Once again it is hard for me to only focus on running when Colorado has so many outdoor opportunities. On the assumption that any exercise makes for a stronger runner I went out for my first AT (alpine touring) back country ski trip with my friend Mark, his wife Diane and Tango their Swiss Mountain dog. I have skied for numerous years, almost as many as I've been walking, but it has all been resort skiing or cross country. AT, known as Randonee outside the USA, allows you to climb the mountain instead of having to use the chairlift. Not having any AT gear I rented from a mountaineering store in Golden called the Bent Gate. I was shocked at the price of ski equipment–the last time I bought skies was 10 years ago and my boots are old enough to legally drink. I am in serious need of a ski equipment modernization…
We headed to Butler's Gulch near Berthoud pass. Once the gear was in order we started skining up the mountain at a steady pace. Skins, hair like straps attached to the bottom of the skis, allow you to glide uphill without sliding back down with every step. The bindings help by allowing you to only have the toe attached similar to cross country skis. Once we arrived near treeline we took a short run to test drive the gear (and me) on a gentle slope. I had to take the skins off, buckle the boots, lock the bindings, and adjust ski settings before I could turn downhill into the glade of semi tracked powder. The run was over too soon and we then reversed all the work we did so we could climb back up, this time higher.
The second run was the best. We came out of the trees to the top of a ridge where we took a few pictures and got ready to ski our last run, this time all the way back to the truck a few miles away. By this time other skiers and people out on snowshoes were arriving to enjoy a beautiful Colorado winter day. While we didn't have the area to ourselves there was plenty of space, other than the final trail out, to get fresh powder and ski some trees.
A big thanks to my guides! Pics by me and Mark.
Get out and Explore the World!