First Backcountry Report

backcountryLast week, Nino, 3 skiers, and I headed up just northwest of Black Hawk city for what would be my first (and Nino’s) backcountry trip. I had some of the gear I needed, but still dropped nearly $700 for 2 beacons, another set of snowshoes, 2 shovels, and 2 probes. Nino and I also attended a 1 hour avalanche awareness course. We learned enough to know we need to take a real class.

The snow conditions were nearly as bad as you could imagine. Several days of sun had the top cursted over in the open areas. I would find myself over knee deep in snow not 20 meters from a patch of exposed grass. That’s what you get for heading out after the very first snow of the season.

Skiers definitely have a backcountry advantage when it comes to traversing. Uphill, I could keep up. However, downhill, the skiers get to slide along and rest at the bottom while the snowboaders hike it all the way through. You definitely need stamina.

My favorite moment was sitting back in a snow-made lounge chair and looking off at an amazing view down the valley. I want to spend my next day of turns somewhere with a lift, no doubt. However, I expect to do this backcountry experience several more times this season. It’s good stuff.

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