In Estes, we love to get out and explore the mountains. That’s what makes our town great, the ease of access. However, that ease of access can get you in trouble if you’re not prepared. Outdoor agencies across Colorado have reported a drastic increase in visitation at our outdoor spaces and off-grid winter recreation. Therefore, December 7-13, 2020 has been proclaimed “Colorado Backcountry Winter Safety Awareness Week.” Luckily, Estes is a good place to get acquainted with the backcountry and offers guides, safety classes and beginner terrain.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The two core tenants of backcountry travel are to Know Before You Go and Leave No Trace.
The latter is fairly simple but there are many ways to say it: pack it in, pack it out; take nothing but photos, leave with nothing but face shots (or just some solid turns, not everyday’s a powder day); if you bring it, take it… I think you’ve got the point. Another important note, is to keep wildlife wild. Don’t feed them, no matter how small and cute, and give them plenty of space.
The former, Know Before You Go, has a bit more pieces to it’s puzzle. Familiarize yourself with the terrain you plan to explore, and the inherent dangers it may present. Be aware of your own abilities, and assess whether or not your goals lie within them. Consider the impacts of COVID-19 and how related restrictions may alter your plans before, during or after your adventure.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) has avalanche dangers and forecasts, along with observations and reports of incidents. You can always check in with local gear outfitters and guiding operations for specific, current conditions. If you’re unfamiliar with the terrain, it’s also a great way to get out with the people who know this terrain like the back of their hand, as they live, work and play in it.
COVID-19 Regulations are ever changing, and may affect your planning. Keep up-to-date with Estes’ here.
Looking to up your abilities and learn how to assess terrain and read forecasts? Estes Park is a great place to do so. The Colorado Mountain School and Kent Mountain Adventure Center offer avalanche training and education for all levels, from refreshers for those who know their stuff, to first-timers, including in the field training.