Crisp air, fresh snow, and amazing sunrises are par for the course when skinning up the ski hill before the resort opens. "Randonee" skiing, also known as Alpine Trekking or AT (and more affectionately referred to as “skinning”) is the act of ascending a mountain using one’s own power and specialized ski bindings and “skins” that attach to the bottom of skis. Skins are held to the bottom of the ski with a sticky substance and allow the ski to glide one way while gripping the other. Skins were originally made with animal skin, such as seal skin, which is where their name originated. Modern skins are made with artificial material with fibers that hold the skis from sliding back down as the skier glides forward up the hill.
Skinning has been growing in popularity as more and more people opt to skip the lift lines and ski using their own power. Arapahoe Basin is by far the most popular Summit County ski area for locals to skin in the early morning. Every morning as first light hits the peaks before the lifts start turning, a large group of dedicated locals take to the slopes to get some early morning exercise and get the first turns of the day. Breckenridge and Keystone are close second in popularity and each resort hosts randonee races every year.
Skinning at Arapahoe Basin is a treat that more and more people are starting to take advantage of. In order to facilitate some guidelines for the large crowds that descend on the resort every morning, A-basin requires uphill users to get a free Uphill Access Pass from the season pass office during operating hours. The uphill pass is designed to give the resort an opportunity to go over the rules for uphill access with individuals who are interested in participating. You can even bring your dog skinning at Abasin, as long as you are off the mountain by the time they open.
Breckenridge Ski Resort does not require uphill users to get a pass prior to partaking in skinning up the resort, but they do require all uphill users to stay on designated uphill routes. The also ask that uphill users call the cat hotline at 970-547-5627 every morning before starting uphill. The hotline will allow the resort to control which routes uphill skiers take so they can avoid disrupting grooming operations. The list of approved uphill routes for Breckenridge can be found below. For a full list of rules and regulations for uphill users at Breckenridge ski resort, follow this link.
- Peak 7: Fort Mary B > Claimjumper > Lower Forget Me Not > top of Independence chair - return down the same route.
- Peak 8:
- Springmeier > Upper 4 O’clock > Lonewolf Access > T-Bar Hut – return down the same route.
- Gondola Ski Back > Lower 4 O’clock > Springmeier
- Lower 4 O’clock from town > Springmeier
- All uphill guests on Peak 8 must be at or below Vista Haus by 7:45 a.m. due to ski patrol work.
- Peak 9: Silverthorne > Lower American > Bonanza > top Beaver Run chair or top of Mercury chair - return down same route.
- Peak 10: Silverthorne > Red Rover > Crystal > top of Falcon chair – return down the same route.
- Peak 6: Closed to uphill access for the 2017-2018 season.
Skinning at Keystone is not as controlled as the other Summit County resorts. You don’t need to have an uphill pass like you do for Abasin, and you do not need to follow a specific route like you do at Breckenridge. Uphill users are however expected to be off the mountain by opening time and are expected to follow other rules that can be found at this link.
Copper Mountain’s uphill access users are required to get an uphill user pass and are required to follow designated routes that can be found here. Uphill users are also required to turn around before the restrooms at the top of Collage before the resort opens. Uphill users at Copper Mountain are encouraged to contact ski patrol at 970.968.2318 ext. 66131 before venturing out to ensure they know where to avoid
Want to give it a try?
Skinning at the local ski resorts is an excellent activity to try during your next visit to Summit County. If you would like to give skinning a try, you can rent the equipment you need from Blue River Sports in Breckenridge. Check out some of our properties that are located close to the slopes and perfect for early morning access to the ski resorts. If you have any questions or would like help planning your Summit County vacation, give Summit Mountain Rentals a call today at (970) 453-7370!