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On June 10, 1946, Larry Jump, Frederick  “Sandy” Schauffler, and Dick Durrance submitted a proposal to the US Forest Service to establish a ski area on the west side of Loveland Pass that would become Arapahoe Basin. The trio brought credibility—Jump was a veteran of the US Army’s famed 10th Mountain Division, while Schauffler and Durrance had raced in the Winter Olympics—but even so, what happened next seems laughable today. The Forest Service approved their permit request in 11 days, a process that could take a decade now. 

During the inaugural season, A-Basin’s guests rode in an Army weapons carrier towed by a four-wheel-drive vehicle to what is now the site of Black Mountain Lodge; there, they grabbed hold of a rope and continued to the top of the hill before skiing down. A-Basin recorded 1,200 skier visits that winter. 

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As A-Basin celebrates its 70th anniversary this winter, a lot has changed at “the Legend.” Skier visits have grown to 425,000 a year. Thanks to snowmaking, the area offers the longest season in the nation—opening in October and closing in June—and provides turns on the East Wall from an elevation of 13,050 feet. 

Still, as with anything that endures, the foundation laid by Jump and his friends was far more important than the expansions and improvements that have followed. “To me, one of the very coolest things,” Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth says, “is this: At a time when the concept of a ski resort barely existed, the fact that they came here and found this place and had the vision to see what it could be—the original lift locations were just spot-on perfect—still amazes me today.”

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