First lift-free ski resort Colorado

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After a successful test run drew more than 1,000 skiers and snowboarders over 14 days in February and March, Colorado’s first new ski resort in 15 years is expanding for a full season in 2020-21. There’s just one thing awry — the resort has no lifts.

Bluebird Backcountry, located outside the town of Kremmling, Colorado, will expand to cover 1,200 acres of accessible terrain on Bear Mountain, about 2.5 hours northwest of Denver. Before heading downhill, skiers and riders must first hike up the mountain by attaching skins to their skis or boards, a process known in the ski world as “earning your turns.”

“Our new location at Bear Mountain not only receives 45 percent more snow annually, it’s also huge, allowing our guests to have an uncrowded, powder-filled backcountry adventure,” said Jeff Woodward, Bluebird Backcountry co-founder and CEO, in a press release.

Bluebird Backcountry exists to give paying guests a more controlled big-mountain skiing and snowboarding experience than hiking in the unpatrolled backcountry. The resort patrols its territory for avalanche risk, offers a day lodge and, new for this upcoming season, overnight camping at its base. The resort will also offer avalanche training courses this winter. An additional 3,000 acres of terrain will be available for those willing to hire one of the resort’s on-site guides.

Photo: Courtesy of Bluebird Backcountry

“We expect backcountry use and demand for avalanche education to be at an all-time high this year,” said Vickie Hormuth, executive director of AIARE, in the release. “Recreationists of all abilities and backcountry experience levels will be looking for uncrowded places to play, making education more important than ever. Bluebird Backcountry is filling a much-needed gap to help resort skiers transition properly by learning both backcountry and avalanche essentials in a comfortable environment. Bluebird’s model is the future of in-bounds backcountry learning, and we are proud to partner with them to provide top-notch, forward-thinking avalanche education.”

Season passes for Bluebird Backcountry are available for $299 via the resort’s website. In November, day passes and guide reservations will go on sale for the season, running from December 24, 2020, to March 28, 2021.