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When COVID hit in March 2020 and school and work were canceled, many skiers thought, oh well, more time to spend in the mountains! That was until the season was cut short with all the resorts closing mid-March. After a shorter-than-expected season due to unexpected closures, skiers in Colorado are even more excited for the 2020/2021 season.
However, this season will be different. Whether skiers purchase the Ikon Pass or Epic Pass, there is a risk that the resorts will close again. And even if they don’t, many Colorado resorts will require reservations to ski this year. This means that hopping in your car and hitting the mountains on a whim one morning may no longer be a reality.
All resorts on the Epic Pass will require reservations, with pass holders receiving first priority. So, if you drive up the morning of and try to purchase a ticket at the base of the mountain, you may have made the long drive for nothing. This year, resorts will be limiting the number of skiers on the mountain.
It is slightly different with the Ikon Pass. While every mountain on the Epic Pass requires reservations from pass holders, only some Ikon mountains do. All the Aspen mountains, A-Bay and Eldora, require reservations, but Steamboat, Copper, and various other Colorado resorts will not. This may seem normal, but given the course of the pandemic, this can change week to week.
It’s safe to say, skiing at Colorado resorts this year won’t be carefree like past years.
So maybe, this year is a good time to try to change things up! If you are an experienced skier, confident in anything a resort can throw at you, then this ski season may be the year to give backcountry skiing a try.
I will say that backcountry is definitely dangerous, and you and your crew should never go alone without the proper preparation. But there are many guided programs that give you the experience of backcountry skiing with minimal risks. Guided backcountry ski trips are a great introduction to a different type of skiing.
A great company experienced in giving guided adventures is called 57hours.
The company 57hours was built on the idea of packing the weekends with exciting outdoor adventures. Why the name 57hours? Well, there are 57 hours between 3 pm on Friday afternoon and midnight on Sunday. To them, making the most of your weekend means packing your car with gear, heading off to the mountains for the weekend, and returning late Sunday night, exhausted but completely recharged and ready for the upcoming work week.
In Colorado, making the most of your weekend is realistic because the mountains are so accessible. With 57hours’ guided tours, you can make memories with your friends and family backcountry skiing. It’s right at your fingertips! Given the uncertainty of COVID and the changes at the resorts, this is the year to expand your horizons and give something new a try. How many people can say that they’ve skied Vail Pass or the backcountry of Aspen? These trips will be something you and your friends will remember forever.
Requirements for Backcountry Skiing
There are no age restrictions for backcountry skiing, but skiers should be experienced and very comfortable skiing in all kinds of different terrain. Backcountry skiing requires you to be in better shape because you will be hiking all over the mountain. Let’s just say there are no chairlifts! The fitter you are, the more fun these trips will be.
With backcountry skiing, you still need everything you would when skiing at a resort, such as skis, boots, and a helmet. But you also need climbing skins for your skis, ski wax, first aid supplies, and avalanche safety kits. This all adds up and can be very expensive, if you don’t already have it. But with a guided program, these items are usually supplied for you or are available to rent from the company.
Backcountry Skiing in Vail Pass
Skiing in the backcountry requires much more preparation than skiing at a resort. Luckily, 57hours simplifies the process. Located just about 2 hours from Denver, Vail Pass has stunningly beautiful backcountry trails. No matter how many times you go, you will never ski the same route twice. There are open bowls, steep tree shots, and massive peaks. This place has it all!
To comfortably backcountry ski at Vail Pass, you need to be comfortable skiing on ungroomed terrain. There is always an inherent risk in backcountry skiing due to avalanches. When you go with a 57hour guide, you can be assured that they will take all necessary precautions and reschedule when needed. Safety is their top priority.
Book an backcountry ski adventure in Vail Pass, Colorado
Come explore backcountry skiing in Vail Pass, Colorado. Going by splitboard, telemark or alpine touring, you’ll have a blast in all the beautiful powder in the Colorado backcountry.
Backcountry Skiing in Crested Butte
Crested Butte is one of the most beautiful mountains in the state. Known as “the last great Colorado ski town,” the resort itself is quite small, but the mountain offers limitless backcountry possibilities. It is around 4.5 hours from Denver. Though farther from Vail, Crested Butte offers a less-traveled mountain. The ski season lasts from December to April, but in Crested Butte, the best time to hit the backcountry is January through the end of February. That is when the mountain gets the most snow.
Book an backcountry ski adventure in Crested Butte, Colorado
Get the most out of Crested Butte and its stunning surroundings by hiring a guide for a private tour in the backcountry. This is the best way to mitigate the area’s heightened avalanche risk while making sure to ski some untracked pow. Your guide will tailor the day’s objectives to your abilities.
Backcountry Skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park
If you’re really ready to try backcountry skiing and want something a bit more epic, try going to Rocky Mountain National Park! With peaks reaching up to 14,000-feet, you’re bound to ski some really great, technical stuff. Unlike other mountains, the prime time to backcountry ski the Rocky Mountain National Park is in the spring! March through June is when you’ll find the best snow coverage. Rocky Mountain National Park is truly a skier’s dream come true; however, this is only for advanced or expert skiers. Between the steepness, the technicality, and the fact that there is no avalanche mitigation, this is a dangerous place to go if you are unprepared. In tough spots like this, it is always a good idea to find a local guide to take you out there.
Read 57hours’ Review on Backcountry Skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park: Read Full Review
Book an backcountry ski adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park
This is the perfect chance to dive into Colorado’s revered backcountry, but without a lift ticket or back-to-back traffic along the usual routes. While RMNP’s terrain is vast, there’s no better way to challenge yourself with new objectives than by touring with a guide. Hidden Valley can be a great warm-up for more challenging terrain at Tyndall Gorge or The Dream Chutes. Count on a full day of touring and 2,000-5,000 vertical feet.
Read The Ski Guide Manual: Advanced Techniques for the Backcountry by Rob Coppolillo.
Backcountry Skiing In Aspen
Aspen has quite the reputation for being a luxury skiing location for the rich and famous. If you go to Aspen around the Holidays, you’re bound to spot some very well-known celebrities. What is way more famous though, is the backcountry terrain. Aspen has tons of options for backcountry skiers great for advanced skiers or beginners! There is something to offer for every level of skier. Aspen has plenty of snow between January and June, so you can go all season. It is a great idea to hire a guide to help you find a backcountry area perfect for your skill level.
Book a backcountry Ski Adventure in Aspen
Whether you want to chase powder in Ashcroft, the Castle Creek Valley, or Green Mountain, this is the perfect opportunity to discover the backcountry in Aspen — especially without the crowds and expensive resort lift tickets. This is a custom-made program that your guide will structure to your touring objectives and skill level.
Given the restrictions and the possibility of cancelations at the resorts, this might be the year to try something new and take a guided-backcountry skiing trip! Learn more about the best Colorado backcountry skiing locations with 57hours.