Let’s face it, driving up the i-70 corridor to go skiing isn’t as easy as it used to be. Colorado’s population growth paired with an overall increase in interest for winter sports has made i-70 weekend traffic unbearable. Pair rush hour traffic with a snowstorm and your commute can easily double if not triple in time.
If you live in northern Colorado and still want to enjoy skiing and snowboarding without the stress of driving to a resort, consider exploring the backcountry! Ski touring (backcountry skiing) or splitboarding (backcountry snowboarding) can be a great way to explore new terrain, grow your skill set, expand your equipment collection, reconnect with friends, and get a good work out in!
Endless terrain to explore. Driving from the front range in northern Colorado, you can easily access terrain in Rocky Mountain National Park or Cameron Pass. Both locations offer a quick day trip with endless amounts of terrain to explore.
Expand your skill-set – it is not as hard as you might think! Like any new sport, it can seem intimidating to get started. There is much to learn! But there is good news. Your skiing or snowboarding technique in-bounds will translate to helping you safely navigate the terrain in the backcountry with confidence. Just remember to flip your touring boots back into “ski mode” before you send it down the mountain!
Equipment continues to improve. Long gone are the days where you literally had to apply wax onto the bottom of your skis to create the traction and grip necessary to climb uphill. Here is a rundown of what you will need to ski in the backcountry:
- Beacon, Shovel & Probe – Everyone in your ski group must have a beacon on, fully charged, and strapped to their body the entire day. Avalanche beacons are transceivers that emit a pulsed radio signal that will help locate a body if an avalanche gets triggered. The shovel and probe will be used to locate the exact spot of the body and remove snow for the rescue.
- Skins – Skins can be purchased specifically for skis or split boards and are made to easily attach to the bottom when heading uphill. They then can easily be removed for skiing downhill and then reused many times over.
- Uphill Skis/Splitboard & Poles – If you plan on skiing, purchase a pair of skis that have alpine touring bindings and boots that can click in and out of ski mode. Splitboards are a special type of snowboard that split apart so that you can rotate the bindings and skin uphill.
It turns out, you can have friends on a powder day. Backcountry skiing must be a shared experience. Never go alone! Bring your friends on a powder day. Touring uphill is a great way to reconnect and catch up with friends. And when it comes to assessing slope angles, terrain traps, snow conditions, and your overall safety, make sure communication is clear and constant.
Earn your turns and your beer! It turns out, hiking up a mountain at high elevations for multiple miles is hard work! Make sure you pack a snack to sustain your energy levels and get ready to get your sweat on. But don’t worry, the powder turns on the way down and post-trek beer will make it well worth it.
So, there you have it. Motivation to venture into the backcountry!
Outpost Sunsport has backcountry packages available for sale. All 2019/2020 backcountry demo skis, boots, and bindings are available for up to 50% off! Come in today and we would love to show you what we have available! Our experienced staff members will explain how the gear works and help set you up for a fun adventure-filled day.
Additional Resources: It is important to understand that when you ski in the backcountry, you are taking a risk. To best avoid getting trapped in an avalanche or lost in the wilderness, be sure to KNOW BEFORE YOU GO! This means do research on where you will be skiing, take and Avalanche training course, and ski with experienced mountaineers. Below are some resources that you can reference for guidance along with an upcoming educational event.