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Winter camping in an offroad camper trailer

BLUEBIRD BACKCOUNTRY: SKIING AND CAMPING OFF GRID

Bluebird Backcountry is a 2-year old, uphill-only ski/snowboard resort outside of Kremmling, Colorado, and we were so excited to spend 2 days there skiing and camping!

Skiing and Camping Off the Grid

Bluebird Backcountry is a 2-year old, uphill-only ski/snowboard resort outside of Kremmling, Colorado, and we were so excited to spend 2 days there  skiing and camping!

Skiing in the Backcountry

For the uninitiated, skiing (or snowboarding) uphill involves a special set of bindings that allow the heel to be free while going up (think telemark skis) and lock in place to go down, skins that stick to the bottom of the ski/board that stick to the snow to prevent sliding downhill, and flexible boots that allow for more range while hiking. It’s a great workout, lets you earn your turns and removes crowds from the equation!

Typically, uphill skiing is done in the backcountry so you’re not on a resort that has groomed runs, ski patrol or avalanche mitigation. Being off grid means the risk is significantly increased and requires that everyone carry a beacon (which sends out a signal for others to find with their beacons if someone becomes buried in the snow of an avalanche), a probe (to stick into the snow to identify where the body is once the beacon finds your location up top), and a shovel (to dig said person out).

In a year that has seen a particularly unstable snowpack the backcountry is not safe for even highly experienced backcountry explorers. It’s been one of the deadliest seasons on record for avalanche fatalities, and that’s something no one wants to hear.

Obviously, this can be more than a little intimidating to someone who does not have the proper education (typically a certified AIARE course helping people identify and avoid the signs of an avalanche zone or trap). That’s where Bluebird comes in.

Backcountry Skiing with an Assist from Bluebird

Bluebird is a hybrid concept in that it does not offer lifts or groomed runs, but it does provide ski patrol and avalanche mitigation. So while you’re still required to carry a beacon/shovel/probe and be accompanied by another person, you are checked out and in and ski patrol uses techniques to significantly reduce the possibility of an avalanche.

The trail map for Bluebird shows two main areas: the West Bowl and the North Face. We stayed in the West Bowl and it was perfect. After a 20 minute hike from the base we arrived to the bottom of the Bowl, and it took about another 20 minutes to get to the top of the ridge (and no one would consider us speed demons). Once at the top we had a gorgeous view of Bear Mountain (where the North Face area is located), the valley leading to Kremmling, and Rabbit Ears Pass headed towards Steamboat Springs.

And now the main perk of no ski lifts: no crowds. Obviously hiking up to the top of a hill isn’t for everyone, but that just means there’s more stashes for the folks that can do it. There were maybe 8 others on the ridge at its most crowded, but by the time we transitioned and packed our skins, re-set our bindings and tightened our boots we were the only ones up there. Yeehaw!

Spring conditions with a run to yourself on a bluebird day at Bluebird Backcountry. Folks, it does not get much better.

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Images by Justin Wilhelm

Camping at Bluebird Backcountry

Another perk: camping! For $25 a night you can secure an off grid camp spot at their dedicated location about 2 miles away. It’s just an open lot with a couple portapotties but when you have an off grid camper trailer like a Boreas XT that’s all you need! We cooked up some brats and peppers in the galley kitchen, fired up the Solo Stove and waited for the stars to come in. The morning started with breakfast sandwiches and coffee, then we closed the galley and drove over to get geared up again.

Bluebird offers rentals and classes so if you’re interested in ditching the crowds (if you have a Boreas then we know that’s part of your DNA already) of a typical resort while still getting some fun ski runs they can get you outfitted and prepared to take on this new challenge.

In addition, if the pandemic makes you question crowds in general right now, Bluebird is a great way to avoid them while still getting that vertical adrenaline.

Bluebird just announced that they’ve signed another lease at their current location in Bear Mountain, and will be there again next year. Their season ends April 4, 2021 so if you don’t get a chance to visit them before then make sure to book a reservation next season! It’s a great way to pair being off grid with exceptional comforts, and that’s what Boreas Campers is all about.

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Images by Justin Baker

Go Winter Camping in the XT

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