How COVID-19 Will Change the Future of Backcountry Skiing
Resort restrictions may unleash a flood of new users into the backcountry next winter.
When ski resorts closed in March due to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, many skiers would not be deterred from getting their turns. With unused season pass days snatched away, they took to the backcountry to get their skiing fix. Out-of-bounds dabblers and novices joined the dedicated backcountry skiers and showed up at trailheads in droves.
With the influx of backcountry traffic came trailhead crowding and parking issues, skier-triggered avalanches, new strategies from avalanche centers, and more than a little outrage from those choosing to abstain from the backcountry.
In Colorado, cars lined the highways near easily accessible backcountry zones like Berthoud and Loveland Pass; the Colorado Department of Transportation had to block off roadside parking with snowbanks to mitigate the traffic and Colorado State Patrol was giving out tickets to those who parked illegally on the passes.