Private entrepreneurs pilot a new concept in human-powered skiing near Kremmling, Colorado

Photographer John LaGuardia was invited to photograph a one-off idea in human-powered skiing near Kremmling, Colorado, where a handful of backcountry skiers were provided access to ski private slopes for a small fee. The participants apparently got a bargain: a day of fun participating in a novel concept, with eats and cocoa included.

LaGuardia began by sending in one photo through this website’s “Share a Photo” link. The editorial team’s interest was piqued. One question led to another, resulting in John expanding his caption to the below story. He also submitted additional photos so you, the reader, can get a better idea of the opportunity at Bluebird Backcountry.

To avoid the crowds at Bluebird Backcountry, there are many options for backcountry skiing and split boarding at the human-powered ski area.John LaGuardia

Here’s John LaGuardia’s story and photos:

The Kremmling, Colorado, area is not known for backcountry skiing. In fact, it is situated on Highway 40 between two major ski areas − Winter Park and Steamboat Springs − and is often thought of as private farmland in the foothills.

Foam Finger
Backcountry skiers set out on an afternoon adventure to ski the Foam Finger run at Peak Ranch. John LaGuardia

However, this past year a couple of backcountry skiers had the idea to give newcomers to the sport a “backcountry lite” experience. They pilot-tested the opening of a human-powered backcountry ski area for a fraction of the cost of a normal resort. Providing rental equipment, instruction and a variety of terrain, Bluebird Backcountry opened for 15 days on some private land at a place called Peak Ranch. 

Bluebird billboard
Whiteley Peak is where? A Bluebird Backcountry patron surveys the area map for his next ski tour on Thursday, March 5, at Peak Ranch near Kremmling, Colorado.John LaGuardia

I was invited to tag along on March 5 to help with photography. While I was there, I also helped with getting their rental boot fleet stocked up. After that, I skinned up to “The Perch” at Basecamp 2. There, I cooked bacon and whipped up hot chocolate for guests. It was a very unique experience for the guests.

Peak Ranch
Backcountry skiers and split boarders head up the Eagle skin track at Peak Ranch to ski and snowboard in the open meadows.John LaGuardia

In between the small waves of visitors, I got out on the slopes with the president of RAB USA and a couple of editors from Backcountry and Outdoor magazines. We made a few runs in the backcountry and I documented the day with some photographs, including these you’re seeing here.

ski turns
Located on a private ranch called Peak Ranch, Bluebird Backcountry has more than 400 acres of avalanche evaluated terrain to enjoy on your own. Another 1,100 acres exist for guided tour options as well.John LaGuardia
The Perch
A skier heads back down to the base after snagging a free hot chocolate and fresh bacon at The Perch warming hut.John LaGuardia

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