Skinning in Summit County
There is no doubt that uphill skiing has become all the rage within the past couple of years. Between light-hearted touring, ski mountaineering (Ski-mo) and aggressive back country for pow stashes, the lot of locals and new comers all seem to take a slight interest in this activity. We’d like to start off by saying, ANYTIME you go into the back country please be prepared. Check the CAIC website for avalanche safety and if you heir on the “more extreme” side of things, we highly recommend at LEAST completing an AIARE Avalanche Level 1 course which teaches you how to make calculated decisions in avalanche terrain.
OK! Now let’s get to the fun stuff. Here are some fun ways (and places) to get outside in the fresh air and NOT have to wait in lift lines.
Grab a group of friends, spend some time outside, sleep in a “cabin in the woods” and possibly experience some all-time skiing around the area. Hut trips can be as demanding or as lax as you make them, but getting out into the wilderness and “unplugged” for a night or two hasn’t seemed to do many people harm these days. Check out these two organizations below that offer huts around Summit County and beyond. Locals note: Book in advance. These huts gets booked 8-10 months prior so if you know which hut you’d like, get on top of it!
Summit Huts was designed and created to provide meaningful backcountry experience for self-propelled mountain recreational users. Currently there are four huts within the system; Francie’s Cabin, Janet’s Cabin, Section House and Ken’s Cabin. These are located within Breckenridge. Francie’s Cabin is one of the most popular huts in Colorado, featuring a kitchen, sauna and solar powered lights. Although there CAN be some exceptional skiing in the areas surrounding these cabins, they are also very good options to just get out and experience something different for a night or two.
Mike from Summit Huts recently took some TV guys up to Francie’s Cabin. This was great exposure for Summit Huts and includes some awesome interviews with the kids who were staying up at the hut at the time. Check out the video here.
Stuff can get real now. With options around Summit County (and very much beyond), the 10th Mountain Division is a non-profit organization that manages 34 backcountry huts in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The 10th Mountain Division honors men of the U.S. Army who trained during World War II at Camp Hale in central Colorado.
This website gives you tons of resources on how to plan your hut trip, family and kids trips as well as how to make your reservation. Plus tutorials on hut set up and hut clean up. Each hut has tons of information including both winter and summer routes and trailheads, hut location, layout capacity and much more.
For more huts not listed by either of these organizations, click here.
“Safe” day tour areas
We use quotes around “safe” because you never know what can happen in the backcountry. You need to always be prepared. Below are three recommendations we offer for new, less experienced OR for people who are just looking to get their exercise on and maybe run your pooch. Please advise that in no way are we condoning that you go out blind. Please do your research before entering ANY backcountry terrain.
Bald Mountain – A most popular scene, this low angle, long approach is great for getting out with friends and the dogs. The path is clear and there is not much avy danger to be concerned. About a 4-mile round trip ski will get you high enough to link some decent turns together, and you honestly can’t beat the view.
Ken’s Cabin / Section House – see above for more information under Summit Huts.
Your favorite Epic Pass Resort – Most resorts offer up hill access prior to lifts turning and after hours. Check your local resort for up hill access, routes and information to stay safe. Pow can be nice but there is also something sweet about getting first tracks on freshly groomed corduroy!
More “extreme” day trips
Like above: Please do your research before entering ANY backcountry terrain.
Loveland pass – Although no formal reading on what is offered off of Loveland Pass, there are plenty of trip reports and wise words of wisdom from skiers past. The nice option about Lovelandd pass… hitchhiking and shuttling is available. While uphill access is still also an option, this is a great way to get out into some fresh snow with without the work of skinning. Check out some literacy below:
East Vail – Also known as EV and also known for avalanche danger and the lives of some, when the conditions are right, the skiing is too. We suggest going with a local, someone who knows the area and following their instructions. There is a vast area of chutes so you may not end up as close as you think. (Defer to your local here). Not much information out on the web, so talk to people and google pictures to get a general idea of the expansiveness of the chutes.
Mt. Guyot – Also a long approach. Mt. Guyot has some lines for fantastic skiing. The Northwest Slope is a fun ski when conditions are RIGHT. Not a far drive if you are staying in Breckenridge, this trailhead and route can also just be a fun tour, hike, or snowshoe.
The days are getting longer. It’s starting to get a little warmer. Birds and other animals that haven’t been seen too much in the last few months are starting to make their way back from their various winter haunts and people across the country are counting down the days until that one precious week in March when schools see fit to cut the children loose. That glorious week also known as spring break is almost here. It’s a time to get away, step out from the busy lives that each of us leads and let go for a week. For those coming to Breckenridge to shred, March is a great time to let it out and throw down just a little bit. Here are some ideas on how to fill your nights (and days) this Spring Break in Breckenridge.
Party: Isn’t partying what spring break is all about? In a one-mile stretch of town Breckenridge there are a lot of restaurants and bars, almost 100 in fact. There is no shortage of places to go for a meal, drink, entertainment and plain old good times. From Apres’ to late night, Breckenridge has a spot for everyone. Almost every night in March there is live music, trivia games, comedy, killer deals and plain good times. A great resource for finding the best deals and events in the local restaurants and bars is imnotatwork.com. Check it out and start planning your good times now.
Relax: Spending all day slaying powder is hard work and weather you decide to rip some turns or not there is nothing better than a massage, body wrap or any spa treatment to ease achy muscles and recharge a tired spirit. There are many spas all over Breckenridge so these is no shortage of different types of massages and spa treatments. Check out our recent blog on spas in Breckenridge for some great spa options in town.
Music and Arts: One of the coolest things that Breckenridge has done in the past few years is ramp up town’s cultural offerings including the creation of the Breckenridge Arts District or CreateBreck.org. Breckenridge has the second largest arts district in Colorado and Breck Create has done some very good work to bring in a variety of performing acts that span from rock bands to art exhibits to events. This March events such as the Banff Mountain Film Festival and bands like Donovan Frankenreiter, Comedy performances like Sandra Bernhard and much more are on tap. Click here to see the full lineup of events produced by Create Breck.
Try something besides skiing: Spring is still winter in Breckenridge and skiing is why it is so popular here in March. Of popularity comes with a price and that can be crowded slopes especially in March. Of course regardless of the crowds, you should ski and ski a lot! But consider taking a day to try a different winter activity like dog sledding, snowmobiling or cross country skiing. All of these activities are perfect to try in Breckenridge. Here is a great blog on things to in Breck without skis.
March is a fantastic time to visit Breckenridge. It is a time when everything is open and town is clicking on all cylinders. Spring Breakers rejoice! There is so much to do in Breckenridge. In fact we wrote a blog all about that. Here are 100 things to do in Breckenridge this winter.
Don’t’ forget if you haven’t booked lodging for you Breckenridge spring break adventure yet visit http://www.breckenridgediscountlodging.com/.
“Powder days are alright” – said no one, ever. Usually, when you ask someone about a pow day they respond with sheer elation; bubbling with excitement and bursting with a fiery passion. The perfect powder day is the ‘holy grail’ for skiers and riders. It’s something we dream of, chase after, and long for… but is rarely attained. When you finally get that perfect powder day, you feel frozen in a state of absolute euphoria. THIS is why we ski. Floating on freshies without a care in the world, smiling so big that your cheeks hurt; nothing else matters in this moment… and you couldn’t be happier.
We asked some of our co-workers and Breck locals about their ultimate powder day stories, and this is what they had to say:
“It was a solo mission and no one was in the lift lines… I think I played hooky from work this morning 😉 Snow was soft, fluffy and DEEP.” – Stefanie Van Der Kar, Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Check out her video of the day below!
“I got a snow cat trip to Keystone for Christmas. We just happened to hit it on a 24+ inch powder day and spent all day slaying untracked powder in Erikson Bowl. Snorkels were required.” – Mark Grattan, Keystone Ski Resort.
“After 25 inches of fresh powder, my friends and I hiked to the top of Peak 8 and hucked off this cliff into 5 ft. deep powder!!” – Glenn Brady, Breckenridge Ski Resort.
“It was my 1st year here in Breck (2014), It was a late February snow storm that started early morning and continued throughout the day. I was riding up Kensho SuperChair when the snow started dumping, I could barely see the chair directly in front of me. Just the way I like it. The first run on Peak 6 was knee deep powder on ‘Wonderland’ and that was just the beginning of this adventure. Not being extremely familiar with the terrain, today was my day for exploration. From surfing the back bowls, to slashing waste deep powder in the trees, this was by far the best powder I have experienced in a long time!!” – Joe Demma, Breckenridge Ski Resort.
“My favorite powder day was when the snow was so fluffy and deep and the day was just beautiful and bright, making my own lines through the trees, following friends down to the lodge for Apres. A perfect power day!” – Iris Bradford, Breckenridge Ski Resort.
“The best pow day I’ve ever had (among many) has to be at Copper Mountain in April of 2015. It was my Birthday.
The season had already been absolutely amazing with terrain opening up at mountains that I had never even known about because there was so much snow, and honestly, we were ready for it to wind down. We were ready for mountain biking, hiking, camping, and warm weather. We were ready for summer.
But then about a week before, we started seeing reports of a storm that might roll through. A foot or more they said. We thought, “Yeah, right. In the middle of April?” Nah. But of course if there was skiing to be had, and with my birthday coming up we made plans to shred with a crew on what could be the last pow day of the season. It didn’t disappoint.
TWO FEET of fresh snow fell overnight and we were ready. First tracks through 17 Glade, Star Wars Trees, Gold Digger Trees, Upper Enchanted Forest, and Resolution Bowl. They were all ours and we took them grinning from ear to ear open to close.
And to cap it all off, Vail just happened to be doing their ‘end of season, free concert series’ and my favorite band, ‘Portugal. The Man’ was playing. So naturally we went over the pass for some outstanding live music. Best Pow Day and Best Birthday. Doesn’t get much better.” – Rob Bennett, Copper Mountain
Epic Story Spotlight:
“I have been snowboarding for a little over 20 years, so you can say I have had a few “favorite pow days”, BUT I will go with the most recent that took place last Saturday 12/17/16.
Friday night… The storm was fierce. Snow came down from the heavens and covered the resort and town in a deep white blanket of joy. Giddy with anticipation, like a child on Christmas Eve I laid out my outwear, boots, hat gloves, etc. for the next day.
Saturday morning came around and I made myself a full complete breakfast before catching the yellow bus to Beaver Run. Word on the street was that I-70 had closed and that the resort would be a bit less crowded than normal for a Saturday.
Catching first chair over at Beaver Run was easier than expected. Myself and my buddy Gram took a tree run next to ‘American’ to start out our day. The snow was deep, and it was a blower. The next run we took was Mercury Chair and decided to take the Hollywood run under the ‘E-Chair’. The E- Chair was not yet running… this lead to a run full of slashes on untouched steeper terrain that resulted in big smiles and high fives. The cat track back to 9 was even better. We found a few side hits on the trail and cruised back to Copper Top bar.
After a quick beer we decided to head back out to Peak 9. We took some more tree runs and found some tree jibs that had not yet been touched. The snow was still deep and we continued to lap without waiting in a lift line throughout the day.
We called it quits around 1:00pm and retired for Tacos and Coco.
Days like these keep me in Summit. These are the days we live for.” – Joe DeStefano, Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Tell us about your ultimate powder day!
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