The ski resorts seem to get busier and busier every year, but thankfully Colorado’s Western Slope is full of beautiful and isolated backcountry skiing spots.
After you read up on avalanche safety 101, it’s time to head into the mountains. Here are some of the top areas to backcountry ski in the wild, wild west of Colorado.
There’s a reason we talk about the Grand Mesa so often. It’s one of the Western Slope’s most unique treasures and it’s the perfect winter playground.
For backcountry skiing, the Mesa Creek Backcountry Ski Area makes it easy to get in some turns. And it’s a great introduction to backcountry skiing. This part of the Mesa is actually an old ski area, so there are excellent runs for beginners, intermediates, and experts.
Star Peak is known for its plentiful couloirs, and the conditions are particularly good during the spring. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it might be the perfect place to find isolation and adrenaline. Just read what SummitPost has to say about this peak:
“Star Peak’s summit hosts maybe 20 climbers a year. About 15 of them climb the peak in late winter or spring to take advantage of the ideal snow couloirs that rib the south face. For a late spring into summer climb, the North Ridge Route is a dangerous endeavor. After surviving the climb, the payoff is worth the effort for the summit view is spectacular. So, climb the North Ridge at your own risk.”
Not surprisingly, the terrain in this area is prone to avalanches, so be extra careful when you’re out enjoying the powder. You can reach Star Peak from Crested Butte.
Backcountry skiing options abound around Silverton. Anvil Mountain is just three miles from town.
The trail to the summit should be easily visible and you’ll have your pick of lines on the way back down. As is to be expected in this area, the views of Silverton and the surrounding San Juan Mountains are fantastic.
Grand Turk is another gem of the San Juans near Silverton. It’s a relatively easy trip up and an incredibly fun trip back down, complete with more couloirs. You’ll have access to three different summits, the highest one being the easternmost peak.
For an idea of how much fun this peak is, have a look at this ski report
Highway 550 cuts through the San Juan Mountains between Silverton and Durango, and this high alpine roadway is packed with more terrain than even the most dedicated skier could explore in a lifetime. You could easily head out and choose your own adventure based on whatever spot looks best.
Or, if you’re looking for some more guidance, check out this article from the Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal called “Eye Candy in the San Juans.” You’ll be ready to dig your avvy beacon out of storage as soon as you’re done reading.