Beginners Guide to Backcountry Skiing In Summit County, Colorado

Fresh, untracked snow may be difficult to find at your average ski resort. Perhaps the allure of trekking out on your own, away from the lines and people, is calling you to into the backcountry.

There really is nothing quite like skiing and snowboarding in pristine wilderness, but it’s also not an activity that can just be taken up in an afternoon. Especially for beginners, there is a lot of important information that is crucial to know before setting out.


The first step to prepare yourself is getting educated about the safety risk. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is an incredible resource to familiarize yourself with current Avalanche conditions. One must always be on the alert for avalanches in the backcountry, and there’s no lodge or ski patrol to help. Anytime you are in an uncontrolled environment, you must be keenly aware of the safety risks.

The best way to prepare yourself is through an avalanche safety training course, which will teach you to access local avalanche bulletins and weather reports and recognize basic signs of avalanche danger. A formal avalanche training course will teach you the basics of companion rescue, how to use a transceiver, shovel, and probe to search for a buried victim. After taking such courses, you will feel much better prepared to venture out into the backcountry.

Next, you need to invest in the right backcountry gear. Everyone needs avalanche equipment of their own. This includes an avalanche transceiver, shovel, and probe. Skiers will need backcountry skis, bindings, and boots. Snowboarders will want to invest in a splitboard, splitboard bindings, snowboard boots, and climbing skins. While it might be tempting to use the same equipment you would on the slopes, most items are designed slightly differently for backcountry skiing/snowboarding. For your safety and comfort, it’s best to invest in the right equipment.

If you intend to explore the backcountry area around Summit County, then it is required to reserve a guide. This makes it easier for everyone in the sense that you have someone experienced to guide you, and if you make any slip ups, the guide can help you find your way again. Traveling in a group is always significantly safer.

Even with a guide, however, it is important to assess your skiing/snowboarding skills and fitness level before heading into the backcountry. If your skills aren’t quite what they should be, consider enrolling in classes beforehand to finetune your skills. This beginner’s course covers all the basics.


Once prepared to head out on the trails, you may be wondering where the best places to ski/snowboard are in Summit County. Loveland Pass is a great trail for beginners. This Mountain Pass road winds up and down Loveland Mountain, which gives groups the opportunity to “shuttle,” or take turns driving the car back up and down the road. People can pile into a car or the back of a pickup truck, drive up the pass, unload at the top, ski down, and do it all over again. This method is great because it doesn’t require any hiking, and it’s a very popular spot, so avalanche danger is lessened. You also don’t need to spend time and money purchasing lift tickets. However, despite the relative safety of the trail, it’s always best to go out with people who know what they’re doing, especially when you are first getting started.

Baldy Ascent is another popular trail. It is a relatively easy skin up to the ridge line of Bald Mountain and has many good lines that begin off this ascent. Zones appropriate for backcountry skiing/snowboarding include Orion, The Chicken Strip, Baker’s Tank Gully, Baldy Northeast Chute, and Baldy Northeast Flank. The entire area is easily accessible from Frisco/Breckenridge area.


We offer the best vacation rentals in Summit County. During your winter vacation, you’ll need a place to relax and unwind after long days out in the snow, whether you are skiing, snowboarding, or even dog sledding. Our rentals are centrally located, meaning it will be easy to go back and forth between your daily activities and taking a quick rest. Browse our full range of house and condo rentals to find the best option for you.

Published on Wednesday, June 9, 2021