Sure, you’ve ridden down the mountain hundreds, if not thousands of times. But have you ridden up?
Uphilling is a favorite winter sport and training activity for locals and visitors alike. Making it to the top is no easy feat but riding down once you’ve climbed a mountain is sure rewarding.
It also gains you access to otherwise impossible to reach terrain. Both backcountry and sidecountry terrain is ideal for ski touring or splitboarding. Just make sure you’ve taken a legitimate avalanche course such as the AIARE Level 1 class if you’re serious about heading into the backcountry.
If you’re just looking for a casual day of ski touring, all 4 of the mountains in our valley allow uphilling. The resort’s general guidelines for uphilling can be found here. These are a few of the main rules:
- Uphillers must remain visible at all times.
- Uphillers must stay on the side of the trail.
- Uphillers must be aware that the slopes are in use 24 hours a day, and to be on guard for snowmobiles, snowcats and other vehicular traffic operated by Aspen Snowmass.
- As with downhill traffic, uphill traffic must obey all on-mountain signage — including closed runs — and ropelines.
- Dogs are not permitted under any circumstances during operational hours. (Bummer! We know)
Not all ski shops sell or rent Alpine Touring (AT) gear or splitboards (the snowboard equivalent). Here a couple of your best options in Snowmass and Aspen.
Four Mountain Sports
With locations on every mountain, this is the easiest but probably priciest option. Find the location closest to you and give them a call for selections.
Probably the best option for touring rentals in the valley. Ute carries a wide variety of equipment and their knowledgable staff will lead you in the right direction. Have a look at their options and prices here.
Aspen Expeditions Worldwide
There are plenty of options for backcountry guides around Aspen but these guys are some of the best. AEW has been guiding and teaching rock, ice, ski & alpine mountaineering skills since 1977. You’re sure to have an experienced and knowledgable guide with this very reputable company. Their Intro to Backcountry Skiing is the perfect course for anyone looking to get out of bounds safely. If backcountry riding is something you’d like to really pursue, it’s highly recommended to take a AIARE Level 1 course. This course goes over basic avalanche safety and knowledge to travel in the backcountry. Just about all outfitters in the Aspen area teach these courses and they usually start in December and run until the end of the winter.
Aspen Alpine Guides
Another reputable company if you’re looking to get into the backcountry for the first time. Have a look at their variety of programs here.
Aspen Ski Company
If you’re just looking to learn the ways of touring, Aspen Ski Co. offers group uphilling lessons every Sunday at Buttermilk. According to their website, you’ll learn “proper use for: boot/binding interface, clothing/layering, hydration and nutrition for uphill fitness, putting skins on and off the skis, walking uphill at a reasonable pace, proper routes and ski area rules for up-hill traffic, transitioning to downhill mode, and enjoying the ski down!”
If you’re not already calling up rental shops and reserving a spot in the next backcountry tour, here’s some final inspiration to start uphilling!