by Sally Francklyn
In the wake of allowing uphill access to trails at ski resorts, Copper Mountain has followed suit. This move lets people ski or snowshoe uphill, meaning they can access the mountain in different way. Copper Mountain’s Uphill Access gives skiers an “opportunity to see and experience the resort in a unique manner,” says Shauna Bocksch, Mountain Safety Patrol Supervisor at Copper Mountain Resort.
Skinning comes from a competitive sport—Skimo, short for ski mountaineering, is a winter sport that involves racing (skinning) to the top, then clicking in and skiing downhill. According to Active Junkie, “skimo is the best time you’ll have being miserable on skis.” There are multiple competitions across the country, and you’ll see participants clad in spandex and Lycra to keep them light and fast. Fortunately, it has expanded beyond just being a competition—Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, and farther away resorts like Crested Butte and Steamboat allow skinning.
The bindings on skis for this activity are unique; while wearing certain ski boots, alpine touring bindings (AT) allow the heel to lift while the toe’s on a hinge and locked in place. With AT bindings, "skins" are applied to the bottom of your skis allowing you to climb up without sliding backwards. Then, for the descent, you are able take the skins off, click your heels back in, and ski downhill like you normally would. Without the racing element, this allows Summit County residents to be able to experience the mountain beyond just downhill skiing.
Shauna Bocksch leads Uphill Access at Copper Mountain. While skinning at Copper has been around for a while, the area has recently made an effort towards promoting safety. To encourage safety at the resort, skinners must stick to designated routes, obey specific time frames, sign a waiver and obtain a reflective arm band each season from the Lower Patrol Room (LPR) at the base of the American Flyer lift. Bocksch says that “[Registration] is for safety and communication reasons. Sometimes we need to alter or close a route due to events or snowcat operations. By registering every year, we have good contact information and can reach these users quickly.”
Starting Tuesday, December 12th, skiers can begin to register for Uphill Access. Once snowmaking has finished and work for the new American Flyer lift is completed, Uphill Access at Copper Mountain will open. According to Bocksch, “This usually happens around January 1st”.
Sometimes, the designated trails are closed due to events or safety concerns. To find out if there are any changes to Uphill Access, call the LPR to check: 970.968.2318 ext. 66131. For more information, visit https://www.coppercolorado.com/the-mountain/mountain-safety/uphill-access.