The Fire Family lives in Northern Colorado in the mountains and winter is the most important season of the year. Winter means that every day is an adventure in the backcountry and each time we are lucky enough to go explore and play is a gift to be cherished.
My goal each year has been to get 100 days each season and while I’ve never hit that number I get to at least half of that every year since moving here. In the 6 seasons I’ve had in this wonderful place I have ridden a chairlift exactly one day. It was a pretty fun day with friends, and we were lucky to have one person with us who had discounted lift ticket pricing. Our party was 3 guys and since we all work together in one of FireDad’s companies I footed the bill. The total cost for the day which included 1 free lift ticket, 2 tickets at $30 a piece plus lunch with a beer each was still $150. Had we paid full price for that day the cost would have been around $375 for one day of skiing and an overpriced lunch.
The mountains serve many purposes, but the one I like the most is adventure. I do not find much adventure in resort skiing. In fact, I am here to say that resort skiing is a plague on humanity and the mountains.
Resorts are not natural. They take these beautiful and natural locations then proceed to alter them in generational changing ways. They rip tens of thousands of trees out, make fake snow, install concrete and metal structures to haul our fat asses to the top, use explosives to flatten areas of the mountain to be “accessible”, build giant cafeterias into mountainsides, etc, etc.
Ski resorts do serve a purpose. They are great places to learn the sport, have a luxury vacation occasionally, but the amount of waste these monstrosities produce and inflict on our world does not outweigh their good.
Alternatives? Get your ass in the Backcountry
Yes the foreign concept of putting skins on your skis and hauling yourself up the mountain, finding your own lines in powder never seen or touched by a human. This is skiing as our ancestors did things and as I get older I’m quickly learning that modern is rarely the best.
Backcountry skiing is only for experts though right?
This myth needs to go away. Just like a resort nearly every place in America you could ski has been already assigned a difficulty and skill level using the same system. A beginner shouldn’t do a black diamond at a resort just the same a beginner shouldn’t do a black diamond in the backcountry. I’ve been skiing and snowboarding my entire life and I am smart enough to not do any black diamond or above when I’m solo. I won’t touch most double blacks in the wilderness unless I am very confident of my line beforehand. It’s basically the exact same rules you follow at the resort except the trail signs aren’t there.
Ski resorts in the United States and most of the world are gigantic, billion dollar companies and conglomerates. The activists that love skiing and protest the pillage and destruction of natural resources seem to have a blind eye to ski resorts and it’s baffling to me why. The only thing I can come up with is that they just love downhill winter sports so much they feel it’s the only way. It’s not, and the alternative is much better.
How to get started?
You don’t need some fancy setup with special bindings, expensive skins and inflatable avalanche packs to get into the backcountry. Here is all you need:
Scroll through this picture gallery that I’ve collected over the last 5 years. Highlights include: beautiful scenery, powder deeper than you’ve ever seen it, and not a single line to wait in. Why would you pay a giant corporation your hard earned money for a shittier experience?