First Backcountry ski area in US

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Krummholz
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First Backcountry ski area in US

Post by Krummholz » Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:16 pm

Hi Everyone,

Not sure if anyone else uses Open Snow, but here is an article on a new ski area starting up, Bluebird Backcountry.
A611BE1B-26FD-47A0-9A85-48F5509EA8F0.jpeg
https://opensnow.com/news/post/bluebird ... =2019-2020
Last edited by Krummholz on Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: First Backcountry ski are in US

Post by MSU Alum » Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:37 pm

Sounds like a good way to get more people into skiing backcountry.

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Re: First Backcountry ski are in US

Post by Baaahb » Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:28 pm

I hope they serve some damn good french fries and hot chocolate.

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Re: First Backcountry ski area in US

Post by Andy M » Thu Jan 30, 2020 8:29 pm

Thanks Krummholz -- I read through the details, and, frankly, I find this very troubling. Perhaps I am overly sensitive since this is initially occurring in Colorado, but all of us should be concerned where this might lead. Although this instance is on private land, in a worst-case scenario, this could potentially lead to fee-oriented backcountry areas in national forest. Here's a quote from the opensnow article:

Bluebird Backcountry has been working on the backcountry-lite ski area concept for three years. During that time it has run a variety of tests in Colorado while partnering with Winter Park Resort, the United States Forest Service and North London Mill Preservation...

Here's another quote from the Bluebird CEO :roll:

"It’s unnecessarily difficult to learn how to backcountry ski, and right now the options are either expensive or dangerous or both. Our goal is to change that."

So, instead of building new lifts, etc., a ski area, or a group like the North London Mill Preservation (see link below) could decide to "annex" local backcountry terrain on federal land, provide some sort of service like avalanche bombing, then charge you a fee to ski where you have already been skiing safely for years.

https://opensnow.com/news/post/bluebird ... =2019-2020

North London Mill Preservation
http://nolocolorado.org/

By the way, at Bluebird's initial backcountry ski area, it costs $50 per day.

https://bluebirdbackcountry.com/

If they stay to private land, which was previously inaccessible, fine -- but why have they been working with the Forest Service, an established ski area like Winter Park, and a preservation group that owns minimal land within a much larger federal land area?

Here's an article in Backcountry Magazine that suggests they will be looking elsewhere:

https://backcountrymagazine.com/stories ... portunity/

Here's a key quote from the Backcountry Mag article:

Although its current digs are temporary at the ranch—with the option to return again next year—Bluebird’s goal is to one day have a home base with a USFS land lease like most ski areas, and the owners note they may one day have more than one Bluebird ski area, and that competition may pop up, too.

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Re: First Backcountry ski area in US

Post by Baaahb » Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:27 pm

Andy M wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 8:29 pm
Thanks Krummholz -- I read through the details, and, frankly, I find this very troubling. Perhaps I am overly sensitive since this is initially occurring in Colorado, but all of us should be concerned where this might lead. Although this instance is on private land, in a worst-case scenario, this could potentially lead to fee-oriented backcountry areas in national forest.
Thus the importance to stay proactive and monitor Forest Service approval actions. (Generally you can sign up for email alerts of action on specific topics.) This is already an issue with regard to the extent ski resorts can prohibit uphill travel, offseason poaching and/or travel across resort boundaries to access areas outside the resort. The Forest Service, in granting permits/leases, can and does include provisions preserving public access, where the public speaks up forcefully and has good reason.

I'm not sure at what price point this sort of operation is feasible. I understand ski area insurance is a major portion of ski area expense and they will have that risk as much as a resort with lifts. I also think they are far more restricted as to the point at which they max out in terms of number of users. So it appears to me a very iffy proposition. However, I do think there is a significant market for this sort of resort.

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Re: First Backcountry ski area in US

Post by Woodserson » Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:33 pm

Baaahb wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:27 pm


Thus the importance to stay proactive and monitor Forest Service approval actions. (Generally you can sign up for email alerts of action on specific topics.) This is already an issue with regard to the extent ski resorts can prohibit uphill travel, offseason poaching and/or travel across resort boundaries to access areas outside the resort. The Forest Service, in granting permits/leases, can and does include provisions preserving public access, where the public speaks up forcefully and has good reason.
Everything is America must be monetized!

Under the proposed NEPA rule changes from late last year, much public involvement and public comment periods for smaller projects in National Forests is going to go away. For "streamlining" and "fast tracking" projects. You know, get the pesky public out of public lands and privatize the profits off the taxpayer's back.

I bet a great place for this kind backcountry resort would be opposite Snowbird and Alta and surrounding terrain behind and between BCC and The Canyons/Park Valley. They can make some coin on zero infrastructure just across the road or behind the gates. Parking is already in place, throw a couple eager beaver patrollers on that side, set up a concession stand, charge $50 for what used to be free (free in that you already paid your taxes). There have been attempts to link Park Valley to BCC and LCC for years... this is a way to do it. Just that everyone else that has done it for years can't do it anymore.

The whole concept that mountains can be private or public or open or closed mystifies my half-European mind anyway. I can go anywhere in Switzerland, private or public. Farmers own the Alps, but they can't stop me from walking across the land. They exploit their property but the public still has access. It's called "Right to Roam" also found in Scotland, Norway, etc. I chafe here in the States where for some reason I can't access thousands of acres of terrain because an absentee landowner living nowhere nearby says no. OR-- buying private land surrounding public land and then cutting off access (Example: Idaho, Wilks brothers). Crazy.

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Re: First Backcountry ski area in US

Post by freeheelwilly » Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:27 pm

Woodserson wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:33 pm


The whole concept that mountains can be private or public or open or closed mystifies my half-European mind anyway. I can go anywhere in Switzerland, private or public. Farmers own the Alps, but they can't stop me from walking across the land. They exploit their property but the public still has access. It's called "Right to Roam" also found in Scotland, Norway, etc. I chafe here in the States where for some reason I can't access thousands of acres of terrain because an absentee landowner living nowhere nearby says no. OR-- buying private land surrounding public land and then cutting off access (Example: Idaho, Wilks brothers). Crazy.
Yeah, private property rights. So "crazy".

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Re: First Backcountry ski area in US

Post by Baaahb » Fri Jan 31, 2020 8:43 pm

freeheelwilly wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:27 pm

Yeah, private property rights. So "crazy".
Well, the fact is the "public right of way" system works damn well in Europe.

OTOH, here in 'Merica we got a lot more public lands, which the Euroids envy. And we do have to watch for them being wrongly appropriated by commercial interests. And the proposed change to NEPA (I believe it is still just proposed...wasn't there a comment period a few months ago?) is BULLSHIT.

But...more BULLSHIT Makes America Great Again.

Get that exclusionary land grab in the cottonwood canyons and hell ya, I'll invest. Capitalism will set you free.

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Re: First Backcountry ski area in US

Post by Cannatonic » Sun Feb 02, 2020 2:48 pm

we already have MANY lodges and facilities dedicated to BC skiing all over the United States. The nicest one I've seen is a day lodge in Olympic National Park in Washington. Can't remember the exact name of it but you drive way up into the montains to get there...beautiful building and facility surrounded by disneyland of BC skiing. I believe it was a socialist facility i.e. free for all citizens of the realm :lol:
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Re: First Backcountry ski area in US

Post by fgd135 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 2:56 pm

That ranch they're using is at a very low altitude for Colorado; I' think it will be a tough ski after a just a few days of heavy use.
Imho, the folks that will be using this place are the same ones that expect to be able to use downhill resorts to go uphill, and for the ski patrol to keep them out of any danger from avalanches, and the other pesky aspects of true backcountry skiing. Best of luck to 'em.

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