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Top Ten in Colorado

Backcountry Ski Descents in Colorado
By Elizabeth Covington - October 8th, 2001

We asked Colorado backcountry ski fanatic Elizabeth Covington how she planned to spend the winter vacation. "What vacation?" was her reply, and in no time she dreamed up a wish list of ski descents for the 2000-2001 ski season. Consider taking a gravity-fed white vacation of your own and don't be surprised if you run into Covington's tracks on the way down.

1. Commando Run
Length: One very full day
Skill: Expert skiing and navigation skills
Elevation: From 10,580 feet at Vail Pass trailhead to 8,331 at Vail ski area, with several steep climbs and descents in between.
What they say: Named for U.S. Army's Tenth Mountain Division commandos who trained for World War II combat along this route, this ski is the definition of a Colorado classic.

2. Aspen to Crested Butte via Pearl Pass
Length: Three to four days
Skill: Anything less than expert skiing and navigation skills will spell Big Trouble.
Elevation: Trail begins at 9,498 feet, climbs to Pearl Pass, 12,705 feet, and descends to East River, 8,980 feet.
What they say: The trail, which traverses the heart of the Maroon-Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, is long, difficult and not for the inexperienced. A character builder.

3. The Peaks Trail: Breckenridge to Frisco
Length: One day
Skill: Intermediate
Elevation: From Breckenridge the trail begins at 10,250 feet, climbs to 10,400 feet, and descends to trail's end in Frisco, 9,561 feet.
What they say: A well-marked and popular 10-mile trail that is good for skis or snowshoes.

4. Mount Bierstadt
Length: Another very full day
Skill: Experts only
Elevation: Trail begins at 11,650 feet and ends at 14,060-foot summit.
What they say: A winter ascent of one of Colorado's fourteeners is something to write home about.

5. Rabbit Ears Peak
Length: One-half day
Skill: Intermediate
Elevation: From its 9,600 feet beginning trail climbs to 10,651 feet.
What they say: A relatively easy, quiet day with great views of the Continental Divide.

6. North Face of Mount Sneffels
Length: One very long day
Skill: Experts only
Elevation: Summit of Mount Sneffels - 14,150 feet
What they say: This super steep, north gully will test your jump-turning skills. Take crampons and an ice ax.

7. Tenth Mountain Division Hut - near Leadville
Length: One day
Skill: Intermediate skiing, advanced route-finding skills
Elevation: Trail begins at 10,196-feet and climbs to 11,370-foot hut.
What they say: Plan on spending the night at the hut and enjoying the second day making tracks in Colorado's dry winter powder.

8. Mayflower Gulch
Length: One day
Skill: Intermediate
Elevation: Trailhead begins at 10,905 feet and rises to 11,593 feet.
What they say: Powder bowls at end of relatively short trek in.

9. North Pole Hut - near Ridgway
Length: Two days
Skill: Intermediate skiing, advanced navigation skills
Elevation: Trail starts at 8,300 feet and climbs steadily to 9,999-foot hut.
What they say: Depending on avalanche danger, lower slopes of North Pole and Hayden Peaks offer fresh untracked.

10. Silverton Ski Area
Length: Multi-day
Skill: Expert. Skiers and boarders have to pass test showing they can use an avalanche beacon and shovel before buying a lift ticket.
Elevation: Lift tops out at 12,300 feet. From there skiers and boarders can ski under the lift or hike another 1,000 feet to access nearly unlimited terrain.
What they say: Scheduled to open winter 2001-2002, the proposed, one-lift ski area is designed to get skiers and boarders into the area's adjacent backcountry.

Writer's note: Generally seasons for these routes are December to May. However, like all backcountry routes, conditions vary from one winter season to the next and from one area of the state to another. Get the details ahead of time.

Elizabeth Covington is freelance writer and hopelessly addicted backcountry skier - not necessarily in that order - who lives and skis in southwest Colorado. She looks forward to the day when she hits the road with this and other wish lists to see what the rest of the Rockies have to offer.


Breckenridge Peaks Trail

Thats a great trail. If anyone needs a condo in Breckenridge

Posted on October 30, 2010 - 9:41pm
by Visitor

ski channel on comcast

I am currently a Comcast subscriber and can not get The Ski Channel because they do not carry it yet. I have created a site so hopefully many will write in to Comcast and request The Ski Channel.


Posted on October 23, 2009 - 4:44pm
by Visitor

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