I have lived in the Denver area for many years, and wouldn’t imagine living anywhere else, at least for now. I used to live up in the mountains, and we called “Denverites” by a name that isn’t usually used as a term of endearment. We called them (which is really me/us now) “Weekend Warriors.” Folks from Denver, as it goes, don’t usually do the mountain thing during the week, but are fired up on the weekends, clogging the roads (I-70), and making the ski resorts miserably crowded.
I’ve ‘gotten over’ my need to battle crowds, and traffic, especially now that I have discovered all of the backcountry skiing available to me within a short drive from the Denver area!
The great things about backcountry skiing are:
1) Once you have the equipment, there is no fee, lift ticket, or $14 bowls of chili at the lodge. You pay for gas, and pack a lunch
2) It is family friendly – once your kids learn, and have the equipment, you can go whenever, and for however long.
3) There is no “guilt” associated with being done at 1:30, especially after you have paid up to, and over $100 for a lift ticket. When you are done, you’re done, and that’s perfect!
4) No crowds (unless a group of squirrels, and maybe a snowshoer is your idea of a crowd-scene).
5) You can sleep in, wait for the morning traffic to subside, and then sneak up to the mountains mid-morning in plenty of time to get a lot of skiing in!
6) Did I mention that it is economical?
I was surprised at how easy it was to outfit my skis with “climbing skins” which go on and off easily. You just need to trim them before use, and there are a number of good videos out there (Black Diamond site has a few) and tutorials.
Here is my photo from an awesome ski day, just outside of Copper Mountain in a little valley called Clinton Gulch. It was about a 1.5 hour drive (easy drive) from Denver. We got there around 10, left at 2 – and avoided all traffic. It was a perfect day.