So I’m the new guy at the Vail location. Last season I bought a set up from the Cripple Creek shop and not only did I get hooked on the sport, but I got hooked on Cripple Creek Backcountry.
Walking into the store was everything I wanted in a gear experience: craft beer, espresso, and a bunch of super approachable guys who know their stuff. I knew if I was going to be back in the Vail Valley I wanted to work here, so I hung around until they hired me. Fast forward to today and I’m not only the new guy at the shop, but I’m very new to the uphill skiing sport.
After a slow start to this season, I was as giddy as I could be when the snow started falling. So I did something that only the sport of skiing allows - I woke up before sunrise and headed over to A-Basin. A foot had fallen overnight and it finally felt like winter; cold, trees blanketed in snow, and trucks lining I-70 to put their chains on.
Frozen pines along I-70 means winter is here to stay
The First Skin of the Season
We pulled into the parking lot a little past 7am and I was shocked to see the number of cars already filling up the early riser lot. They weren’t here to line up for first chair either - they were here toearn their turns and more importantly elevate their levels.
We clicked into our G3 Ion’s (my girlfriend, her dad and I were all skiing the same binding) and gleefully started uphill. In addition to the steady flow of uphill traffic on the mountain that joined us, there were also people enjoying the season’s first soft snow on the down. All in all, I would say their were at least one hundred people on the up - yet another sign that this sport is here to stay. From snowshoes to frame bindings to full on race set-ups, people were out there and getting after it. A beautiful sight to behold.
That first skin got me beyond stoked, like, I’m full on ready to boot pack up Sopris (not actually). That’s why when Vail pushed up their opening date to the 22nd, after originally pushing it back to Thanksgiving, I couldn’t wait to get after it. I once again got up early and was skinning up the freshly groomed Born Free before 7. In all my excitement (and inexperience) I forgot to check if Vail was allowing uphill skiers this early in the season. It turns out they aren’t; we found this out when we were politely told by ski patrol that skinning wasn’t allowed just yet.
Keep the Good Times Rolling: Respect Uphill Policies
While it’s definitely a bummer I’ll have to hold off on my morning laps, I am happy to oblige. Vail is one of the few mountains that allows unrestricted uphill access - a unique privilege we would very much like to continue. So in the early season, when there is concentrated snowmaking and grooming on limited terrain, it’s both the safe and right thing to do. Let’s respect Vail’s uphill policy and hope that in turn they’ll keep the good times rolling. In the meantime, think snow!