Despite a low snow totals across the western mountains, the dollar totals are there. It seems the love for getting out and playing in the mountains is making it rain. Here’s a look.

Rocky Mountain High

Colorado closed its second-busiest ski season on record in 2016-17, with more than 13 million skier visits.

And considering that many ski areas lease their resorts from the United States Forest Service, that’s some serious revenue, in Colorado alone a whopping $23 million went to Uncle Sam.

Some three million pairs of alpine ski boots are sold each year worldwide. If the average cost of a new ski boot is $300, that’s $9 million.

Outback Uprising

In a report issued by the U.S. Forest Service, backcountry skiing and snowboarding is expected to increase by up to 106 percent in the next 30 years.

Six million skiers and snowboarders headed out into the backcountry winter 2013-14, according to Snowsports Industries America. That’s up five million from 2010-11 season.

Cha-ching! For gear manufacturers, that adds up to major sales, nearly $50 million in gear sales annually and much of that goes to safety equipment.

Serious Business

Avalanches cause more fatalities in national forests than any other natural hazard, according to the National Avalanche Center. And Colorado is the No. 1 offender.

Snow Savvy

In the U.S., more than 90 course providers and 250 professional instructors represent the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE.)

Very recently, educators have begun a new, updated practicum for in-avalanche education.

Avalanche awareness is growing with recreational backcountry users, thanks to nonprofit public education campaigns like Southwest Colorado’s Friends of the San Juans ( or the national Know Before You Go (

Meet one of the most innovative avalanche research practitioners in the world, Manual Genswein, at