Skiers climb on a snowy mountain slope.

Colorado Skiing Guide for Uphill Travel

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Once considered a lesser-known gem of physical activities, uphill skiing is now gaining popularity among tourists and beginner skiers visiting the world-renowned ski town, Colorado. This is likely due to Colorado’s reputation for having rugged landscapes of different steeps and lengths, which draws thrill-seekers who enjoy this kind of extreme challenge.

If you’ve gotten more confident in venturing the slopes and want to try something you’ve never tried before, this might be the activity that should be first on your bucket list. Here’s a comprehensive Colorado skiing guide to help you make the most of your uphill adventure.

How Uphill Skiing Works

A skier with equipment on its back walks uphill on a snowy mountain.

If you’re reading this Colorado skiing guide to learn more about this new uphill sport, then you’ve come to the right place!

Uphill skiing, also known as “skinning,” “ski mountaineering,” or “alpine touring,” is a unique way to enjoy the slopes. Rather than relying on ski lifts, participants hike to the top of each run before skiing back down.

To give them better traction, a climbing skin made of nylon or mohair strips is attached to the bottom of the ski that glides and grips when moving forward and backward. Skiers are also encouraged to bring uphill skiing equipment, such as hybrid bindings with detachable heels for hiking, clipping-in for stability, and lightweight boots for extra ankle mobility.

Although still in its infancy, ski mountaineering has gained significant popularity and has prompted resorts and recreational areas to create policies and procedures surrounding the activity. There are currently no fees for uphill access, making it more accessible to enthusiasts.

Why You Should Trying Skiing Uphill

Group of people skiing uphill on a mountain slope.

While it may seem challenging, skiing uphill provides a unique and invigorating experience worth trying. More than being a unique outdoor activity for thrill-seekers, ski mountaineering also offers numerous benefits, such as:

1. It is a form of exercise.

Skinning is a full-body workout, combining cardio and strength training in a stunning mountain environment. Unlike lift access skiing, where you sit on a chairlift for the uphill, it allows you to burn calories and build muscle as you hike to the top of the mountain. The views and fresh mountain air only add to the overall satisfaction of the workout.

2. It offers a unique mountain experience.

Alpine touring provides a different perspective on the mountain. One of the tried-and-true skiing tips we can give you is to hike slowly, so you can better appreciate the beauty of your surroundings and discover new details that you may have missed on a chairlift.

3. It’s a new way to explore.

Not relying on chairlifts opens up a world of new opportunities to explore the mountain. You can venture to areas that may not be accessible via lift and experience the mountain in a new way.

4. It allows you to connect with friends.

Skinning can be a solo or group activity, making it a great way to connect with others who share your passion for the sport. Whether you’re skiing with friends or making new ones on the mountain, it provides a unique opportunity to bond over a shared experience.

5 Best Colorado Ski Areas

Skier at Snowy Mountain Ski Park.

With its stunning mountain landscapes, world-class ski resorts, and unparalleled skiing terrain, it’s no wonder why skiers and snowboarders from all over the world flock to Colorado every winter. If you’re looking for the best ski areas in the state, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to try alpine-touring in this Colorado skiing guide:

1. Snowmass

Nestled in the heart of Colorado, Snowmass is a collection of four luxurious ski resorts that offer a diverse ski and snowboarding experience. Whether you are a beginner or an expert skier, Snowmass has something for everyone.

After a day of skiing, indulge in high-end après-ski activities, luxury shopping, and delectable dining options like Casa D’Angelo and Catch Steak. Don’t miss out on a visit to the at The Aspen Art Museum. With various dining options and cultural attractions in the area, Snowmass is truly the ultimate ski destination.

2. Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crested Butte Mountain Resort is a world-renowned ski resort in Colorado, perfect for advanced skiers or snowboarders seeking a challenging experience. With 31% of its 121 runs considered advanced or expert level, it’s the ideal place to push your limits.

Take a guided lesson, ski with an Olympian, or opt for a private, luxury cat-skiing—the choice is yours. In the evening, stroll down historic Elk Avenue for shopping, dining, and drinks at local favorites like Secret Stash, Montanya Distillers, Soupcon, and The Slogar.

3. Aspen Mountain

Aspen Mountain, also known as Ajax, is located right in the heart of downtown Aspen. With narrow slopes that can get busy during lift operating hours, this mountain is best suited for those seeking a tough workout.

The Aspen Mountain Route starts at The Little Nell. It takes you up the mountain with the most elevation gain of any of the designated skinning routes in Aspen. It’s a great challenge in the early morning or a spring evening, with breathtaking views at the top.

4. Aspen Highlands

Aspen Highlands, with its renowned skiing and views, is accessible by free bus and has year-round parking, making it a must-visit for all ski enthusiasts. This Colorado skiing guide offers a quick overview to help you make your way around Aspen Highlands:

The Aspen Highlands Route is a bit steeper, but the reward is worth it. Starting at the base of the mountain, you make your way up through Jerome Bowl, Park Avenue, Memory Lane, and finally, to the top at the Merry Go Round Restaurant. This trail is accessible during operating hours. If you reach the top before 8:30 am, you can continue to the top of Loge Peak for panoramic views of the Elk Mountain Range.

5. Buttermilk

Buttermilk Mountain is the shortest of the four mountains and offers a good mix of steep and gradual routes, including the easiest of all the designated skinning routes – the West Buttermilk Route. This route starts from the West Buttermilk parking and takes you up the Teaser run, under the bridge, and onto the top of the mountain. It’s perfect for those looking for a quicker hike but still wants a challenge.

Key Highlights

Uphill skinning is a unique and exciting way to enjoy the slopes. More than a full-body workout, it offers new opportunities to explore the snowy mountains and connect with other ski enthusiasts.

Some of the perfect places to try skinning are the rugged and world-renowned ski areas in Colorado. Ski resorts, such as Snowmass, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Aspen Mountain, and Aspen Highlands, offer diverse experiences for all skill levels. So gear up, hit the slopes, and experience the thrill of skiing uphill.

Make the most of your uphill travel with Black Mountain Limo.

Traveling to different ski resorts can be quite a hassle and make your uphill experience less exciting. At Black Mountain Limo, we offer comfortable and stress-free travel options. Whether you’re traveling from Denver airport to Breckenridge or any other location, our team of experienced and professional drivers will ensure you arrive at your destination refreshed and ready for a day of adventure.

About the Author

Worth Parker
Worth Parker

at the University of Colorado—graduated class of '04. Worth moved to Breckenridge in 2005 and has lived in the area since. He has been in the mountain resort passenger transportation industry since 2005 and started Black Mountain Limo in 2016.

He enjoys outdoor activities, including skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and kayaking. Worth has worked as a professional raft guide in the summer for the past 15 years. He currently lives in Frisco with his wife, Jessica, and two daughters—Emerson, five years old, and Coralynn, two years old.

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