Steamboat’s most dedicated skinners weigh in on resort uphill policy
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A group gathered at the base of Steamboat Resort, some briskly moved up and down the slope, their headlights bobbing across the empty slopes. Others strapped on equipment and ensured their packs were organized with snacks and layers.
Passersby, likely seeking dinner or a drink, watched on with interest and slight confusion.
A man asked a woman putting skins on her skis what she was doing. She let him feel the skin and explained it provides grip and allows her to climb uphill before skiing back down.
Every few minutes there is a similar exchange.
“Can you tell me what’s going on?” a man asked a skier in line.
“It’s a skimo race. So you skin up and ski down,” the skier replied.
The skier was in line to pick up his number for the second Town Challenge Ski Ascent Series race of the year, The Vertigo Craze. The race was sold out with 75 racers and had a waiting list.
The series, in its second year, attracts some of the most dedicated and competitive uphill skiers in Steamboat Springs. They are, in many ways, the local experts.
Megan Robinson and Elisa Maines skin up the resort two or three mornings a week,
“It’s such a great workout. It’s the best thing you can do in an hour,” Robinson said. “It’s so great, and it can be social too because you can go with friends and talk.”
The pair have been hitting the resort at 7 a.m. in accordance with the new uphill policy at Steamboat Resort that doesn’t allow uphill traffic during operating hours.
“I’m just grateful they’re still allowing us to uphill,” Maines said. “I know a lot of other resorts, they don’t allow it at all. We’re thankful to be out here whether it’s in the morning or at night. We just make it work with our schedule.”
That being said, the typical up-and-down runs are absolutely packed with people. Maines estimated 80 to 100 people on most mornings. Robinson equated it to rush hour.
Hannah Bingham and Alisha Johansson also skin up the resort a few mornings a week and said the exact same thing — that 7 a.m. is rush hour with everyone going up and down all at once.
“We go at 6 or quarter of 6. We go pretty early, so we haven’t had any problems,” Johansson said. “It’s been good but hard with no dogs (due to new resort uphill regulations).”
Johansson takes her dog up Emerald Mountain when she’s really craving a furry companion on her skinning trips. To avoid the crowds, she heads up north and goes backcountry skiing.
“She knows the secret spots,” Bingham said.
Despite the changes this year, Bingham said people have been courteous and knowledgeable, so there has been little user conflict. Even on Emerald, where multimodal users run into each other, she said everyone seems to know the rules and follows them for the most part.
Jack Horrigan is just breaking into the sport. He got a split board earlier in the winter, and Wednesday’s race was his first. He’s spent some time on Rabbit Ears Pass to get used to the motions of the sport and was surprised at how few people he encountered.
“I’m definitely seeing a pretty full parking lot,” he said. “I don’t know where they’re going, but I haven’t seen too many people on the trails.”
For a full list of winter recreation locations and resources, visit steamboatchamber.com/know-before-you-go/. Additionally, the Twitter account @stmbttrailheads has parking lot updates from popular trailheads in the area.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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