Top three reasons to backcountry ski in Vail Pass
Vail Pass delivers varied terrain for all skill levels
This beautiful Colorado landscape reaches 14,000-plus feet in elevation
Offers open bowls, steep and secluded tree shots, and big-alpine peaks
Vail Pass backcountry skiing has long been recognized for its epic powder and gorgeous scenery. You’ll have a blast in the beautiful Colorado landscape reaching 14,000-plus feet in elevation. You also won’t have to ski the same route twice in Vail Pass thanks to 65,000 acres of terrain. Vail Pass ski touring has it all — open bowls, steep and secluded tree shots, and big-alpine peaks. Count on exploring classic runs at places like Wingle Ridge, Ptarmigan Hill, Corkscrew and Machine Gun Ridge.
December through mid-April
Book as many days as you want
Denver International Airport (DEN)
Beginner to advanced
Most Popular Itineraries
Private Intro to Backcountry Skiing
Experience navigating the high-alpine with the help of a certified guide. Learn to be a competent and comfortable skier on variable snow and untouched terrain. You’ll gain knowledge on the proper use of gear, skiing techniques, route finding and safety skills. For skiers with blue level experience, this is the fastest way to make the leap from resort to backcountry.
Not sure if you should hire a guide? Listen to our ambassador Greg Hill debate the ultimate question: To be guided or not to be guided?
Powder Skiing for Intermediate and Advanced Skiers
Vail Pass ski touring allows for a challenging and thrilling experience in the Rocky Mountains. Pristine bowls and fresh lines are bountiful due to local guide knowledge. You’ll climb through scenic alpine meadows, soak in breathtaking scenery and carve new lines in the solitude of Colorado’s backcountry on this one-day tour customized to your skill level and objectives.
Depending on your objectives, full days may start earlier and end later, but in general, your day will look like this:
- 8:00 am: Meet your guide at the guide’s recommended location for introductions and going over the day’s plan
- 8:30 am: Head to the location of your backcountry ski tour
- 9:00 am – 4:00 pm: Gear up, go over safety considerations, and spend the day backcountry skiing on routes selected to best suit your group, stopping for lunch and breaks as needed
- 4:30 pm: Back to the cars for debriefing and high fives
Advanced Ski Tours & Mountaineering Objectives
Take your backcountry skiing to the next level in Vail Pass. Your expert guide will lead you through intermediate and advanced terrain, introducing you to the best powder stashes. For advanced skiers new to mountaineering, your guide will teach you how to use crampons, an ice axe, and rope management on this adventure-packed day.
Things to know
COVID-19 measures in Colorado
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Vail, Colorado, please refer to the Town of Vail website.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!
What you get in this adventure:
- An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- A full day of backcountry ski touring
What’s not included:
- Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
- Trip insurance
How fit do I need to be?
In order to enjoy this backcountry adventure, you need to have a moderate level of fitness. You will be on your feet for a full day. While there is terrain for all skill levels in Vail, you will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on blue level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.
For the enjoyment and safety of everyone involved, participants must be approved to participate in advanced backcountry skiing tours either through a previous trip with the guiding service or through recommendations.
What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?
Backcountry skiing isn’t just for pros looking for the ultimate thrill ride, it’s also beginner friendly, meaning anyone with blue level resort experience can have fun in the backcountry. If you’ve never backcountry skied before, heading out with a guide is your best bet. They’ll take care of the planning, introduce you to the basics, like skinning uphill, and teach you how to manage the terrain. They also have the experience and avalanche training to keep you safe.
What about required equipment and rentals?
All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent:
- Avalanche safety pack, including backpack, beacon, shovel and probe
- Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots and poles can be rented from your guide, or through Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge and Wilderness Sports in Dillon, 701 E Anemone Trail.
- Splitboards can be rented from Alpine Quest in Edwards.
Ski rental locations are in Dillon, Edwards and Breckenridge, and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.
For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:
- Alpine touring skis, telemark skis or splitboard with skins (can be rented)
- Touring boots and poles (can be rented)
- Avalanche safety equipment (can be rented):
- Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
- Lightweight snow shovel
- Avalanche probe
- Harness for glacier travel
For personal items, we recommend bringing:
- Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-tex recommended)
- Ski pants (Gore-tex recommended)
- Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
- Down jacket or vest
- Gloves and hat
- One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
- Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
- Water bottle and 1L of water
- The food you can eat on-the-go
- Sunglasses or ski goggles
- First-aid kit
- Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-45L bag)
- Camera — optional
Group sizes and age requirements
Groups and pricing:
For this adventure, the max client to guide ratio is 4:1. Advanced ski and mountaineering tours may run at reduced numbers depending on the skill level and objective of your group.
- The cost per person decreases as the group grows, so it’s the perfect opportunity to backcountry ski with friends and family.
- Ski touring in Vail can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.
Min. age requirements:
- Everybody over the age of 18 is welcome to book this backcountry skiing adventure.
- Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis. If you plan to ski with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements
Getting there and meeting location
To get directly to Vail, you can fly directly into Eagle County Regional Airport. From there, rent a car or take a Epic Mountain Express shuttle for around 30 minutes to Vail. Alternatively, you can fly into Denver International Airport. From there, it’s a four-hour drive by rental car or Epic Mountain Express shuttle to Vail.
Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet in Vail.