Last winter, a very different kind of ski area opened in the mountains of Colorado. Bluebird Backcountry resort proved to the world that a ski area could exist without chairlifts. Located off Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat, the area is a new concept in ski area design, offering both controlled inbounds terrain and guided-only backcountry terrain only accessible by the power of your own legs. This year, with an anticipated boom in backcountry skiing, Bluebird is announcing some big plans, including loads of new terrain and a base for backcountry and avalanche education classes.
Coming off a test season that proved the world is ready for a ski area without chairlifts, Bluebird Backcountry announced today that it will open for a full ski season this year with more terrain, more classes, more services, and more snow. To deliver on this promise while keeping guest and staff safety at the forefront of all decisions, Bluebird Backcountry is moving the backcountry ski area four miles northwest to Bear Mountain (9,845’). The new location is on the Continental Divide near Rabbit Ears Pass and is centrally located about 30 minutes from Kremmling and Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
“Our new location at Bear Mountain not only receives 45 percent more snow annually, it’s also huge, allowing our guests to have an uncrowded, powder-filled backcountry adventure,” said Jeff Woodward, co-founder and CEO.
The new ski area will welcome a maximum of 200 guests a day on the mountain, spread across 1,200 acres of in-bounds terrain. For comparison, Arapahoe Basin has 1,428 skiable acres.
With no chairlifts or motorized guest transportation and physical distancing serving as a natural component of backcountry travel, Bluebird Backcountry is uniquely positioned to keep its guests safe this winter. While COVID-19 has forced traditional ski areas to work out challenges of crowded lift lines, gondolas, and cafeterias, Bluebird Backcountry spent time this offseason evolving its guest experience both on and off the snow. On snow, Bluebird Backcountry has designed fun ski runs on primarily north- and east-facing aspects, crafted a signature education progression for backcountry ski and splitboard lessons and clinics, certified its avalanche education programs, and expanded its guided-only skiing zone to 3,000 acres. Off the mountain, Bluebird Backcountry will offer slopeside camping and tasty new food options from a throw-back food truck.
Now an official AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) provider, Bluebird Backcountry will teach avalanche courses with experienced and credentialed instructors. For skiers and splitboarders who are beginning their backcountry journey, Bluebird is introducing a unique three-lesson progression designed to welcome all experience levels, including those who have never tried backcountry skiing or splitboarding (backcountry snowboarding). These courses offer hands-on learning with backcountry gear, movement, skills, etiquette, and Leave No Trace principles. They help backcountry travelers develop good habits and ultimately prepare them for AIARE training, which they can now experience on site.
“We expect backcountry use and demand for avalanche education to be at an all-time high this year,” said Vickie Hormuth, executive director of AIARE. “Recreationists of all abilities and
backcountry experience levels will be looking for uncrowded places to play, making education more important than ever. Bluebird Backcountry is filling a much-needed gap to help resort skiers transition properly by learning both backcountry and avalanche essentials in a comfortable environment. Bluebird’s model is the future of in-bounds backcountry learning, and we are proud to partner with them to provide top-notch, forward-thinking avalanche education.”
Bluebird is also introducing a unique mentorship program this year called Bluebird+. The membership offers aspiring backcountry travelers access to Bluebird’s Backcountry 1, 2, and 3 courses, unlimited clinics and ski-with-a-mentor days, as well as discounts on AIARE training, guided lessons, and snow safety gear.
In addition to the new products, services, and safety measures, Bluebird Backcountry will continue to offer traditional ski-area comforts within its marked boundary, including great tree skiing, backcountry ski and splitboard rentals, touring lessons, warming huts, bathrooms and a professional on-site ski patrol for medical response and avalanche evaluation.
Season passholders will have unlimited access to the mountain, with no reservations required. Season passes are extremely limited and on sale at early bird pricing ($299) starting today, along with Bluebird+ ($250) and AIARE courses ($250–$550). Day passes and multi-day passes will be limited and require reservations. Day passes, rental, lesson, clinic, and guide reservations will go on sale in November. Bluebird also will offer a range of group products for companies, travelers, and anyone looking to bring friends and family for a unique outdoor experience.
Bluebird Backcountry expects opening day at Bear Mountain to be Dec. 24, 2020 and closing day to be March 28, 2021. Operations will run five days a week, Thursdays through Mondays, and camping will be available Thursday nights through Sunday nights. Let it snow!
To learn more about Bluebird Backcountry or to buy a pass, visit http://bluebirdbackcountry.com.
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