Powder and Solitude: The trees are it | VailDaily.com

Powder and Solitude: The trees are it

Tom Winter
Special to the Daily/Tom WinterAlthough not every skier can look as good as this guy, there is still a lot of rewarding experiences to be had by skiers and riders proficient enough to hit the trees.

It’s here, on the edges of the resort away from the runs, the tourists and the groomed terrain, where the powder stays fresh for days and you have the mountain to yourself.

The trees let you taste the flavor of the mountains in their pure state.

“It’s always better in the trees,” says pro snowboarder Chris Albers. “The experience is more wild and real. Plus, there’s the snow to consider. If you

like untracked, you’ll eventually find yourself in the trees.”

Albers is right. For skiers and snowboarders with a jones for untracked snow and the ability to take on wilder terrain, trees beckon like a siren on the rocks.

The rules are simple. Always go with a partner and wait until the snow covers the downed logs, rocks and stumps.

The woods can be wonderful, but smash your knee into a sleeper stump just under the snow and you’ll wish you’d never came.

Here’s a sampling of some of Colorado’s best tree skiing. We’d tell you more, but then we’d have to kill you.

“Oh Shit’ – Vail

On the far westernmost side of the resort, O.S. hugs the boundary rope down a steep meadow and then through even steeper aspen glades. It’s always a good bet for powder.

The Chutes – Steamboat

Steep and rugged, the Chutes come into their own during the ‘Boat’s legendary storm days.

The North Face – Crested Butte

In bounds? Out of bounds? The North Face makes you wonder if you’ve inadvertently cut a rope (you’d never do that, right?). It boasts some of the wildest terrain and best steep-tree skiing in the state.

Prospect Bowl – Telluride

One of the most talked about ski area expansions in the history of the Universe, Prospect Bowl actually lives up to the hype. Put it on your “must do” list.

Corona Bowl – Eldora

Only 30 minutes from Boulder, Eldora is home to one of Colorado’s best kept secrets. Corona has steep trees, a couple of avalanche chutes and remains empty during weekday storm cycles.

Hanging Valley – Snowmass

One of the venues for the Colorado Freeride Series and Championships, Hanging Valley offers adrenaline junkies everything from steep straightlines to dead-end cliffs, all liberally sprinkled with trees that shade the snow and offer a natural slalom course.

Spaulding Bowl – Copper Mountain

A wild pitch with some rocks and other technical lines dumps you into sweet tree lines that are a far cry from the bumpy ski runs that most skiers and snowboarders take to the bottom.

Monarch – Monarch

This little ski area gets some of the most snow in the state. There’s rarely any bumps, the tree skiing is killer and they don’t groom much. Any questions?

Tom Winter is a freelance writer based in Vail.

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