According to Snowsports Industries America, over 5,000,000 people traveled into the backcountry to ski or snowboard during the 2010-2011 season. This means that one in five skiers and snowboarders are venturing beyond the boundaries of ski areas in their pursuit of downhill turns. Major advances in equipment have driven this boost in the popularity, and ski and snowboard shops are responding, offering backcountry specific gear for the aspiring enthusiast and seasoned veteran alike. Whether you are a snowboarder, alpine skier, or telemarker, Breckenridge has a shop to support your backcountry gear needs.
Mountain Wave – 10 Years of Supporting Splitboarding
Hey snowboarders, have you heard? The days of slogging through waist-deep powder on painfully inefficient snowshoes – or even worse, with boots alone – are through! That’s right, splitboarding has hit the mainstream, with several major snowboard companies now producing models for backcountry enthusiasts. Breckenridge’s own Mountain Wave Snowboard Shop rents and sells splitboards from both Never Summer Industries and Venture Snowboards. Kate Kearns, Mountain Wave’s Buyer and Manager, recommends demoing a splitboard setup before purchasing it, as a full setup can be expensive. Mountain Wave offers demos from $50/day, which includes a splitboard, splitboard bindings, and climbing skins. If you are unfamiliar with how a splitboard functions, the staff at Mountain Wave is experienced, friendly, and willing to answer any questions you may have.
Mountain Wave is located at 600 South Park Avenue, Breckenridge, CO, 80424. Check it out online at mtnwavesnowboards.com
Mountain Outfitters – Inspired Alpine Touring
Alpine skiers have been in the backcountry for decades. However, recent shifts in the design of ski equipment have made alpine touring (AT) a much more comfortable and efficient endeavor. Ski manufacturers now produce a wide array of ski shapes, designed to perform on different types of snow – including those encountered in the backcountry. Further, touring-specific binding and boots are light-weight and user friendly. Doug Bittinger, founder and owner of Mountain Outfitters, has seen an increased interest in AT gear in recent years. He mentioned that AT gear serves a wide variety of interests and purposes, from a first-time hut trip participant, to people looking to improve their fitness, to those individuals desiring to try a new way of moving through the snow. AT demo packages start at $52/day, including skis, bindings, skins, and boots. Mountain outfitters also carries an assortment of other backcountry essentials, including avalanche gear, backpacks, and performance outerwear.
Mountain Outfitters is located at 112 South Ridge Street, Breckenridge, CO, 80424. Check the shop out online at mtnoutfitters.com
AMR Ski and Board Rental – Freeing Heels and Freeing Minds
Telemark skiers used to be a lot more easily type-casted; often long-haired and alternative, self-proclaimed celebrators of weird. However, with participation doubling in the past five years, and the related industry attention and gear evolution that comes with that, telemarking is more accessible than ever. AMR features an array of ski options using the New Telemark Norm (NTN) system. This system allows for multiple ski-mounting locations on one base plate, meaning a more customizable setup for each telemarker. The staff at AMR is fun-loving and passionate, excited to introduce people to telemarking, both within the ski area and beyond. Dave Stillman, owner of AMR, described with great detail the benefits of skis made by Faty-pus, ON3P, Moment, 4FRNT, and Faction. Further, AMR carries the latest in Scarpa Boots, a comfortable and reputable company. Demo packages start at $40/day, with discounts being offered for multiple day rentals.
AMR Ski and Board Rental is located in City Market Plaza, Suite #9a, Breckenridge, CO, 80424. Check them out online at amrskishop.com
While the people at Mountain Wave, Mountain Outfitters, and AMR are excited to get you on the latest, greatest, and most individualized gear possible, they all mentioned an essential and significant component of backcountry touring – knowing about the risks before you go. The reality is that backcountry travel presents certain risks, including avalanches, dangerous weather, route-finding, and emergency wilderness medical scenarios. The good news is that Breckenridge, and Summit County as a whole, has many professional resources to educate new backcountry users and to support them in developing safe backcountry travel protocols. For information on Breckenridge’s avalanche education and backcountry guiding options, please read this GoBreck.com post from last winter.