Crested Butte Uphill Skiing — Public Meeting


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Lou and Ethan, uphilling at CBMR

Myself and Crested Butte Mountain Resort's Ethan Mueller discuss skiing without ski lifts while doing so.

It’s 6:30 in the morning, dark, and I’m freezing at five degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

Joe and I are at Mount Crested Butte ski resort today, Colorado, USA. We drove over from the WildSnow home village to partake in their uphilling culture — and attend a public meeting for feedback on the resort developing an uphill traffic policy. Turns out the Forest Service needs that policy finalized in a few weeks, so the fire is lit.

We could have simply attended the meeting, but this is WildSnow where experience is the rule. So we rally for an uphill session. As is common with U.S. resorts, CBMR doesn’t allow uphill traffic while the lifts are running. Thus, an entrenched culture of earlybird (and evening) skinners has developed.

Yeah, it’s cold. Luckily we only wait a few minutes for our meeting with Ethan Mueller, General Manager of the resort and progeny of the resort owners. Shortly after that a bigger crew develops that includes mountain biker attorneys, skinny rando racers, the mayor of Crested butte, and assorted other nefarious individuals who could have only achieved their exalted societal status by living in a place where 30 miles of single track a day is as important as how full their appointment book is.

Uphilling at resorts is fun. You can diss it for not being “backcountry skiing,” and lean on me for simply slogging up some groom and skiing down. But with no avy danger, no backpack and a ski patrol at the ready, the sport lends itself to being a nice cardio workout with friends, significant others, etc. Low stress. I wouldn’t make resort uphilling my primary recreation, but hey — it’s all skiing.

Check out the view.

Check out the view.

As the sun rises behind us on the Elk Mountains, Ethan shows me where they’re proposing an all-day uphill route. He also points out how the route we’re on (a mellow groomer) may be designated the dog-allowed route (not used during operating hours).

The possible all-hours uphilling route is a bit short at something like 1,100 vert, but ends at the essential on-mountain food service where all uphilling routes should always go, and has the potential for extension. I’m thinking once you got used to doing a few laps, the all-day trail will easily be a quality workout as well as good practice for transitions.

Uphill skiing meeting at Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Public 'uphilling' meet after our morning ski. About 30 people showed up. The guy in blue to the right is resort GM Ethan Mueller.

The dog issue is tougher. After our morning on the groom, we gather for a public meeting so resort management can gather feedback on their proposed uphilling policies. About 30 people show up — with at least 11 dogs. During the discussion we counted two dog fights, along with plenty of growling, dogs bumping your legs, and so on. What is it with these folks and their dogs? Is it something in the Crested Butte water that makes you acquire a medium to large sized canine as soon as you move there?

Whatever the cultural reasons for the Crested Buttes dog population, it is indeed an issue. During the meeting on-mountain staff spoke about how many truly close calls they’ve had with hitting dogs. They’re not the only ones with a problem. Over here in the Aspen area, while skiing down the resort after an uphill, twice I’ve had to beat off dogs with my ski poles in defense of life and limb. Lisa has actually been bitten, torn pants to prove it.

Only in Crested Butte would dogs dominate a public meeting.

Only in Crested Butte would dogs dominate a public meeting. I have to admit, I got a laugh out of this. The resort management has their work cut out for them if they're going to accommodate having pets doing their uphill routes.

Problem is that even a dog under voice control is still ranging around. A snowmobile or ripping skier comes around a corner, the dog moves out of the bushes on the side of the trail — instant recipe for disaster. Mandatory leashes would solve most of the problem (along with mandatory poo pickup), but leashes are culturally difficult and don’t work well while on the downhill. Thus, the solution of one route designated for dogs sounds doable. On-mountain staff would know where all the dogs are; skiers without dogs would know where the canines are on the mountain and and use other routes to avoid toothy encounters.

John Norton, well known in the ski resort industry for his top management positions.

John Norton was at the meeting, well known in the ski resort industry for his former top management positions with both Aspen and Crested Butte. Norton uphills with his dog, and had some good points about how important it is to get the canine issue handled.

The biggest take-home for me was hearing the CBMR mountain operations guy talk about how impractical it is to have recreational skiers using the whole mountain 24/7. Snowmaking and grooming operations do not blend well with skiers ranging around the mountain after-hours, sometimes in the dark. Best example he had was their winch cat. Three thousand (yes, 3,000) feet of cable, sometimes buried in the snow and hidden, with 8,000 pounds of weight stretching it taut as a bowstring. If that cable whips and you’re there, it’s like being hit by a gigantic steel bar and causes instant bodily discorporation. In other words, you end up in pieces. Or you might survive being clotheslined if the cable rises up out of the snow just as you’re skiing down where it was hidden on the way up. Living through that is unlikely of course, but I’m trying to be optimistic.

A few other points that received attention:

- Mountain Safety director Frank Coffee explained how they only need to close the upper mountain to off-hours uphilling for 10 to 13 mornings a year due to avalanche control and danger. But how to communicate that to people is the crux. The easy way out is to just keep those upper areas closed to uphilling all the time. Some folks at the meeting expressed concern about that, while others didn’t seem to care. The route we’d just uphilled that morning turned around before the avalanche zones and was totally adequate for a cardio session, but I could see how getting up higher on the resort and dropping a steeper run could add interest to the somewhat dull grind up the groom.

- It sounds like CBMR probably _will_ charge money for uphilling. This is revolutionary for a North American resort and a rather bold move. The logic is sound. The resort provides snow making, grooming, safety etc. We pay our fair share for it. Last time I looked those things were also why they sold lift tickets. So on the face of it I can’t disagree.

On the other hand, I’d certainly like to see all resorts keep uphilling free (as in Europe) and be happy with the revenue from food service that uphillers pay for, both on the mountain and at the base facility.

The fee issue becomes complex because, according to Ethan and other management I spoke with, rather than making money off uphilling the small fee CBMR may charge uphillers is more about creating an awareness in the uphilling public that the resort has a product that costs them money to create, and we are receiving the use of it. (The amount won’t be large, and will be included in your lift ticket or season pass. A yearly uphilling pass will be sold; $75 was thrown out there. Daily uphilling tickets will be available as well, but included in a comprehensive demo program sponsored by Scarpa/Ski Trab.)

Again, while I can’t argue against CBMR’s reasoning behind charging money for uphilling, I’d like to see them forget it for now and find better ways to create awareness (and eventually, revenue, as this is a business after all).

My biggest takeaway from this? Fee or no fee, by establishing a designated all-day uphilling route, with food and bathroom amenities at both top and bottom, CBMR is providing something special that will become incredibly popular. Add effective dog control on top of that, and watch uphilling grow huge at CBMR.

(One other note: CBMR’s special use permit area encompasses a mountain called Snodgrass where they’d proposed building more lifts but were denied by the Forest Service. Snodgrass is still in the resort permit area and CBMR can utilize it for recreation — just not with lifts. Muller and CBMR Mountain Planner John Sale tell me they’re looking seriously at developing Snodgrass as a human powered skiing experience. Full service hut on top, glading of runs, and so forth. Beyond their having an all-day uphill route on their main mountain, would this be forward thinking or what? Exciting stuff.)

Comments

43 Responses to “Crested Butte Uphill Skiing — Public Meeting”

  1. Lucas December 13th, 2012 9:01 am

    “What is it with these folks and their dogs?”

    Wait til ya’ show up w/ your dog on a leash….I get some nasty little looks sometimes. I’ve even had one lady tell me, “Dogs really prefer not to be on a leash.” Really? I’d prefer to drink beer and spend time in the backcountry 24/7…..but ya’ know what…..

  2. Kane December 13th, 2012 9:23 am

    Seems to me like CBMR is doing a pretty good job of trying to address several relevant issues – light years ahead of most resorts in the East. Then you throw in “what about my dog?” Even as a dog owner I can’t help but laugh… The liability for the resort is just to high and pushing the issue will just spoil the development of uphill policies. Take one for the team dog owners, leave Fido at home.

  3. Lou Dawson December 13th, 2012 9:46 am

    Kane, only in Crested Butte would they even be considering a “dogs only” route. in such seriousness But whatever, it’s a unique place and very cool because it’s unique — though the emphasis on dogs seemed a little weird to an outsider.

  4. Brian December 13th, 2012 10:00 am

    I do not yield to dogs on bike rides, ski tours, etc., when they get in the way. And when their owners try to give me a hard time about it, i give it back and keep going.

    Leave the turd machines in the car when at the resort and don’t infringe on other people’s good time.

  5. Jack December 13th, 2012 10:53 am

    Sounds like Heaven. Fitness laps on 1100 vert. ft. Pick your number of laps. Shelter, food, beverage at the top. Nominal fees and controls to keep the herd within the limits prescribed by ski resort safety and the desire to preserve long-term use.

    Not much to complain about here except minor details.

  6. Joe December 13th, 2012 11:10 am

    Brian, it doesn’t seem you yield to much of anything except Brian. I’ll mention your comments to the SAR and their rescue turd machine’s. Thanks for the constructive input.

  7. Jane December 13th, 2012 2:10 pm

    I have been bit and pants torn by the light colored dog in the photo to name one. 99% of the dogs out there are fine it’s the same few that chase you and you have to beat them with a ski pole to save your gear and or a ski ending injury, I have a dog and he loves the uphill but he is well behaved but for the same few dogs that chase skiers leave them at home or leash them.

  8. Caspar December 13th, 2012 2:22 pm

    A human powered ski experience. Awesome! They should do that somewhere here in Europe!

  9. keith December 13th, 2012 2:31 pm

    i like dogs, have 2, but if you make a dog route, it will likely end up like a dog park. which may be ok on the up but too chaotic for the down. plus there is no way every owner will see or control every pee or dump of their dog. I like seeing a few dogs out there but if an area is designated as a dog route you will have every dog of every local and visitor.. thats just my 2 cent prediction ….only one way to know for sure what would happen and that is JUST DO IT

  10. Cameron Millard December 13th, 2012 2:34 pm

    What will this mean for the development of a CB Avalanche Cats program?

    All kidding aside, I was bitten by a dog while skinning at Keystone. (Actually going downhill – the dog chased and bit me). I then watched the dog try to bite a snowmaker on a snowmobile. The owner was apologetic but I can’t help but wonder what the hell he was thinking.

    I like dogs, but I refuse to ski-tour with them after witnessing a dog-fight on a knife edge above a three hundred foot cliff. Not to mention the curve ball to avalanche assessment a do can add to the group.

    As far as uphilling at ski areas, I’d welcome the ability to do it during the day time but am content with early mornings. If a trail is being serviced with a winch-cat, why not mark that trail at the bottom?

  11. Jack December 13th, 2012 2:51 pm

    Dogs chasing bikes (road bikes) is an area where I have plenty of experience. Usually the dog doesn’t recognize a cyclist as a human being, just a prey animal and will chase the cyclist. In every case (but one), when I stop the bike and stand by it, the dog decides I’m a person and becomes a Good Dog. I bet the same behavior is triggered by skiers on the downhill. (the exception was a junkyard mean Doberman in N. Carolina who I stood off (Mexican style) with my bike frame – scary – the animal really wanted to hurt me).

  12. Chris December 13th, 2012 2:57 pm

    The bottom line is that dogs do not have rights that trump people or other animals. I’ve seen too many cases of dogs biting people, biting other dogs, dog fights, chasing wildlife, and tied up and barking by people who have no control of their dogs. Do them a favor and leave the dogs at home. Better yet, take your dog out by itself and away from other people and animals to recreate.

  13. Cindy December 13th, 2012 3:18 pm

    Hmmm……we call skiing with your dog “skijoring” in XC world and it works just fine. You get a lead that has a bungee section, a harness for the dog, and a waist belt for you. Voila…and no dog bites

  14. Tina December 13th, 2012 3:21 pm

    As a person with a dog that has never chased/bit/fought in her life, it took me hours and hours of training to make her obedient so that I could bring her on my adventures and not get in the way of other people’s enjoyment. I think dogs should be allowed but just have a one strike rule. Your dog (or you) does something stupid, canine (or you) is out. Assess a fee/ticket if you have to. Totally unacceptable that dogs that have bitten people are not leashed… I don’t know what the owner(s) is thinking but the whole point is to have FUN while skiing. If you’re ruining that opportunity for someone else that’s just not cool.

    In regards to paying for uphill, maybe I’m a purist but I’d rather have the land just be forest service (no development) than to have a giant ski area, in which case I wouldn’t have to pay a fee. Clearly the development is there to stay, but what makes me any different from a hiker enjoying a trail? If a hiker wants to hike on CBSA land in the summer, will they charge them then? Let us support the mountain with buying food or a (very small) fee, but I feel that even $75 is a lot for simply recreating on public lands (with a private lease).

    And Brian, if there were areas where I could “take my dog out by myself away from other people and animals” I would, but even in Colorado it’s getting more and more tough to find open spaces to enjoy with a dog, especially near towns. So we all have to find a way to get along.

  15. AD December 13th, 2012 4:06 pm

    As a ski patroller at Snow King, I’ve got some strong opinions about uphill travel and dogs at ski areas.

    Folks have been pretty good about leaving their dogs at home during operating hours (sorta– I’ve carried two unruly dogs down in 3 years), but not so great about picking up the poop. One day last March, I spent an hour scooping two fifty-gallon drum sized trash bags full of poop just at the base of the Summit lift alone. This is unacceptable and unsanitary. Even with free Mutt Mitt stations at the base and a few responsible owners who make a solid effort, the problem has not been resolved. I love dogs, but they don’t belong at Snow King.

    Patrollers have to deal with pee-soaked tower pads, race crew workers and coaches have to deal with poop-smeared rolls of safety B-net. Just think about it… your kid crashes into the net, has poop in his wounds, which get infected, and the patrollers treating the injured racer smell like dog crap for the rest of the day. It’s not ok.

    As for winch cables– yes, they will cut you in half and are nearly impossible to see, especially at night. You’d be an idiot to get near one, much less step over or under one (which I’ve seen too many times). It’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed.

    We have designated uphill routes, but not everyone knows about them and even those who do sometimes ignore them. the King is a racers’ mountain and people go fast over blind rollers. Use common sense.

    And last but not least, I see people skinning up the upper mountain on control mornings. Would you skin up Rendezvous bowl when the Village is bombing? Of course not! Get it out of your head that it’s “just Snow King”– there are dangers here as much as any other mountain.

  16. OMR December 13th, 2012 4:37 pm

    Lou, apologies for my earlier ‘dis’ for skinning groomers. I can see your point. . . and the benefits. When I was young(er), and mountain biking was still fairly new, we’d ride the groomers at Alta at night. The cat drivers would scream at us (like they still scream at snowboarders who drop in from Snowbird) but it was a great workout, fun to ride on packed Alta powder, and the inevitable crashes didn’t hurt too bad.

  17. Lou Dawson December 13th, 2012 5:06 pm

    Tina, good points, but what you and a lot of others don’t get about uphilling resorts in poor snow climate regions such as Colorado is that one reason it’s so popular is because the resort makes and farms snow, which makes for decent skiing. Reliable, decent skiing when all the natural snow either doesn’t exist or is tough to and/or dangerous. Thus, when we’re resort uphilling we really are intentionally using the resorts product, which is rather expensive to produce.

    If a person doesn’t want to use that product, they can indeed go elsewhere and they do. But for people who love skiing, its very attractive to climb a resort when things are not so great out in the natural.

    The way to look at it is that resort uphilling is just another style of skiing a resort. It can even be backcountry skiing if the resort is closed, or the uphill is used to access sidecountry terrain.

  18. aaron trowbridge December 13th, 2012 5:08 pm

    If you are interested a ‘enhanced’ back country human powered skiing experience take a look at this recent article in Offpiste about the Hankin-Evelyn Backcountry Ski Area in Smithers BC:

    http://www.bbss.ca/docs/offpistemag_hankin.pdf

    Also:
    http://www.bbss.ca/docs/Skiing_off_the_grid_in_BCThe_
    Globe_and_Mail.pdf

    https://sites.google.com/site/bbskisociety/hankin

    Avalanche hazard mapping for the project:
    http://www.avalanche.ca/uploads/trip-planner/kmz/route/Cabin%20Rolls.kmz

  19. aaron trowbridge December 13th, 2012 5:10 pm

    Excuse my grammar, missed ‘interested *in an*”

  20. Rick December 13th, 2012 5:13 pm

    I think it’s great that CBMR is trying to both expand and get a handle on the uphill skiing. Charging non passholders seems fair considering it costs to maintain the trails (and this year make the snow for them). If I want free uphill there are zillions of acres around to break trail and ski free.

    The dogs are going to be a challenge. Uphill, not so much but fast descending skiers and unleashed dogs is not a good combo.

    Kudos to CBMR for trying to expand it. (and for listening to those who use it)

  21. aaron trowbridge December 13th, 2012 5:13 pm
  22. Phil Miller December 13th, 2012 5:31 pm

    Uphilling fees should be commensurate with XC trail fees at other human powered, groomed, patrolled ski areas. I don’t really see much of a difference on that, only the terrain is different.
    Dog trails and Dogs: keep the dogs in a concentrated enough area where other dog owners would enforce policies. Opening it to the whole resort is asking for trouble. On-leash rules need to apply. And racing trails and dogs don’t mix, for all the reasons AD gave above, and then some. But Alpine racing and uphilling aren’t natural allies anyway; equipment requirements are at complete odds, and race-training depends on a number of downhill runs to hone the gate-running line. Uphill skiing is great for conditioning, but its a different thing…
    Closed trails are closed trails. Mark ‘em uphill as you would downhill, and enforce them alike. With electronic signage telling you what’s open and closed, its no big deal.
    The big excitement for me would be opening this Snodgrass area. Groom the uphill tracks in the morning, and then minimal grooming on the downhill as it gets too chopped up. Leave some of the down-trails like they use to before grooming became so mandatory. Leave the mogul fields. Leave the crud and the mank. Leave some wild snow for those with the old-school chops to get after it.

  23. Lou Dawson December 13th, 2012 5:45 pm

    Phil, it really does sound like they’ll be doing something with Snodgrass. We spoke at length about them building a hut on top, with lodging and meal service, and essentially making their permit area into a lift-less human powered resort.

  24. Don Kurtz December 13th, 2012 8:17 pm
  25. Scott Nelson December 13th, 2012 8:45 pm

    Always an interesting topic Lou, and definitely relevant for our areas around Aspen. I keep waiting for things to become more restrictive around here regarding uphilling, but so far so good in my opinion. I’ve always said this but I’m really grateful that we have the option to skin up at the local resorts. It’s a great amenity for us who don’t have a lot of time to do it in the backcountry like we’d want on a regular basis.

    Funny how most of the comments centered around dogs. I’m a little biased after being viciously attacked while I was running last summer, by someone’s known to be dangerous unleashed dog. But at least the leash was draped around the owner’s neck, just in case….

    The mentality of some dog owners is rather comical, really quite clueless. Just keep in mind that if you are ever bitten by someone’s dog you have legal rights as a victim (at least in Colorado), and my advice, use them. Unfortunately, that seems the only way to get a dog owner to pay attention to, realize and exercise their responsibility as an owner, as well as helping them understand the consequences if they fail to do so, of which they will have to face if you the victim take action. So if you love you’re dog, just keep it leashed and under control. It’s easy and it costs way less than the alternative.

  26. Brian December 14th, 2012 8:10 am

    Joe
    I go out of my way to play nice with just about everyone. One group that gets under my skin is the dog owners group, however. Enough of them (not all) feel they are entitled to share any and all trails without the burden of controlling their animals. Its BS. Thats why I say I do not yield to dogs on the trail. Having said this, I would never intentionally hurt anyone or any thing while riding/skiing/etc.

    Dogs do not belong at the resort mountain from a liability standpoint. I feel that taking our dogs out for a ski or ride is one of the reasons that we go to the BC in the first place. And it has been my experience that dogs that spend time in the BC typically have owners who have trained them adequately to not be a hazard.

  27. Ukrainian December 14th, 2012 8:12 am

    w00t, paying for uphill?

    NO
    WAY.

  28. JonesRU December 14th, 2012 8:38 am

    If you’re within the ski area legal boundaries, you should be a pass-holder. It’s that simple due to lawyers and the clowns and their families who like to sue them. I do not want to be on patrol and dealing with whom I’ll refer to as “Free Spirits”…whom invariably cause friction, get in the way and/or get into trouble with mother nature and legit passholders….all of whom will try to sue me and my employer for anything short of superhuman perfection, foresight and reactions in emergency situations. If the ski resort wants to have a reduced rate for uphillers, great, but it’s their choice. All of the whiners who want free access should drop the hash pipes, get off the couch (or for the other half, quit your blogging and strokin’ it over your new $4k+ investment in 1600 grams of euro glory on each leg contemplated by a technicolor condom-suit) and then look into just what it takes to purchase a mountain or get a Special Use Permit from the unmotivated FEDGOV slackjaws who populate the Forest Service….and then just buy a ski pass and let the pros do the thinking while you get your uphill fix. Regarding the dogs…and as much as we all love them, unless you’re disabled and it’s a service dog, leave Fido at home.

  29. Ali E December 14th, 2012 9:51 am

    I’m so glad I live in a country where no one can tell me where I can or cannot roam: Scotland.

  30. Crazy Horse December 14th, 2012 2:53 pm

    I like dogs and have found that when I’m hiking we always get along great, even when the strange dog is of a breed (like a Doberman) that tends to be viewed as threatening. Dogs have incredible olfactory sensitivity, and can readily sense whether the person they are approaching is fearful or non threatening and friendly. I usually hold my hand out, palm forward at nose level and they key on that gesture to receive the clues that will determine their behavior. The only problems I have had while hiking have been with the toy yapp dog variety, the kind with pink ribbons around their collar. Amazing how far one will fly when you catch it with a hiking boot in the mid-section after it nipped at your heels.

    Long ago dogs made a bargain with humans when they came in beyond the outer ring of the campfire. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you! When a dog bites a person they should either be immediately shot, or spend the rest of their life at home fenced in or on a leash. One strike and you are out.

    Mount a bicycle (or a pair of skis) and the situation gets re-defined, and dog behavior changes to the attack/chase mode. I live in grizzly country, so bear spray lives right alongside the water bottle. Any aggressive animal behavior, be it moose, bear, or dog means it will be put to use. After being attacked by individual animals and by a pack while road biking I make it a point to stop and spray any persistent pursuer. Every time I ride by the home of a pitt bull who was my former nemesis it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to watch him cower under the porch of his single-wide trailer home.

  31. Lou Dawson December 14th, 2012 3:31 pm

    I hear you on the bear spray. I’ve been talking about carrying it for dogs, gonna do it. Sick of being chased. The image of your pit bull “friend” is classic.

  32. SB December 14th, 2012 4:39 pm

    Had a dog act agressively to me while biking up a local trail last weekend. I love how the owners act all surprised. He never does that! Yeah, right.

    No one on a trail should be contacted by your pet without their permission. You can max excuses that your dog’s reaction is due to the other person’s nonverbal communication, but it is 100% your fault for allowing your dog to contact that person.

    Bear spray might be my next mountain bike accessory. Probably works well on an outraged dog owner too.

  33. Lou Dawson December 14th, 2012 4:50 pm

    Just to change the subject (grin), I wanted to remind everyone that when they get the new daytime uphilling going at CBMR they’ll have a demo fleet of rando ski gear, including Scarpa and Trab stuff that will cause an immediate 800% increase in the popularity of not using ski lifts. Not sure if they’ll also have sausage suits for demo, as providing assistance in dressing and undressing skin tight lycra would take too many man hours and result in a complete restructuring of the CBMR business plan, as well as possible unionization along with extra involvement of OSHA, EPA, CIA, and perhaps even the FBI.

  34. Rick December 14th, 2012 4:59 pm

    OUCH!

    -CB Uphiller

  35. Bill G December 14th, 2012 5:12 pm

    Was visiting CB last weekend for CS Irwin rave which sadly was canceled due to lack of snow. I was grateful to able to use the resort for early morning/evening laps. With the sketchy weather the last few seasons especially early season it is great to able to reap the fruits of the snow making crew. If I have to pay a “small fee” so be it. Also resort travel provides a safe place to go for the solo skier.

    I agree with the “no dog policy” on the resort. At least no unleashed dogs-which makes going down hill nearly impossible. I have three large dogs that I ski and run with frequently. The are friendly and well behaved but as former veterinarian I know that any dog can act out under the right circumstance. I use the leash when there is any chance we may see human or dog. Most problems arise when the unleashed friendly dog decides to engage my pups-then the fur can fly.

  36. Mark December 14th, 2012 10:57 pm

    It is becoming a numbers game. More people climbing. More dogs accompanying the climbers. More of everything. I get the dog-skier conflict and dogs should definitely be under control. But there is the defensive driving argument. If you know there are a lot of people and dogs over the next knoll…why not slow down instead of fly over the blind. Rip it during the day on lift served terrain or when you have a mountain to yourself but a bit of common sense on both sides might make things smoother. Climbing on an industrial tourism trail is a different experience than backcountry solitude…

  37. Tim December 15th, 2012 12:41 am

    Will the uphilling fee be waived if the crate on top of my Subie has three or more dogs in it?

  38. Rob S December 16th, 2012 9:02 pm

    Lou – that’s a scary picture you paint of Rando wannabes being poured into skin tight racing outfits! When I skied La Grave, France last year the hotel owner and bartender told me much of their summer business was bikers, or as he put it, “MAMILs”…Middle-Aged Men in Lycra.

    Resort Uphill…yes! More Lycra? Perish the thought.

  39. Caspar December 17th, 2012 3:13 am

    Lou,

    Do you know of European resorts who have a defined uphilling policy?

  40. JCoates December 17th, 2012 4:14 am

    Caspar,

    I’m not Lou, but chiming in since I live in Europe:

    I don’t know that European resorts have a “defined” policy. Every resort I know of in Europe allows uphill skiing without making much of a fuss about it. In fact, many of the alpine climbing huts are in the ranges behind/near ski areas. You can access these by taking the lift as many do, or by skinning up the whole area and then continuing your tour on the back side.

    I just skied a short race this weekend at Flumserberg, Switzerland, and they actually light up the cat-tracks on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights so that people can train all season long. As is common, the restaurant/bar at the top stays open late (and busy) to feed folks and let them après ski after doing a couple of laps.

    The ski-touring tradition is a lot older in Europe so this is pretty much common everywhere I have been in the Alps. Obviously, this explains why they pretty much dominate the world of ski mountaineering racing (like they do at soccer and Formula 1). However, humans are humans, and the vast majority of people skiing still alpine ski on piste. I would estimate that for every 1-2 folks touring, there are at least a hundred others purely down-hill skiing.

    Hope that helps…

  41. Lou Dawson December 17th, 2012 8:16 am

    Thanks J! In my opinion, the amount of human powered skiing you see at EU resorts will gradually be the trend over here in NA. It’s healthy fun and the restaurant on top is an essential ingredient that I hope the resort owners get hip to right away.

  42. Mark Worley December 17th, 2012 10:39 am

    Adding well-defined, planned uphilling at resorts initially sounds overly bureaucratic, but with great benefits like easy access, bathrooms, restaurants, and the like, I think this could be a real hit at resorts in North America in the coming years. I’m optimistic. This could be great.

  43. Wilson December 17th, 2012 4:59 pm

    I enjoy uphill skiing at Abasin. I haven’t had any issues with dogs. That’s actually a big reason I ski there. It’s friendly to both uphill skiing and dogs. It can be done.

    Below is A-Basin’s policy off their website.

    A decision to have uphill access open or closed will be made and posted by 6:00am daily.

    Arapahoe Basin Uphill Access: Uphill access by means of skinning, snowshoeing and hiking has gained popularity at Arapahoe Basin in recent years. The ski area welcomes and supports individuals seeking to exercise and enjoy the quiet mountain setting. Mountain users can help preserve this opportunity by following these simple guidelines:

    1.You are required to have a complimentary uphill access pass. This pass is available at the Season Pass Office during operational hours.
    2.During operational hours, uphill access is restricted to the eastern edge of High Noon between the Base Area and Black Mountain Lodge. Access above Black Mountain Lodge is prohibited during operational hours.
    3.You are considered a skier under the Colorado Skier Safety Act and should know “Your Responsibility Code”.
    4.The mountain may be closed to uphill access when avalanche control, snowmaking, race training, or other special activities are taking place.
    5.Uphill users are warned that snowmobiles, snowmaking equipment, snow grooming, winch cat cables and other equipment may be encountered at any time on the Mountain and you are responsible to stay clear of such equipment.
    6.Entering closed terrain is prohibited. It is the user’s responsibility to know what is open or closed.
    7.Terrain Parks are closed outside operational hours.
    8.If the mountain is closed to uphill access, a closed sign will be posted at the bottom of High Noon trail in the base area. If you are unsure, please feel free to ask.
    9.Dogs must be under control at all times. No dogs are allowed on the mountain during operating hours. Clean up after your dog.
    10.Users accessing the mountain outside of normal operating hours do so at their own risk. Operational conditions may be variable including, but not limited to; closures removed for grooming operations, unfinished grooming activities, unmitigated avalanche hazards and limited visibility. Use extra caution!

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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