Uphill travel – the booming trend in ski culture
Uphill travel has exploded in popularity throughout the last several years. The feeling of “earning your turns” has people venturing out of the traditional ski resort and self-propelling themselves up a mountain using skins on skis or a splitboard.
Though, with the added traffic comes more risk. Many people are venturing into the backcountry while unaware of the risks associated with it.
To address the recent influx, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center has adopted the term “Know Before You Go.” This saying is invaluable as it points out there is a lot that can go wrong, way beyond what you might think. So, how are you prepared?
A few basic tips…
First, wearing a beacon is most important. Carrying a probe and shovel is also essential for any backcountry outing.
Yet, just wearing these pieces of equipment will not save you. Knowing how to use them and practicing regularly is essential. Basically, they aren’t useful at all without the proper knowledge.
The same goes for any person in your party without the proper gear or the knowledge on how to use it. They could be useless at a time when you’re depending on them.
Second, be informed. Checking the CAIC website or app daily will fully ensure you have the most up-to-date report on avalanche conditions around the state, whatever zone you’re in. The more you know, the better.
Lastly, safety in numbers. Always bring a friend who can dig you out.
Go uphill, inbounds at a ski resort
Skinning and splitboarding have also become more popular on resort properties. This is a great way to access the resort before people have a chance to ride the lifts. Yet, as uphill travel becomes more popular, rules and regulations will only get tighter.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area recently announced they are now charging for uphill access, something that used to be free. This comes from the result of nearly 10,000 people applying for an uphill pass when it was thought only a few hundred would be interested. This number is staggering.
Locally, Vail Resorts lists their uphill policy on their website. Uphill users can also call 970-754-3049 for Vail and 970-754-5907 for Beaver Creek to get the most up-to-date information.
Basic rule of thumb: If any work or activity is happening on a particular run, it’s closed. Especially if a red blinking light is flashing, turn around; it’s a winch cat operation going on. I’m going to assume you value your head.
Vail Daily photographer Chris Dillmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Folllow him on Instagram @cameraone.