On any given day at winter resorts in the West, dozens of people on skis, snowshoes or foot can be seen heading out of the base area to get in a run within resort boundaries without riding the lift.
Ski industry experts say the growth in sales of free-heeled bindings, climbing skins and trax are among the industry’s fastest – right along with its compatriot, backcountry skiing gear. It’s grown so quickly that the U.S. Forest Service, on whose land most ski resorts reside, have released rules permitting resorts to charge for uphill access.
“Uphilling is relatively new so there is a curiosity component that draws people to try it,” Colorado Ski Country USA’s Jenn Rudolph told SnoCountry.com. “It’s also a fantastic workout that allows people to be outside and enjoy our public lands and beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery.”
Most Western resorts only allow the activity before or after regular hours, but some permit climbing during the day but restrict it to certain areas. Most require a pass but don’t charge for it, and some let you go right through the night – with a headlamp, of course.
Here’s a sampling of how some Western resorts handle uphill skiing:
Brighton. Day or night, uphillers can hike on specific routes but must stay to the side of groomed trails on the Utah mountain. The resort has a three-color system that regulates what’s open for climbing. There’s no charge but visitors must check with ski patrol for any closures.
Sun Valley. No charge at the Idaho resort, but skinners, snowshoers, trax-ers or foot hikers must be heading downhill by 9 a.m., when the lifts open. They can head back up after lifts close at 4 p.m.
Sugar Bowl.The California resort designates trailheads where uphillers can start their hike. Climbing is permitted during operating hours but restricted to the edges of certain runs. An uphill travel pass, available Judah Lodge or the base area ticket window, is required. Non-season pass holders pay $25 a day or $150 a season.
Arapahoe Basin. After getting free uphill access pass at any ticket window, a hiker can hit the slopes at any time during day or night. While lifts are running, uphill-ers restricted to side of High Noon run and only up to mid-mountain Black Mountain Lodge.
Click here for a listing of resorts’ uphill policies,or check resort website.
Photos: Top -- Uphill skiing is becoming popular at resorts like A-Basin (A-Basin/Facebook); Below: A hike up A-Basin at twilight ought to make you ready for supper (A-Basin/Facebook)