Three sidebars for Uphill skiing OBT
March 3, 2016
Steamboat Springs — 030616 Skin Game sidebars — guidelines
A growing niche sport
Ski industry statistics on uphill skiing
(Includes ski areas that do not operate on public lands)
•Forty-three percent of resorts allow uphill access,
•including 6 percent on an unlimited basis and
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37 percent on a limited basis – for example, limited to to proscribed routes and times of day, etc.).
•51 percent of resorts prohibit uphill access, while 6 percent of resorts don't have a formal policy on the trend.
•Among resorts allowing uphill access, 53 percent require
a paid ticket or pass for access, while 47 percent allow unpaid access.
Source: National Ski Areas Association 2014-2015 Kottke End of Season Report.
Play it safe
Steamboat Ski area rules
Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. permits uphill traffic with "limited restrictions" (closures), and also requires that uphill skiers follow guidelines. They are intended to promote safety and to minimize conflicts with snowmaking and grooming operations (including winch cat), snowmobile traffic, and any other activities that might be taking place at any time on the mountain, day and night.
The ski corp. has an uphill access pass system to educate users about the risks of uphill skiing and asks skiers and other to download the Uphill Access Pass Policy and User Guidelines. They ask users read through the document and bring a signed copy into the Information Center in Gondola Square before heading uphill. They will be given a highly reflective armband to either wear or attach to a pack, serving as an uphill pass.
You can read the complete guidelines at the ski area's Web site.
Guidelines include, among others,:
•respect all closures, warning signs and rope no matter the time of day or season
•Avoid night skiing areas 4:30-5:30 p.m. (5=6 p.m. during spring hours) when snowcats are working in those areas.
•Fat tire bikes are allowed, but restricted to use outside of operating hours. Bikes are restricted to a list of cat-track type runs designated by green circles on the trail maps and signs.
•Keep to the side of runs and remain visible from above at all times.
sidebar equipment – photo of Pete Van De Carr at Backdoor Sports goes with this sidebar
Count me in
Pete Van De Carr said this month the uphill skiing revolution has transformed compact shop– Backdoor Sports – on Yampa Street in downtown Steamboat. The shop has morphed from one that specialized in Telemark skiing equipment to one that now attracts more mainstream Alpine skiers who are intrigued with the possibilities of hiking uphill on skis, then turning around for a long, rewarding downhill run.
It's all been made more possible by Alpine touring (AT) gear and especially the lightweight ski bindings that allow users to unlock their hills for better climbing ability on the way up, then lock them down for more control while carving turns on the way down.
"There's such a wide range of Alpine touring equipment out there, and don't forget split-boards (versatile snowboards that break down into two wide skis)," Van De Carr said.
A set of boots and skis an cost $1,800 ($900 each) before bindings are included, but Van De Carr also has skis in the $400 range. And it's still possible for skiers to re-purpose fat Telemark skis into AT gear.
There is featherlight equipment for people who want to compete in races like Steamboat's Cody's Challenge, super wide skis for big powder days, rockered skis for all-mountain Alpine skiing and of course, ski and boot combinations intended for the backcountry. There's even viable options for Telemarkers who use the three-pin binding that was the standard in past decades.
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