'Uphill Skiing' sanctioned at Colo. resort (day pass required)

For $10 you can now ski at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Oh, but forget about the chairlifts. A new policy allows skin-equipped skiers to kick and pole uphill on designated routes.

Why uphill skiing? A Crested Butte press release answers, “With the increases being seen in participation of backcountry and sidecountry skiing, skinning is an important aspect of this movement.”

uphill trail map.jpg

Uphill skiing trail map for Crested Butte Resort, Colo.

More than 100 people a day already do it at Crested Butte. The new policy, initiated last month, was put in place “due to the ever-growing popularity and a desire to grow and embrace ‘fitness skiing,’” the press release states.

A new ski-touring facility, the Scarpa/Ski Trab Demo Center, offers gear for skiers looking to try uphill at Crested Butte. You can rent touring skis, boots and skins.

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Uphill skiing trail sign

Crested Butte offers uphill skiing lessons. With its new policy and gear rental options, the resort hopes to enhance the experience for current uphillers while encouraging new skiers looking to learn the ropes before heading into the backcountry.

Fitness-minded skiers who head uphill for a workout are a big part of the push, too. Dogs are allowed before and after lift operating hours. You can ski uphill during the day without a four-legged friend.

dog with skier.jpg

Dogs allowed on some uphill routes

Wild Snow published a story on the trend, “Crested Butte Leads — Other Ski Resorts Follow on the Uphill.” In the article writer Joe Risi notes “in our opinion Crested Butte is now leading other North American resorts in accommodating the rapidly growing sport of uphill resort skiing in as official and above-board fashion as possible.”

Aspen, Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin, Steamboat, and other Colorado resorts have uphill-skiing policies in place. All over the country, ski touring and backcountry skiing participation is on the rise.

The industry is enthusiastic about the trend. Said Kim Miller, CEO of Scarpa, “Uphill policies and passes are models of innovation among snowsports resorts.”

Miller continued, “Uphill pass holders are able to get to know their gear and how it works in real-world conditions that are more controlled and less risky than backcountry terrain.”

There can be a “bridge formed between safer backcountry travel and uphill pass programs,” noted Kristin Carpenter-Ogden, founder of Verde PR & Consulting, based in Durango, Colo. Verde recently organized a well-attended panel discussion at the SIA show in Denver where resort uphill was among the topics.

Miller added that beyond backcountry connections more skiers now enjoy going uphill for exercise and fun. “The ‘hiking’ facet of the sport is quickly gaining in popularity,” he said.

We see uphill resort skiing as a stepping stone for people looking to learn to ski tour. It can be a great workout. Bring your dog, too, if the resort allows. He already knows the utter joy of blasting uphill, miles at a time, through deep and fluffy white above and beyond.

—Stephen Regenold

uphill track.jpg

Uphill under your own power, just the winter woods and deep snow all around

Posted by Dan - 02/20/2013 03:48 PM

Gee America, welcome to the party. Europe has been doing this for years now. Sheesh.

Posted by urmom - 02/20/2013 03:57 PM

way to steal this from adventurejournal, hacks!

Posted by Pat Smith - 02/21/2013 11:58 AM

My understanding about this “privilege” is that it should be free of charge since most ski areas are leasing Forest Service Land (i.e. what we all OWN as citizens). The uphill tracks were our right to hike as with any Forest Service/BLM trail. Is the fee to add rescue/protection services which are already part of the lease agreement with the U.S. Govt?

Dan, are the ski areas in Europe on public or private land?

Posted by Jan - 02/21/2013 12:48 PM

Pat’s comment is very important. The ability to charge a fee for access to Forest Service Land could set a precedent for all types of access beyond just skiing. If it is clear that there is specific service that skiers that are hiking are paying for, this might be acceptable. Otherwise, back country skiers should not embrace this but instead should uphold their right to use Forest Service Land.

Posted by Erica - 02/21/2013 02:55 PM

Pat and Jan –
Ski areas that operate on Forest Service (FS) lands or other federal lands, typically operate under a Special Use Permit in which there are restrictions for use and access. Access issues could be that the general public is restricted from driving private vehicles or snowmobiles within the permit boundary for obvious safety concerns. In the case of uphill skiing, CBMR purposely practices the term Uphill Use, because the skier, hiker, snowshoer is using the facilities and amenities of the ski area. At CBMR, uphill use is allowed only on groomed runs with the exception of a small section of terrain on the All-Day route. This is primarily due to safety issues of skinning/descending in the early morning and late evening, which hazards from ski area operations and natural conditions can occur and typically the visibility is diminished. Most groomed runs at CBMR are a product of our snowmaking system, especially in the early season and groomed nightly; both of these ski area operations are an expense to the resort and provide an expected quality experience if you choose to skin at a ski area. However, CBMR does offer a free option within our permit boundary on Snodgrass Mountain. We groom the road to the peak of Snodgrass Mountain sporadically and the access to skin up the road and descend is open to the public 24/7. In addition, CBMR does provide limited ski patrol personnel for uphill use prior to and after normal ski area operations.

I hope that helps clarify. Thanks for sharing your concerns,
Erica

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