A-Basin 70th Anniversary Snowshoe Dinner

One of the perks of planning a wedding at A-Basin is that they give you a ‘free’ invite to a snowshoe dinner at the Black Mountain Lodge.  “What is a snowshoe dinner?” you might wonder.  Well, it’s awesome!  No seriously it’s a blast.  Don’t eat out for a few weeks, save up, and and then you’ll owe yourself one.  They hold them a few times each winter.  For some of them (the ones graced by a full moon) they don’t spin the lifts, hence the snowshoeing.  You skin, hike or snowshoe up the hill for dinner at 7PM.  They clean up the lodge (fancy lights, black table clothes, white napkins, etc…) and present a gourmet buffet of a varying theme, as well as full bar (wine by the bottle, cocktails, beers, whatever…) and then let a bunch of smelly mountain bums pile in and feast.  Once you’re good and stuffed, you schuss down by the light of the moon, happily ever after.  Kelly and I decided to avail ourselves of such an event just last weekend.

Expecting excellent powder and two long days, we booked a hotel room in Frisco (hint: never go to the Holiday Inn there) and charged up to the main lot in time for first chair Saturday morning.  The snow was better than expected and we took as many laps our winter virgin 16-17  legs would permit.  They permitted us to do a decent amount of skiing but compelled us to take a pit stop or two…

$1 beer with a Bacon Bloody at #abasin. Plus it’s totally dumping! @kellyahowie

A photo posted by Brian Sweeney (@briangsweeney) on

Upon exhausting ourselves we retreated to the car for some cold ones.  Seriously cold ones.  Honestly, the cooler served more to keep them from getting too cold and freezing than to keep from getting too warm.  Eventually we returned to the base lodge for some coffees.

For A-Basin’s 70th, they’d ordered up a cover band of grizzly old timers who ably performed a variety of classics including Hey Joe as performed by one Jimi Hendrix, and Comfortably Numb of Pink Floyd provenance.  They were surprisingly good.  Gotta love old guys – they seem to know what they’re doing.  We passed the hours watching snow pile up on our powder boards outside.

Around 6 we packed up our gear and headed out into the night for a brisk skin half way up the mountain.  It was supposed to start snowing decently hard around dinner time.  Instead it had started dumping at lunch time.  We could hardly contain ourselves as we plowed up through deep fluff.

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A-Bay base lodge around 6PM

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Skin-track sillouette!

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Yea…it’s comin’ down for sure!

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Black Mountain Lodge decked out for the occasion.

Having done next to snow skinning so far this season, and having just skied our day of the season, we feared we’d be late to the party.  As it turns out a big rig jackknifed down by Keystone and a the pass had long since closed.  Most of the diners were stuck behind the disabled vehicle and hadn’t arrived in the parking lot practically until we had made it to the lodge.  We made ourselves comfortable at our assigned seats and got to work on some serious re-hydrating – all that high altitude drinking skiing really takes it out of ya!

As people trickled in we were invited to start sampling the apps, and eventually soup, salad and dinner.  They even followed up with a desert!  The theme of the evening was Latin, and despite being a buffet style event, they really delivered.  The yellow-fin tuna ceviche was probably my favorite item, served as an app.  Another standout was the fried plantains.  Other memorable items included the coconut grilled mahi mahi, empanadas, grilled skirt steak, and corn on the cob.  There was something for everyone, and more than plenty.

Toward the conclusion of our epic feast, powder fever took hold and guests began a mass exodus into the moonless night.  It was truly the blind leading the blind, but newly blanketed slopes were more than forgiving.  I could have used a more powerful headlamp and certainly clear lenses would have helped, but the snow was falling so hard that there may have been diminishing returns on any superior equipment.  We blissfully felt our way down the mountain, eagerly anticipating a good night of sleep followed by a long powder day.

#powdernight #nightskiing with @kellyahowie at #abasin #co #adventure

A video posted by Brian Sweeney (@briangsweeney) on

#nightskiing mishap at #abasin with @kellyahowie

A video posted by Brian Sweeney (@briangsweeney) on

Whoops b-netting tangles worse than earbuds… With @kellyahowie

A video posted by Brian Sweeney (@briangsweeney) on

Picking up our mess. Swear to god I never saw it coming…

A video posted by Brian Sweeney (@briangsweeney) on

#powdernight jeez looks like it’s been snowing a bit! @kellyahowie #xterra #abasin

A video posted by Brian Sweeney (@briangsweeney) on

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That’s a solid foot, right there! Game on!


We crawled back down US 6 in bottom gear and skulked to our hotel, marveling the whole way at the epic mountains of snow lining the road.  After a brief hotel debacle (seriously, don’t ever go to the Holiday Inn in Frisco, even if you have prepaid and booked a week in advance) we settled in for an all too quick snooze before returning to the slopes for deep powder.

Route 6 down to one lane!

Route 6 down to one lane for the AM commute!

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Warm up run

With over 150% more snow than the forecast 12″, Patrol had all they could do to open the bigger terrain on the mountain.  A-Basin had gone for the measliest coverage to full send in about the span of two weeks, and they had their work cut out, in terms of avalanche mitigation.  We warmed up on some smooth groomers and eagerly awaited the opening of the upper mountain.  Eventually it was game-on, and we were not disappointed.

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I bet you there’s good skiing down yonder!

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Out of the sun!

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Where are my skis!

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West Wall Cornice Run – I can’t see a damn thing…

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Oh hey, is that Kelly?

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Whoa, where’d that booter come from?

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Jeez there’s two of ’em!

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Mmmm, the good stuff…

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