FRISCO — Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced Friday morning that it would partner with Alterra Mountain Co. and join the Ikon Pass starting this winter.

The news comes more than five months after A-Basin ended its more than 20-year partnership with Vail Resorts on Feb. 18 citing overcrowding in its parking lots, facilities and restaurants.

“We think we’re ready to go this on our own,” A-Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth said in February, and spokeswoman Katherine Fuller said in March that A-Basin was “discussing opportunities with several resorts and resort groups.”

In an email blast announcing the news Friday, Henceroth said the new pass partnership would provide more “elbow room” than in previous seasons.

“I think everyone that has been skiing here for the last several years has realized how busy we’ve become, and we really wanted to address that,” Henceroth said on the phone Friday.

Asked how joining another pass product would help with crowding, Henceroth said the scale of Ikon is nowhere near the scale of Epic.

“We are very confident this is going to address the crowding issues we’ve been talking about for a while,” he said.

Henceroth said the Ikon Pass partnership also will help reduce crowds because the passes offer a limited number of days with blackout periods.

Ikon passholders will have seven days at A-Basin with no blackout dates, and Ikon Base passholders will get five days with blackout dates over the holidays.

“We’re committed to getting quite a few less people here over those busy periods,” he said.

Also in the Friday email blast, Henceroth said he personally skis at many of the Ikon Pass resorts — including Alta and Snowbird in Utah, Jackson Hole in Wyoming and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in California — and that their brands are “in sync” with A-Basin.

“We really think when we look at the Ikon partners … we think those are resorts whose brand is really in sync with our brand, and people who like to ski A-Basin will like to ski those places, too,” Henceroth said.

“For us, it’s really about maintaining the culture and the vibe” of A-Basin, he said.

The news means Summit County is now split with Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort on the Epic Pass and A-Basin and Copper Mountain Resort on Ikon.

The news also puts the pass war tally even in Colorado, with six resorts on each pass:

Ikon Pass: A-Basin, Aspen Snowmass, Copper, Eldora Mountain Resort, Steamboat Resort and Winter Park Resort
Epic Pass: Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Keystone, Telluride and Vail