This past Saturday started like any other, with a great breakfast accompanied by an Americano. I had quickly gathered my gear, hopped into the Tahoe and headed into the mountains with the goal of hiking/snowshoeing to an abandoned Colorado ski area. My destination was the Geneva Basin Ski Area. Driving west along scenic US 285 I made the turn north onto the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway from the little hamlet of Grant, Colorado. You are able to travel along the scenic byway to Georgetown from late spring until the first major snowfall. Once the snowfall occurs, the winter gate is closed at the seven mile mark. Upon my arrival, I was expecting to be the only vehicle at the winter gate; however, to my surprise, there where three other cars parked along side of the road.
After I had secured my snowshoes to my pack, I began my trek to the base of the ski area. The road for the first mile and a half was partially snow covered. Around the eight mile mark through the switchback, the road was fully covered in snow, but the well-traversed trail did not require the use of the snowshoes or any other traction devices. Upon making the turn and beginning the journey through the switchbacks, I ran into a party of six people who had hiked to the viewing area at the midpoint of the switchback. From the viewing area you are able to look to the south and southwest of Geneva Peak. Ascending through the switchback you are about one mile from the base of the ski area. Total time to the base of Geneva Basin Ski Area from the winter gate was about two hours with a total elevation gain of roughly 1165 feet.
At that point, it was my intention to climb to the summit of the abandoned resort, but time was not on my side that day. The climb from the base to the old ski patrol hut would have taken about an hour, with another elevation gain of about 1200 feet. I did, however, find the most desirable route to the ski hut via the old Knicker Knocker run. I plan to return to complete that portion of the adventure in the near future.
Geneva Basin Ski Area opened in 1963. It had started out as Indianhead, which is the same Indianhead Ski Area found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After a few years, the resort succumbed to financial difficulties and was purchased by Roy Romer, the former governor of Colorado. The resort changed hands a few more times. In its final year, the resort served well over 20,000 skiers before closing in the spring of 1984. Since then, the area has beckoned those who venture into the backcountry searching for the perfect line, earning their turns after each ascent.