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Company that owns Deer Valley Resort and Solitude adds another resort that could give Ikon Pass holders a longer season

Alterra owns Utah resorts Deer Valley and Solitude.

(Alterra Mountain Resort) A skier enjoys powder and a view of Interstate 70 at Arapahoe Basin in Keystone, Colo. Alterra Mountain Resorts is in the process of buying the independently owned ski area, which is usually one of the nation's first to open and last to close.

Many Ikon Pass holders rejoiced Monday — and many multi-resort-pass critics cringed — after Alterra Mountain Resorts announced it will be adding a property to its portfolio — one that will likely allow skiers and snowboarders to get an even earlier start to their seasons.

The owners of Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin, which consistently is among the first ski areas in the nation to start each season, have entered into an agreement to sell the 1,428-acre ski area to Alterra.

Alterra is the purveyor of the multi-resort Ikon Pass, which is both popular and despised among Utah skiers and snowboarders for the budget pricing and larger crowds that accompany its economies-of-scale approach. The purchase will give Alterra 18 ski areas nationwide, the second most behind Vail Resorts. In Utah, that includes Deer Valley Resort and Solitude.

“Arapahoe Basin is considered legendary for a reason. From its unparalleled terrain to its commitment to sustainability, A-Basin has a team that has a passion and commitment for this unique place and its traditions, making it an ideal fit for the Alterra Mountain Company family,” Jared Smith, Alterra’s president and CEO, said in a news release. “A-Basin was a key addition to the Ikon Pass in 2019 and we have since then worked alongside their dedicated team and look forward to continuing our shared goals and values.”

(Alterra Mountain Resort) Arapahoe Basin rises up alongside Interstate 70 near Keystone, Colo. Alterra Mountain Resorts is in the process of buying the independently owned ski area, which is usually one of the nation's first to open and last to close.

A-Basin was founded by Colorado Ski Hall of Famer Larry Jump in 1946 as, according to the resort’s website, the first post-World War II ski area to open in the state. In 1978, Jump sold it to dog food maker Ralston Purina. It briefly became part of the Vail Resorts collection but was sold after a year when a judge objected to the company owning 43% of Colorado’s ski areas. Enter Dundee Resort Development of Canada, later Dream, which has owned the resort along the Interstate 70 corridor since 1997.

A-Basin had actually been on the Epic Pass, operated by Vail Resorts, for more than a decade. In February 2019, however, resort operators broke off the deal after determining it did not have enough parking to accommodate the increased number of visitors. The resort joined the Ikon Pass for the 2019-20 season.

Increased parking and snowmaking are among the capital improvements planned for A-Basin, according to a press release.

Alan Henceroth, A-Basin’s COO who has worked at the resort for 36 years, will remain in charge of operations.

Alan Henceroth of Arapahoe Basin

“It will take patience for all of us to get through the awkward and uncertain months between contract signing and closing,” Henceroth wrote in a blog post. “I want all of you to know that my commitment to running the best mountain in the business, focused on our unique guest experience and our passionate and dedicated employees, will be greater than ever.”

A-Basin often opens in October and closes in July thanks in part to its 13,050 peak elevation, the third highest in Colorado. It sees an average of 350 inches of snow per season, according to OntheSnow.com, and has a vertical drop of 2,270 feet. By comparison, Solitude’s vertical is 2,494 feet.

Access to A-Basin for Ikon Pass holders will not change this season.

Other Utah resorts on the Ikon Pass this season include Alta Ski Area, Brighton Resort, Snowbasin and Snowbird.