- Feel the cold mountain air pierce your lungs as you get ready to drop into fresh powder.
- Have your own Powder 8 contest with your friends on the open bowls in the backcountry.
- For the inexperienced backcountry skiers, consider taking a guide to evaluate and manage group safety, such as avalanche conditions and weather.
Getting out into the backcountry of Summit County is an opportunity to test your mettle against some imposing terrain. Strap some skins onto your alpine touring gear, head up into the magnificent bowls and glades, and enjoy some of the best terrain Colorado can offer.
It's a unique experience for those accustomed to skiing inbounds at the ski resorts, so take the chance to get out and try something a little different from your average ski vacation.
When traveling in Colorado's backcountry, it's important to be familiar with snow and avalanche safety. Depending on weather and terrain, hazards like avalanches, hypothermia, and severe weather can quickly turn a pleasant day of skiing into a dangerous situation.
Try to follow some common backcountry rules: bring food, water, a first aid kit and warmth; have the proper avalanche safety gear like a shovel, probe, and beacon; know your surroundings and where you're going; and always tell others about your backcountry plans.
The local avalanche hotline in the area can be reached at (970) 668-0600. Remember that having fun in Colorado's backcountry begins with being safe.
Where to go Backcountry Skiing
The area around Montezuma has a variety of terrain and routes great for either family outings or hard-core thrill seeking tele-skiers. Montezuma Road is just east of Keystone, so it's a convenient location to get out into the backcountry.
- Peru Creek - This trail has great touring opportunities in the early part of the season. Enjoy wide open alpine areas just under overhanging peaks. Peru Creek is on the left just a couple miles up the road.
- Deer Creek - Backcountry skiers and snowshoers can enjoy large open meadows. But go earlier rather than later because trails tend to get busy with families. Deer Creek is past the town of Montezuma; park where the road ends in the winter.
This is a popular hike outside of Copper Mountain, leading up to 12,415 feet, where your heart will be pounding before you drop into Mayflower Ampitheatre. From there, you can access Gold Hill, Mayflower Hill and Fletcher Mountain. The hike up will pass a number of mining cabins, which is a great place to grab lunch or take a break.
The trail head is located on Hwy. 91 off exit 195 of I-70. Head 5.3 miles towards Leadville, looking for the trailhead on the left.
For those looking for a little more skiing and a little less hiking, Keystone and Copper Mountain both offer rides in snow cats to help preserve your strength for the ride down. There's no need to hike up to the remote areas to get a taste of the backcountry, just hop in and let the cat take you up.
Rentals & Fees
Backcountry gear may be rented at a number of outdoor shops in the area. Typical gear includes alpine touring boots, skis, poles and skins. Other equipment can be provided as necessary.
Hire a Guide
Taking a guide out will relieve all the pressure of making sure your group is safe and organized. Packages often include the gear rental, transportation and lunch, allowing the entire group to focus on the skiing, not the nit-picking details.