Backcountry gear is scarce as skiers hedge against another disrupted downhill season |

Backcountry gear is scarce as skiers hedge against another disrupted downhill season

Sam Wheelock, of Golden, from left, Kelly Dohn, and Jazz Allen-Perkal skin uphill in the backcountry on Friday March, 20, 2020, near Georgetown, CO. Many more skiers and snowboarders are opting for uphilling equipment to keep skiing in the backcountry and on ski resorts without chairlifts running.
Hugh Carey, Special to The Colorado Sun

Sarah Hay arrived in Aspen in March, only to find resorts dormant. She tried hiking up Aspen Mountain with her snowboard, but didn’t make it far.

This season, she’s ready.

She was at the Cripple Creek Backcountry gear shop in Aspen Highlands recently when she heard the manager say they were down to just one splitboard, a snowboard that splits into two wide skis for skinning uphill.

“He said it probably wasn’t going to be around for long and I just pulled out my credit card,” said Hay, who is scheduled to take an avalanche safety course before venturing out on her Jones Dreamcatcher splitboard. “I just feel lucky I was able to get a set up. It’s my insurance. Just in case everything goes to s*** again, I’m super psyched to have a way to get out and explore the mountains.”

Uphilling newcomers like Hay — who came to Aspen from Amsterdam — are driving spectacular growth in backcountry sales this fall and early winter. Early sales figures from The NPD Group, which tracks retail sales from 600,000 stores and websites, show backcountry sales from August through October pacing 76% ahead of the same period last year. Sales of snowshoes, split boards, Nordic skis, backcountry accessories and alpine touring equipment in the first three months of the winter buying season have already eclipsed total sales from the 2019-20 ski season.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

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