilfred David. Jump elected local resident and forestry professor Max Dercum as one of Arapahoe Basin's board of directors.
The company was unable to attain funds to build the two lifts for the ski area's inauguration, but the skier-day tally for the first, rope-tow-only season was 1,200. By the next season, Marnie Brown, soon to be known as Marnie Jump, helped finance the original plan. Ross Davis founded the Arapahoe Basin ski school, and Dercum and his wife Edna, who also owned the Ski Tip Ranch, Colorado's oldest guest ranch, became instructors.
Jump supervised the ski area for the next 20 years, and in the mid 60s patrolman Joe Jankowsky took over management. In 1978, Keystone's parent company, Ralston-Purina, purchased Arapahoe Basin for 3.2 million, and by 1979, there were five chairlifts. Dundee Realty, based in Canada, took over the ski area in 1997, when Vail Resorts acquired Keystone and Breckenridge.
The ski area still has just five chairlifts, but one of the largest landmarks in A-Basin history took place in the 2002-2003 season. After 46 years of relying on Mother Nature to blanket its slopes with the white stuff, the ski area began making its own snow. Some changes are inevitable, but Arapahoe Basin remains in a class of its own, its tradition and rich history, elevation and challenging terrain make A-Basin a legend.