With the continuing rise of backcountry skiing and snowboarding’s popularity, a company in Colorado is taking matters into its own hands—er, legs—to address increased demand by opening the country’s newest human-powered ski area, sans chairlift.
Founded by partners and longtime skiers Erik Lambert and Jeff Woodward, Bluebird Backcountry opens Feb. 15 between Kremmling and Steamboat Springs, Colo., offering something no other resort in the country can: a lift-free backcountry ski area, complete with guides, instructors, ski patrollers, rentals plus a mid-mountain warming hut and tent at the base.
Enveloping 2,200 vertical feet of skiable terrain, the facility is located on 1,500 acres of private land on Peak Ranch, abutting 10,115-foot Whiteley Peak. It will open for 15 days between Feb. 15 and March 15, with tickets costing $50. For another $50, users can book a two-hour backcountry lesson. Capacity tops out at 250 to 300 skiers a day, with 300 acres open for unguided climbing and schussing, and 1,200 acres open for guided skiing. The first few days that the hill is open will be restricted to only 50 guests.
So far, the venture seems to be carving a unique, and needed, niche. During a 10-day Kickstarter campaign in late January, nearly 1,000 backers pledged more than $100,000 to open the new backcountry ski area. “We’ve been blown away by all the support we’ve received,” says Lambert, who with…