Quarantine makes you want to go on outdoor adventures. Unsurprisingly, Colorado’s backcountry has seen a record number of winter enthusiasts, from skiers and snowboarders to snowshoes and snowmobilers. What’s great – nothing is more satisfying than challenging us outside. In winter, Colorado’s soaring peaks and sweeping vistas sparkle with added appeal … but also with added risk as safety requires more attention and preparation, especially if you’re planning on venturing into mountainous terrain. We spoke to some experts to find out what you need to know.
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Take a tour: snowshoeing and ski touring
Any trail that is tempting in summer is twice as tempting in winter. In places like Rocky Mountain National Park, snowdrifts ripple over meadows and streams babble between shelves of ice. Best of all, the summer crowds have come home leaving plenty of space for snowshoes or cross-country skis.
That loneliness, however, means you’ll be alone in an emergency, says Russell Hunter, co-owner of the Colorado Mountain School tour guide. “So let people know where you are going and when you will be back. and be ready to survive one night. “That means packing additional layers and provisions as well as a headlight,“ because it gets dark early in winter ”.
When it comes to a gentle ski or snowshoe tour, most people don’t think of avalanches, but they can occur anywhere large mountains are covered in snow. According to Hunter, the best advice is to take an avalanche training course such as that offered by his company. However, at the very least, make yourself aware by reading the Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecasts available for the state’s ten different mountainous areas. In a pinch, he says, “Stay away from steep slopes and if you stay on relatively flat ground in the forest, you should be safe.”
Earn Your Trains: Alpine Touring
As with baking your own sourdough, it is undoubtedly satisfying to earn your own backcountry ski and snowboard turns. And from easily accessible terrain passes like Loveland, Vail, or Berthoud to literally hundreds of well-established backcountry zones across the state, there are tons of places in Colorado to seek solitude and pristine powder. If you want to try some of these, all the advice above still applies, but with one major difference: if you want to brighten something and go downhill, avalanche formation is essential. It is not enough to have adequate avalanche safety equipment (beacon, probe and shovel). You also need to know how to use it. Most importantly, you need a basic avalanche awareness and backcountry travel skills.
A great place to build skills is Bluebird Backcountry, an alpine touring resort that opened near Steamboat last year. For the price of a day pass ($ 50), you get access to 1,200 acres of ski-controlled, avalanche-controlled slopes that range from mild to wild. In addition to ski and splitboard rental, Bluebird offers Avy training courses and an introduction to ski touring clinics. “People should know the basics of getting around the backcountry before taking an Avy course,” says co-founder Erik Lambert. “That way, of course, they can focus on decision-making and snow science – not climbing skins.”
Full throttle: snowmobiles
Do you prefer to go deep into the hinterland in a fast sledge? Colorado has great places for that. But, says Jon Miller, who teaches avalanche education for snowmobilers at the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education and is the founder of the Backcountry United Foundation, you don’t do this alone. “Every minute on the gas is an hour’s walk,” Miller says. “Make sure there is someone who can help you if you get stuck or drive you home in the event of a mechanic.” Add radios to your kit. “It’s easy to part quickly with dense trees or blowing snow.”
And as with backcountry skiing, avalanche awareness is a must, even in destinations like Rabbit Ears Pass and Grand Mesa, where well-groomed trail systems largely keep you out of danger. After all, Miller says, you’ll have group consensus on how much you want to get involved with avalanche terrain – sound advice for any winter trip into the backcountry, but doubly important with fast-moving snow machines. “Talk about this before you get to the starting point because once you’re on your machines you’re going to get this eager overdrive and people will be charging everywhere.”
Colorado is a year-round travel destination that offers unparalleled adventure and leisure activities, a rich cultural heritage, tasty cuisine and 28 renowned ski resorts. Colorado is located in the Rocky Mountain region of the USA and offers unparalleled adventure, recreational activities and cultural experiences #ColoradoLive