When I think of Arapahoe Basin I think of the East Wall, Palli Chair, Zuma, the Beach, and the Race to be the first resort to open in Colorado. I don’t think of lift lines, paying for parking or gourmet dining – until now. A-Basin’s Chef Rybak has done for the menu what snow making crews do for opening day.
Unlike A-Basin’s tasty terrain, before Chef Rybak came on board the food choices looked more like a bland pallet, but Chef took to the menu like Bob Ross to a blank canvas, instilling his own creativity in cuisine offerings and dining options, yet still keeping the menu in step with the rest of the resort’s affordability.
Last year, A-Basin dabbled in snowshoe dinners and only offered one event, which sold out and was a resounding success. This past season, A-Basin expanded their dinners to five nights, each on a full moon, and themed them with cuisine from a different mountain range from around the world. Guests were invited to bring their snowshoes and headlamps and take the chairlift not only to the Black Mountain Lodge, but practically to another country, as dinners were prepared with inspiration from the Pyrenees, Dolomites, Andes, and Dynafit Nachtspek TAKel (which I learned is German).
We went on Andes night which featured delights from Argentina and Chile with a heavy influence of cuisine from the Mediterranean. With the excuse of having plans to have dinner at A-Basin, we made a weekend out of it and skied there during the day.
I’ve skied at A-Basin a lot but had never tackled some of their most challenging terrain, like the East Wall. (And actually, the more I read Al’s Blog, the more I realize I haven’t even begun to ski all their challenging terrain.)
What I like about the East Wall is that you don’t have to hike all the way to the top, you can traverse across and drop in anywhere you want.
After several laps on East Wall we rounded out the day with laps on Pallavicini (which I can never pronounce and I’m not even sure its spelled correctly). But the lines are fun and challenging with steeps and bumps and trees if you want ‘em.
After a great day on the mountain we apres-ed back at the condo while we got ready for dinner. It wasn’t easy trying to decide what to wear to a nice dinner that you had to snowshoe home from. We opted to bring a backpack that let us stash some extra clothes and then change in the ladies room. The guys didn’t seem to have this wardrobe challenge problem.
We boarded the lift, which was so weird not having skis on.
During the ride up I felt like I was going to slip off the chair I was so light.
Inside, guests were greeted with a complimentary cordial and invited to make their way to the appetizer buffet. The band was doing their thing …
and the kitchen staff was doing their thing.
Dinner was served buffet style offering a symphonic fusion of flavors and textures from a variety of grilled meats (Parilla) with chimichurri sauce to pastas, fresh produce and cheeses.
Wines from the region were available by the bottle or glass for purchase, which we did.
Once everyone had gone through the buffet, Chef came out from the kitchen to a standing ovation and made the rounds to greet diners.
After dinner, we changed back into our ski clothes (at least us girls did), got our snowshoes on, grabbed a couple of roadies (after dinner truffles no doubt) and headed out the door to make our way down the mountain.
It was obvious that no one in our group was a regular moonlight snowshoe-dinner-goer by the absence of headlamps, flashlights, or any navigating in the dark tools of any kind. None of us had poles in our hands which, as it turns out, can be very helpful when snowshoeing down a mountain in the dark, but rather opted to hold cans of PBR. Luckily A-Basin anticipated noobs like us and had lit the pathway down with green glow sticks that hung from bamboo poles. The glow sticks would lead us to the bottom like we were following the yellow brick road.
If I was at all a qualified photographer, or at least had a camera from this decade, I’d be able to show you what the snowshoe down was like. While the moon was behind a cloud, when we turned the corner from the Black Mountain Lodge and headed east, the view of the East Wall, which we had skied earlier in the day, was almost dreamlike. It was lighted up by the cloud hidden moon with just enough light to make out the rocks and crevasses, which stood out next to the snow covered chutes. It was so beautiful and quiet and dark and we were in awe as we walked toward the wall of mountain in front of us.
The trail turned and headed down the front side of A-Basin and took us on a path that was lined with trees on both sides. Then it started to snow.
And again, the dimly lit moon cast just enough light on the snow beneath us, that when the snow started to fall, it almost felt like we were underwater – and the little green glow sticks seemed like glowing fish floating in front of us.