This spring, after several years of work, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced that it reached its goal of carbon-neutral operations a year ahead of schedule. The initial goal, announced in 2018, was based on a six-step plan, which included projects such as diverting waste, preserving ecosystems on the resort’s slopes, and increasing transportation efficiency for employees and guests through shuttles and carpooling incentives, among other things.

In October of last year, the resort announced that it had reached one of its most challenging goals within its plan for achieving carbon neutrality: transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity. So while reaching its 2025 goal in 2024 is exciting, it isn’t exactly surprising.

This latest achievement deserves celebration, but it’s far from the end of the road when it comes to A-Basin’s ultimate plan for sustainable operations. “We’re so proud of this accomplishment,” said the ski area’s chief operating officer Alan Henceroth in a press release, emphasizing that the work isn’t done.

In order to obtain carbon neutrality in 2024, A-Basin went with carbon offsets. Through a partnership with Terrapass, the resort invested in multiple U.S.-based projects to reduce the impact of its carbon footprint. Still, carbon offsets don’t actually reduce carbon emissions directly, so officials from the Basin view it as a temporary solution as they work toward operating on a completely carbon-free basis. “These offsets simply allow us to do some good in the meantime,” said sustainability manager Mike Nathan in the press release.

Ski resorts are inherently carbon- and energy-intensive, making the goal of carbon-free operations particularly ambitious, though not impossible. “After getting to 100 percent renewable electricity last year, and with viable carbon-free systems nearly within our grasp, we now know that our real goal [net-zero, carbon-free operations] is just over the horizon,” Nathan said.

Future plans include transitioning to an all-electric vehicle fleet, which may eventually include electric snowcats for grooming. Earlier this year, Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico was the first in North America to put an electric cat to work on its slopes, and it’s likely that A-Basin and other resorts won’t be far behind.

While there’s been much talk about the pending purchase of A-Basin by Alterra Mountain Company, Henceroth remains the resort’s chief operating officer and says the ski area will continue to push forward with the sustainability goals that are true to the Basin’s roots.

“A-Basin is committed to being stewards of the White River National Forest so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy it in every season for years to come,” he said.

A-Basin will celebrate its carbon-neutral accomplishment during its annual Sustainability Bash this Saturday, April 20. The festivities will include ski and snowboard demos, raffles, a rail jam, and swag for folks carpooling with three or more people.

Stasia Stockwell
Stasia Stockwell
Stasia is a writer and mountain dweller who currently calls the Tenmile Range home.