Crush Your First Winter Camping Trip

Cold weather camping is a whole different beast — after all, it’s hard enough to want to leave the confines of our cozy sleeping bag even on a high alpine start in the summer. While the thought of roughing it in frigid temps may sound daunting, there are simple ways to embrace the chill and appreciate the facets of cold weather camping that make it so special. Read on for all the reasons you can – and SHOULD – crush your first winter camping trip at Camp Bluebird.

Location, Location, Location

Just like camping the rest of the year, be sure to park your rig in an amazing spot! You’ll want stellar views, a quiet place away from busy roads, and easy access to outdoor activities. Luckily, Bluebird’s new camping spot offers all three.

Now available in the main parking area at Bluebird’s base, your morning view will be the sun spilling over the glistening snowy peaks of Bear Mountain. More of a night owl? We promise our starry night skies will beat the socks off of anything you’ve seen in the Front Range. And thanks to our new location, you’re tucked away from road noise for a quiet and peaceful camping experience. But the best part of all is that you have zero commute to the best backcountry skiing northwest Colorado has to offer. No race to the parking lot, no I-70 traffic — just first dibs on powder turns all weekend long.

Camp with Amenities

We all have that friend on a camping trip who needs access to a bathroom every morning no matter what. Bathroom lovers rejoice, because Bluebird has you covered. Portable restrooms are available for campers all hours of the day and night, in addition to other superb amenities.

In the 2021/2022 Season, Bluebird has added a larger community area with picnic tables and a communal fire pit. So you have plenty of room in the evening to prep and cook your 12-ounce sirloin (well-deserved) or sip cider by the fire as you debate with friends which slope had the best powder turns of the day.

We also have a camp host on site all season long, so if your car battery tanks or your ride gets stuck in the fresh pow, we’re here to help.

Bring the Heat

Perhaps we’re stating the obvious, but staying warm is a top priority for winter camping. Luckily, keeping toasty doesn’t mean you have to have a tricked out camper van. With just a few steps, you, too, can sleep pleasantly through the night.

  • First, pack a warm bag! For a general rule of thumb, go with a sleeping bag that is rated for ten degrees lower than the outside temperatures. So if nighttime temps are dropping to 20 degrees, then go with a 10-degree bag — or a 0-degree bag if you run cold.
  • Second, sleeping pads are important for maximizing warmth and comfort too. If you don’t have a four-season pad, then stack two sleeping pads on top of each other or lay down a blanket for additional insulation.
  • Third, get into bed warm. Spend your evenings around the Bluebird shared campfire, telling ski stories before retreating to your sleeping bag. When you do turn in for the night, do a round of pushups to increase your body temperature before crawling into bed. You can also pour hot water into a Nalgene and tuck it away at your feet for an insulated bottle that will put off heat all night long.

Fuel Up

Unless you’re training for Everest or an intense winter backpacking expedition, there’s no need to pack light. That means you can travel with your gourmet espresso machine or your portable grill to start the day right. In fact, we encourage it, because fueling well is essential to shredding the slopes all day long.

But in case you forget your cooking fuel at home or you just want to hop in the car and go, we have you covered. Breakfast burritos and hot coffee are available for purchase every morning, and we have a variety of camping friendly foods available throughout the day as well. Have a suggestion on snacks and foods you’d like to see more of? Let us know over at Bluebird Backcountry Community.

Bring (or Meet) a Friend

Epic adventures build character — and friendship. So grab a friend and plan your first (or your 50th) winter camping trip at Bluebird Backcountry together. Camping at Bluebird costs just $25 per vehicle, so having a secondary heat-producer in your rig comes at no additional cost.

Or if you’re visiting solo, we love that too. We’re all about community at Bluebird, so bring yourself and s’more supplies and we guarantee you’ll be making friends and meeting new ski buddies in no time.

two women backcountry touring

Build the Stoke

Like any great adventure, the key to winter camping starts with getting stoked! Set a goal for the amount of vert you and a partner want to ski over the weekend, or test your skills on one of Bluebird’s new steeps. Make it your objective to get first tracks down The West Bowl on a powder day, or see who can transition the fastest at the top of Bear Mountain.

Whatever the reason, your winter camping will be all the more fun when it’s paired with a stoke-filled objective at Colorado’s one and only backcountry ski resort. Want more ideas? Check out our Events Calendar for a list of awesome activities happening at Bluebird.

Ready to toss the camping gear in the car and come stay with us? Purchase your Day Passes or Multi-Packs and reserve your camping experience today!

Need more info? Visit our Camping Page for more information and FAQs.

Weekly Update : Events + Courses

Week of January 20th, 2022

There’s an extra cool event planned at Bluebird this weekend, new terrain opening (stay tuned for updates), plus a schedule full of lessons, an Avalanche Refresher Course, and an AIARE Rescue Course. Check out the full events calendar and lineup of  backcountry education lessons, advanced courses and avalanche courses below!

One of Bluebird’s newest runs, named after one of the all-time best skintrack snacks. Photo: Erik Lambert

Thursday, Jan. 20

  • Dog Days at Bluebird – learn more and get your dog pass here.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson – book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 3 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

Friday, Jan. 21

  • Dog Days at Bluebird — learn more and get your dog pass here.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 2 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

Saturday, Jan. 22

  • Beacon Seekin’ Saturday — 2 – 3 pm at the base area. Practice your rescue skills and dig some prizes out of the snow! More info.
  • Geology Tour of Bear Mountain — 12:30 – 2:30 pm. SPECIAL EVENT, lead by a professor of Geology — learn all about the volcanos surrounding Bluebird while skinning and riding. Sign up now, there’s a limited number of spots!
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 3 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.
  • Equipment Maintenance & Repairs — NEW THIS SEASON, learn more and sign up here.
  • Avalanche Refresher Course — learn more and sign up here.

Sunday, Jan. 23

  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 2 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

Monday, Jan. 24

  • Dog Days at Bluebird — learn more and get your dog pass here.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

AIARE Courses

  • Sunday, Jan.  23— AIARE Avalanche Rescue – there are a few spots still available! Learn more and sign up here.

Find out more about Bluebird’s Education Program and sign up for courses here. Learn more about Bluebird’s AIARE Avalanche Education courses on our website. You can also find our full events calendar on our website — plan your next trip to Bluebird around one of exciting onsite events, Backcountry Lessons, Advanced Courses or Avalanche Courses this season!

See you on the mountain!

 

10,500 Feet Above Bear Mountain: How Three Bluebirds Trained for Denali

Last season, three of Bluebird’s employees made a plan on the skin track of Bear Mountain to summit Denali in the spring of 2021. John Beye, a passionate skier and Bluebird’s 2020/2021 base area manager, was a part of this team. In this blog, John tells an enticing story of their training at Bluebird and their adventure on Denali. The group’s training experience galvanized the development of a new advanced course at Bluebird Backcountry — Ski Mountaineering 1 — an incredible opportunity to learn from experts and get acquainted to the world of ski mountaineering in the best classroom around.

The following article was written by John Beye.


Bear Mountain, the highest peak at Bluebird Backcountry, tops out at 9,845 feet. While not the highest summit in North America, Bear — and the surrounding terrain at Bluebird — does provide an excellent training ground for those with their eyes set on big mountain objectives. From the novice stepping into tech bindings for the first time to the experienced shredder opting to avoid suspect avalanche forecasts, Bluebird Backcountry happily plays host to all backcountry skiers hoping to progress in the sport. For three Bluebird staff members this past spring, that very progression brought them to the summit of Denali — a peak 10,500 feet taller than the highpoint of our backyard Bear Mountain.

Bluebird Backcountry boasts a small, passionate staff who are all motivated by maximizing their time in the mountains while helping others do the same. If you visited last winter, you surely met some of them on the skin track. What you may not have noticed, though, is the discrete training being done by a select few in preparation for skiing off the top of North America’s highest peak.

You may have taken a backcountry ski lesson with Menno. What he probably didn’t tell you was that his backpack was weighted down with climbing ropes for a little bit of extra uphill weight. Perhaps you stopped to visit Sam and snag some midday bacon at The Perch. Did you happen to notice him setting up snow anchors and running crevasse rescue drills outside? Maybe you were lucky enough to catch one of the on-mountain popup barbecue events in the spring. If so, you can thank John for multitasking by hauling sleds full of Denali training weight… err… propane tanks and all of the grilling necessities deep into The Hundred Acre Woods.

John Beye training for his expeditions at Bear Mountain. Photo courtesy of John Beye.

Strangers before the Bluebird season, Menno, Sam, and John became quick friends at Bear Mountain. Menno and John were roommates in Kremmling at a house more full of ski mountaineers than ski bums (read: a case of PBR lasted over two months), and it wasn’t long before discussions of skiing Denali percolated into the evening conversations. A climbing permit for late May was secured by early March for two teams; John and Menno with a few other friends, and Sam accompanied by other climbing partners.  

For Sam, Covid-19 had shut down the entire 2020 Denali climbing season and pushed his previously planned expedition to spring 2021 instead. With a little bit of luck, both teams landed climbing permits within one day of each other and would become serendipitous neighbors for nearly three weeks on the glaciers leading up to North America’s tallest peak.  

Of course, “one does not simply walk onto Denali,” and the final months of the Bluebird operating season were filled with physical training, skills practice, and gear talk. Menno, Sam, and John spent hours touring uphill with unnecessarily heavy backpacks, perfecting their rigging systems for hauling sleds, sharing food and gear strategies, and ensuring that systems were dialed should anyone take the plunge into one of the many man-eating crevasses of the Alaska Range. When it comes to big objectives, planning is all part of the fun and watching the pieces come together can be nearly as rewarding as the climb itself.

As winter drew to a close in Colorado and the end-of-season staff party came and went, all eyes were focused on The Last Frontier. Sam returned to The Front Range to log some vertical on a few famed 14ers, while Menno and John headed to the Pacific Northwest for an abbreviated volcano tour that would allow for more glacier practice and big single day ski descents on some classic lines.  

Everything was slowly coming into focus, and before long these three members of the Bluebird flock would be reunited on the Talkeetna airstrip — patiently waiting for weather to clear and for their chance to land on the Kahiltna Glacier en route to the roof of North America.

With a classic Alaska Range storm brewing high in the mountains, one day bled into the next while Sam, Menno, John and their respective teams sat patiently — biding their time in quintessential small town Alaska. Finally, after a few unplanned days in Talkeetna, Sam’s team got word that their pilot was going to shoot a weather window and get them onto the Kahiltna. Menno and John enviously waved from the airstrip, knowing they would reconnect somewhere up high when the weather would allow for their safe passage in a smaller aircraft.

Menno, Sam, and John wait at the airstrip for a weather window. Photo: John Beye

Thankfully they didn’t have to wait long. By 1:00pm the following afternoon, their team was hastily unpacking the plane, rigging sleds, roping up, and eagerly starting the long push across the Lower Kahiltna Glacier — each with 125 lbs of gear in tow. 

The lower mountain proved uneventful in all the best ways. Blue skies, reflective solar heat, and solid snow bridges paved the way from the icy airstrip all the way to 11,000 feet — a destination reached by both teams in a couple full days of glacier travel. From there on, the climb gets a bit more technical and consequential as expeditions navigate Windy Corner — the crux separating the lower elevations from the majesty of the Upper Mountain.  

At this point, Sam’s and John/Menno’s teams had reunited and were back on the same program, advancing to 14 Camp in less than a week from first landing on the glacier. The average summit bid on Denali is 18 days, and our Bluebird representatives were well on their way to bringing that number down. The move to 14,000 feet, though grueling, went smoothly and both teams now had a solid high elevation base camp to acclimatize, strategize, and — duh — ski.

Though still largely a minority, each year an increasing amount of climbers on Denali are opting to attempt to ski at least some of the mountain in hopes of increasing their efficiency — and in some regards safety — when traveling over the highly glaciated terrain. This, in conjunction with attempting a summit straight from 14,000 feet (skipping the more common overnight camp at 17,000 feet) are what the National Park Service would consider disturbing plans. With skis and splitboards underfoot and ambitions to summit in one long push from 14 Camp, the Bluebird teams followed both of these plans. 

For these three and their accompanying teammates, having skis at 14,000 feet was nothing short of a necessity. While Denali may have had one of its worst snow years in some time in 2021, the aesthetics of skiing out of camp at 14,000 feet cannot be beat. Big sweeping views and Goliath seracs abound, and navigating boot-top powder in this high altitude playground can be a far more enjoyable way to acclimatize than jumping jacks or hiking up and down the fixed lines of The Headwall.

Evenings at 14 Camp were largely spent cooking good food, playing games, and eagerly gathering weather forecasts to plan for the encroaching summit day ahead. Remarkably fair weather blessed the beginning of June in the Alaska Range, and when surrounding expeditions started to move to 17,000 feet, the Bluebird crew knew it was go-time. Weather moved in on Sam’s expedition during their first attempt and forced an early retreat back to camp from 17,000 feet. While their expedition regrouped the following day, John and Menno’s team saw another weather window and made a run for it.

One of the team’s three camps on Denali. Photo: John Beye

The blessing of Alaska in the summertime is that alpine starts are rarely a necessity, given the amount of daylight available to climbers. As such, summit day started around 7:30am and before long the crew had ascended The Headwall on the fixed lines, navigated the breathtaking ridgeline at 16,000 feet, and cruised through 17 Camp by 11am.  From there, the high consequence terrain of The Audubon and Denali Pass at 18,200 feet awaited — but even that leg passed quickly. The push across the high elevation plateau leading to the summit can be a slog, but with good weather this section proved more mental than anything. As evening approached, the team waited at the base of the summit ridge for expeditions ahead of them to finish their descent. Not only did this offer an increased margin of safety but, by the time they reached the top, Menno and John’s team had the roof of North America entirely to themselves. Tears, laughter, and summit selfies followed, and the calm Alaskan evening meant that the Hawaiian shirts could happily come out — even at 20,310 feet above sea level.

John & Menno’s team on the summit of Denali. Photo: John Beye

With any mountain, climbing is only half the battle and success is truly marked by returning home. It was time to click into skis and begin the descent back to 14 Camp. Dropping off of the summit of Denali was almost everything this crew could have hoped for, but the real ski objectives begin right around 19,000 feet. Given the atrocious conditions visible from 14 Camp, the Messner Couloir was very clearly not going to be an option. That left the Orient Express (OE) as the next best classic descent. After nosing into this couloir’s entrance, and debating for what seemed like an eternity, the four retreated for a more mellow return down Denali’s West Buttress. Though discouraged, this decision was vindicated by a roped up expedition climbing up the OE by placing ice screws and swinging tools on their summit attempt later that same evening. 

As if the mountain chose to reward this conservative decision, the ski back to and down Denali Pass was fast and fun. At no point would one assume that the highlight of a ski expedition on Denali would be walking downhill. However, against all odds, retracing their steps down 16 Ridge with skis firmly attached to packs and the sun dipping below the horizon was pure magic. The Alaska Range was aflame in alpenglow and the entire reality of a successful expedition finally set in as midnight neared at 16,000 feet in a true alpine kingdom.

Exhausted, the team of four rolled into 14 Camp and straight into their tents for a night of fatigued and fitful sleep. The bliss and relief when waking up the morning following a successful summit bid of this magnitude is indescribable. John and Menno’s team reached, and skied off, the summit of Denali on the 13th day of their expedition — many days ahead of the mountain average. Of the just over 1,000 climbers on Denali this season, 53% reached the top. Sam’s team would have an equally rewarding, emotional, and successful summit bid two days later, bringing the summit percentage for Bluebird employees in 2021 to 100%.  

The descent from 14,000 feet provided the final reward of two and half weeks on the mountain, offering a contemplative 7,000-foot descent past Windy Corner, through the previous camp at 11,000 feet, and across the Lower Kahiltna Glacier back to the airstrip. The final night on the mountain was spent in revelry by enjoying the beer and junk food cached at the airstrip weeks ago, before laying out insulating pads on the snow and catching some shuteye under The Midnight Sun.

Menno descending Ridge 16 on Denali. Photo: John Beye

It takes years of skill development and mountain acumen, the right partners, months of preparation… and sometimes even a little bit of luck… for expedition dreams to transform into reality. 

To tackle something as ambitious as a ski descent from the tallest peak in North America, everything needs to work out perfectly. Large multi-day expeditions require an incredible amount of planning and foresight, a willingness to intentionally exist in uncomfortable situations, and an insatiable desire to push oneself in the mountains. While over 10,000 feet lower than Denali, Bear Mountain provides the perfect venue to learn and practice some of these skills while building the necessary awareness and fitness to start dreaming of mountains the world over. At Bluebird Backcountry the final critical piece of the puzzle — strong partners and mentors, a supportive community, and lasting friendships — are also readily available.

There are many incredible places to visit and memories to be made as you continue to push yourself in the mountains. This winter, whether you are stepping into backcountry skis for the first time or have a big expedition already on the calendar, Bear Mountain and the surrounding terrain is there to support your personal progression in backcountry learning — whatever that may be. And if you happen to run into Sam, Menno, or John at Bluebird this year, don’t be afraid to ask if their packs are yet again full of training weight, in preparation for their next grand adventure.


If this story inspired you to explore high mountains on your skis or splitboard, Bluebird’s Ski Mountaineering 1 course is the perfect introduction to what the world of ski mountaineering is all about! Instructed by the second woman to ski all of Colorado’s 14ers and all-around highly accomplished Brittany Konsella, you’re in for a knowledgeable and fun-filled day course.

Weekly Update : Events + Courses

Week of January 13th, 2022

The conditions at Bluebird were amazing last week, and this weekend the sun will be shining on some fresh snow — perfect touring weather! There are fun events and a full lineup of  backcountry education lessons, advanced courses and avalanche courses on the calendar. Check out the complete schedule below and come celebrate the long weekend at Bluebird!

Our team scoping out the backside of Bear Mountain after last weekend’s storm. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

Thursday, Jan. 13

  • Dog Days at Bluebird – learn more and get your dog pass here.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson – book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

Friday, Jan. 14

  • Dog Days at Bluebird — learn more and get your dog pass here.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 2 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.
  • Avalanche Refresher Course – learn more and sign up here.

Saturday, Jan. 15

  • Beacon Seekin’ Saturday — 2 – 3 pm at the base area. Practice your rescue skills and dig some prizes out of the snow! More info.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 2 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

Sunday, Jan. 16

  • Live Music — A Steamboat favorite, solo acoustic musician Jon Fog, 1 – 3 pm at the base area. More info.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 3 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

Monday, Jan. 17

  • Dog Days at Bluebird — learn more and get your dog pass here.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 2 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 3 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

AIARE Courses

  • Saturday, Jan. 15 — AIARE Avalanche Rescue – there are a few spots still available! Learn more and sign up here.
  • Monday, Jan. 17 – Wednesday, Jan. 19 — AIARE 1SOLD OUT! See more course dates here.

Find out more about Bluebird’s Education Program and sign up for courses here. Learn more about Bluebird’s AIARE Avalanche Education courses on our website. You can also find our full events calendar on our website — plan your next trip to Bluebird around one of exciting onsite events, Backcountry Lessons, Advanced Courses or Avalanche Courses this season!

See you on the mountain!

 

Weekly Update : Events + Courses

Week of January 6th, 2022

We are rolling into our second operating week of the 2021/2022 season full steam ahead. Snow is on the forecast for the next 5 days, our calendar is staked with fun events and there’s backcountry education lessons and advanced courses for everyone this week. Check out the complete schedule below!

 

Shasta, Bluebird’s lead Powder Pawtrol, and Amelia Altavena work their way up the Into the Woodwards skintrack. Photo: Jeff Woodward

Thursday, Jan. 6

  • Dog Days at Bluebird – learn more and get your dog pass here.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson – book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 2 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

Friday, Jan. 7

  • Dog Days at Bluebird — learn more and get your dog pass here.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 3 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.
  • Avalanche Refresher Course – learn more and sign up here.

Saturday, Jan. 8

  • Beacon Seekin’ Saturday — 2 – 3 pm at the base area. Practice your rescue skills and dig some prizes out of the snow! More info.
  • Live Music — Jeff Lambert & JC McKim, 2 – 4 pm at the base area. More info.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 2 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — available to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

Sunday, Jan. 9

  • Solar Sunday BBQ & Games — Sponsored by our solar partners Elevated Independent Energy, hot food from 12 – 2 pm and snacks from 2 – 4 pm at the base area. More info.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 2 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — available to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

Monday, Jan. 10

  • Dog Days at Bluebird — learn more and get your dog pass here.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 3 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — available to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.
  • Backcountry 4 : Reading TerrainNEW ADVANCED COURSE THIS SEASON! — Book your lesson here.

Find out more about Bluebird’s Education Program and sign up for courses here. You can find our full events calendar on our website — plan your next trip to Bluebird around one of exciting onsite events, Backcountry Lessons or Advanced Courses this season!

The Perch, our mid-mountain warming hut, is up and running again — and free bacon is back! There’s lots of new snow and fun turns to be had.

See you on the mountain!

 

21/22 Opening Day: What to Expect

Opening Day is this Thursday, December 30th!

Bluebird’s back for our second full season at Bear Mountain! We’re incredibly excited to welcome and introduce you to all sorts of terrain, new events, and new friends this year. After a slow start to the snow season, Mother Nature is back in full force, delivering more than 24″ of snow with the last storm cycle.

Welcome Back

This year, you’ll recognize a number of familiar faces, from our helpful guest services team to our friendly ski patrol. We’ve been waiting months to host you back at Bear Mountain, and will help you get acquainted with the new terrain on Bear Mountain, which is scheduled to open in January. More than 50 volunteers helped glade the north and east faces of the mountain (eight new runs), and we’re excited to open five couloirs and steep faces when conditions allow. The best part? We expect to open Bear Mountain much earlier than last season! Stay tuned for updates on upcoming terrain openings.

What’s Open

We expect to have almost all of the West Bowl corridor (pictured above) ready for you to lay down fresh tracks. Click here to view trail map. This includes hundreds of acres of green and blue skiing as well as the following skin tracks:

  • West Bowl 
  • Lost in the Woodwards (pictured below)
  • Meat Hill 
  • The Shire 

The Perch, our mid-mountain warming hut, is up and running again — and free bacon is back! Meet new friends by the fire pit or hop inside to keep your toes warm by the wood stove (please bring a mask for indoors).

Camping has moved on-site to the Bear Mountain parking lot! Reservations are required, and camping passes are available for purchase online. Learn more about camping at Bluebird.

As a reminder, private heated domes courtesy of Gravity Haus are also available to rent for the 21/22 season. You’ll have access all day to hang out with friends, get away from the elements, stash your gear, and enjoy a midday snack. Reserve yours here.

Co-founder Jeff Woodward skiing West Bowl

Events This Week & Beyond

On Opening Day, we will have a Dog Costume Contest. Winner will be announced at 1:30 p.m., and the best-dressed pup will win a custom Bluebird bandana.

Starting Friday and heading into Saturday, come say farewell to 2021 and hello to 2022 in style with our New Year Celebration. The base area will host a dance party, ski films, champagne toast, and photo ops at our “out of service” chairlift photo booth. Plus, Beacon Seekin’ Saturdays are back, offering participants the chance to win an advanced education course of their choice ($150-195) value, a limited edition Bluebird trucker hat, a Black Diamond beanie, a free burrito and more!

Join us for Dog Days every weekday, and make sure to check out our full lineup of new advanced courses, including an advanced plus education membership. Spots are filling fast, so make sure to reserve your class today.

Looking Ahead

Another storm is coming in this Friday, with OpenSnow calling for up to 10 inches of fresh snow accumulation throughout the day. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for bluebird powder days with more terrain opening over the weekend. Please check back for more conditions updates.

We’re also in the process of getting our liquor license this season! We’re looking forward to upping our après game and will keep you updated as we turn this dream into a reality.

 

Looking to join us for a day or two this winter? For a limited time, take 10% off day passes and rentals when you use the code OPEN1230 at checkout, valid for any date this season. Hurry! Code expires December 30th at midnight. Click here to purchase.

How to Prepare for a Season of Backcountry Touring

Get your gear and yourself ready for the Best. Season. Ever.

As the snow starts to accumulate at higher elevations, a spark is lit in the backcountry community—it is time to start preparing for the winter ahead. Just like transitions when touring, a planned process helps dust off the skis and bindings and get one thinking about avalanches, decision-making and winter conditions in the backcountry. Here’s are the areas we suggest adding to your preparation process:

Bluebird Backcountry guest checks to make sure the tail end of his skins is properly secured. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

Check Your Gear

Pull out your skis, boots, and poles to check for any cracks, missing screws, or damaged pieces. Make sure the glue on your skins is not glopping up and the tip and tail pieces are in working order. Did you take a fall in your helmet last season or is it more than 5 years old? If so, it’s time to replace it. 

The final step in checking gear is inspecting your avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe. Start by putting fresh batteries in your beacon, then check to make sure all the lights work and the search and send functions are properly operating. An added step in preparation is to do a range test with your beacon to see if it’s reading off accurate distances. This task is not hard as it may sound—simply pace out 3 meters in a driveway, place a beacon at one end in the search mode, then test your beacon to make sure it reads around 3 meters. Move 1 meter closer and check the reading on your beacon. Do this until you are within 1 meter. The final step is to check your shovel and probe for any cracks, and make sure the locking mechanisms are in working order. Finally, check the cable/wire in your probe to see if it is ripped or fraying in any place.

Physically Prepare

Getting in physical shape for touring makes the experience far more enjoyable. Backcountry skiing and splitboarding requires a lot of physical strength in more than just your legs, so doing some well-rounded total-body workouts along with cardio is really beneficial to get the most out of the downhill after working hard on the uphill. The better shape you’re in, the more laps you can do!

Mentally Prepare

A significant focus of avalanche education is understanding our own heuristics—the mental shortcuts or patterns that allow us to make decisions and solve problems. These heuristics influence trip plans, decisions made prior to touring and while in the mountains, and how we deal with unexpected situations. Think about the inherent dangers of backcountry touring, dig into how you make decisions, know where your blind spots are—are you motivated by powder or easily succumb to what other people think is right without voicing your opinion? Taking the time to understand your mental processing and decision making leads you to being an aware and reliable backcountry rider and partner.

Bluebird AIARE instructor demonstrates how to take notes while digging a snow pit. Photo: Erik Lambert

Refresh Your Skills with Continued Education and Practice

Another major factor of mentally preparing is reviewing avalanche education materials and continuing to learn. This step is so critical in the mental preparation area that it gets its own category. Before the season begins, make sure to review your avalanche education materials, sign up for an Avy Refresher Course, and practice with your rescue gear. Then practice again and again! Revisiting avalanche education materials before the season begins is a great way to both mentally prepare and get stoked for backcountry adventures. Focus on reviewing the following areas: avalanche rescue, trip planning and touring in a group, how to do a proper debrief, weather/snow conditions leading to specific avalanche hazards, tracking the snowpack. If you’ve never taken an avalanche course and plan to recreate in the backcountry this winter, we highly recommend signing up for an AIARE 1. If you don’t feel experienced enough to do that yet, come take our Backcountry 1–3 lessons at Bluebird to get practice with touring equipment and basic backcountry skills.

Start to Track the Conditions

If you’ve taken your AIARE Rec 1 or 2, you know how important it is to understand what’s happened over the entire season in order to track the current avalanche danger. The day your local forecasting center starts writing forecasts for the winter (usually at the beginning to mid-November), start reading them! Sign up for daily forecast emails and make a habit of reading the forecast with your morning coffee. CAIC (Colorado Avalanche Information Center) is the forecasting center for all mountain ranges in Colorado, check out their website! Focus on the Avalanche Hazard Rating and the General Summary along with tracking the type of avalanche problem, then dive deeper into the Forecast Discussion and Observations if you’re more experienced. As you start to tour in the early season, make note of what you’re seeing happen with weather changes (crusts forming, fresh snow, rain on snow, etc.). This will assist you in understanding what’s happening on top of and within the snowpack. After all, in general the layers of highest concern lie buried below the surface.

Find Appropriate Partners

One of the most challenging parts of touring is finding backcountry ski/snowboard partners that have similar goals and the necessary education to travel responsibly in and around avalanche terrain. The first step is to get the education yourself—be the best backcountry partner you can—then be honest with what your education and experience levels are when looking for partners. Meeting partners in avalanche education courses is always a great option, or consider checking out our Partner Finder on Bluebird Backcountry Community. Come to Bluebird with someone who you’re interested in touring with as a low-consequence trial day before planning a bigger tour day.

Backcountry partners pause mid-tour to discuss their objectives and get a sense of their location. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

The 6 steps outlined above are a great starting point to prepare for a winter and spring of backcountry touring. The process outlined above is time-tested by avalanche professionals and guides, encompassing the most critical preparation steps in order to keep returning for more powder turns, and winters, in the backcountry!

Give the gift of an unforgettable experience this winter

 

Gifts for Backcountry Beginners

Whether your loved one is new to touring, you’re itching to get your kids into the backcountry, or you want to give an unforgettable experience to someone close… they will love it.

 

Gifts for Seasoned Riders

Bluebird is not just for beginners. With tons of new expert terrain and advanced courses for all levels, you can find the right experience for any backcountry enthusiast.

Gifts for Your Four-legged Friends

Don’t forget to share the holiday cheer with your pups this year.

Staff Picks

Here’s what our staff is extra stoked about this winter.

Not sure what they will want?

Give a digital Gift Voucher.

No need to fret about picking the perfect gift, let them choose their own adventure! We’ve made it easy… get a gift voucher that’s good for anything in our shop: from passes to courses to merchandise. Vouchers range from $25 to $500. 

Ultimate Partner Gifts

Set up your best backcountry buds for the Best. Winter. Ever.

Stocking Stuffers

Looking for something small but special? We’ve got you covered with the perfect options for skiers and riders.

What’s Next After Backcountry Basics and Your AIARE 1?

Last year you completed Bluebird’s Backcountry 1–3 lessons, then ended the season with an AIARE 1. Or maybe you’ve taken AIARE 1 and 2 and are looking to take your touring to the next level… So what’s next? 

At Bluebird, we believe in the importance of instruction and mentorship before jumping into the deep end of backcountry touring and big-mountain objectives. That’s why we’ve added Advanced Courses to our education program this season. These courses are designed for more experienced backcountry travelers. These courses offer hands-on instruction of technical skills, along with time to practice what you learned in your backcountry training and AIARE courses. It’s a great way to round out your backcountry toolkit and build experience and confidence in a more controlled environment.

From the nitty gritty of gear maintenance to ski mountaineering skills, our Advanced Courses offer a wide variety of information. We recommend taking Backcountry 4 – Reading Terrain and Backcountry Leadership and Communication as a starting point, then exploring other courses that interest you.

Take a look at Bluebird’s Advanced Courses for the 21/22 season!

START HERE

 

Backcountry 4 – Reading Terrain

In order to be aware and travel wisely in the backcountry, you must be able to read terrain, interpret avalanche hazards and danger ratings, and build a solid plan for the day. Reading Terrain offers a chance to practice these skills and is a great step for those who have taken AIARE 1. Come practice with navigation tools, route planning, and build a strong understanding of how to efficiently travel in and around avalanche terrain. 

Backcountry Leadership and Communication

Days in the backcountry quickly become frustrating when leadership and communication is not executed well. That’s why we believe this is a crucial course for everyone, no matter your backcountry experience! This course covers risk tolerance, how to set up the tour day for success, decision making in groups, the importance of debriefs and learning from experience, and why strategic communication, leadership, and planning are so important. Plus, this is all done while touring and riding!

EXPLORE MORE ADVANCED TOPICS

 

Winter Emergency Skills

Last season we did a short clinic on winter emergency skills, and this year we are diving in way deeper! We’ll learn what to do in a backcountry winter emergency, what it takes to remove an injured person from the backcountry, and the fundamentals of communication during these situations. Come prepared to dig in the snow, build rescue sleds, and learn critical skills to help build your confidence as you step farther into the backcountry.

A group of students builds an emergency overnight shelter in a clinic at Bluebird Backcountry. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

Equipment Maintenance and Repair

Many of us have felt the sting of purchasing expensive backcountry touring equipment. This course teaches you how to maintain your equipment so it lasts longer and how to repair unexpected breaks in the field. Plus, get some pointers on what to put in your repair kit. 

Ski Mountaineering 1

Ever wondered what ski mountaineering really is? This course is the perfect introduction for anyone interested in taking their backcountry touring to the next level in bigger mountains. Your instructor will break out their ski-mountaineering equipment, teach the basic skills of ascending and descending in steep terrain, and explore our expert terrain at Bluebird to get a feel for what ski mountaineering is all about. It’s recommended that anyone taking this course is an experienced backcountry rider, is very comfortable with their equipment and transitions, and is able to ride 35º+ terrain.

Ski mountaineer on Three Fingered Jack. Photo: Ben Kitching via Unsplash

Women In The Backcountry : Next Level Skills

Come spend the day learning in a fun and welcoming environment with the incredible Brittany Konsella—highly accomplished ski mountaineer, all around shredder, and second woman to ski all the 14’ers in Colorado. This course is designed for female-identifying and non-binary individuals looking to bolster their backcountry skills and take their riding to even farther into the backcountry. It is recommended that participants have taken their AIARE 1 or have at least 2+ years of backcountry experience. This six-hour course will discuss all the details of backcountry touring for gear for female-bodied individuals, dive into group communication and varied travel styles, and discuss how to set goals. You’ll walk away with tips and tricks from experts on steep skiing/riding and all this backcountry touring. 

REFRESH YOUR AVALANCHE KNOWLEDGE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON

 

Avy Refresher Course

Designed for anyone who’s taken an AIARE 1 or 2, Avalanche Rescue Course, or those with many years of backcountry experience. This one-day course (with a digital component as well) is meant to be taken near the beginning of every season to brush up on your rescue skills, practice reading and navigating terrain, and re-engage your avalanche awareness after a summer away from snow.

Still looking for more? We’ll be offering 4 specialty clinics throughout the season with experienced guest instructors. 

The old-school way of learning how to backcountry ski involved throwing newbies into harsh environments with little instruction or fun baked in. We think there’s a better way. That’s why Bluebird has developed our educational progression that starts with the basics, prepares you for your avalanche education, then provides opportunities to practice these skills with a bit more instruction in a less risky environment. Take the next step and continue to progress in your backcountry pursuits with Bluebird! And please let us know if there’s something else you’d love to learn about backcountry skiing or avalanche safety that you don’t see here. We’re always evolving our curriculum and pay special attention to our guests.

Are you an Advanced+ Member? You get access to two advanced courses (or an Avalanche Refresher course) as part of your membership! 

Sign up for an advanced course today and get ready for the Best. Winter. Ever.

6 Ways to Share Your Winter Stoke

The Bluebird vibe is all about bringing people together. Alongside our volunteers and guests, we’ve created a place for backcountry enthusiasts, new and old, to share adventures. With that in mind, 4 Pack and 10-Pack Pass bundles offer a perfect opportunity for you and your friends to share in the Bluebird experience in many different ways. There are no blackout dates or reservations for these passes, and they come with a ridiculous amount of flexibility to share them on any day with anyone.

Here are six creative ways to put your Pass Packs to good use this season:

A proper West Bowl party lap, tele turns included. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

1. Host a 10-person party on the mountain –

Party laps in the true backcountry are not always an option as avalanche conditions usually prescribe riding one at a time. Bluebird is different. Our professional ski patrol team manages Bear Mountain’s terrain, so you can lap slopes all day long, riding alongside your whole group. Save up to $291 off day passes (with the 10 Pack) and have some cash leftover for aprés drinks and s’mores by the base lodge campfire.

2. Test Out Future Backcountry Partners –

It’s important to know that you trust the people you’re touring with, as lives depend on backcountry knowledge and avalanche rescue skills. Going for a test run with potential backcountry touring partners at Bluebird before heading out for longer objectives is an easy (and fun) way to build friendship and trust. You can purchase a Pass Pack and share a few tickets with future partners to get a sense of compatibility level in a lower-consequence environment.

Practicing avalanche rescue skills at Bluebird’s beacon park is a great way to sharpen your skills and see how you and your partner work together. Photo: Doug McLennan

3. Get the Fresh Powder Without the Crowds–

For all those resort passholders who moonlight as backcountry powder hounds, adding a 4 Pack or 10 Pack to the mix this season gives you flexibility to avoid the lift lines and find fresh snow on blackout dates or busy weekends. No reservations are required with a Pass Pack, which makes a Bluebird pass the ideal access tool for storm-chasers.

4. Make It a Family Affair –

Do you have a Bluebird Season Pass but your family does not? Or maybe you are all new to the touring world. Getting a Pass Pack is a great way to share the backcountry experience with the family. We’ve got rental gear for all (kids included) along with introductory and advanced backcountry touring lessons. Introduce your family, or friends, to what the backcountry is all about… with a few added perks, like free bacon and live music!

Bluebird has a whole fleet of rentals, including skis and boots for kids. Photo: Rob McLennan

5. Win Them Over With an Unconventional Experience –

There is no better gift for a skier or boarder than fresh tracks. Give the gift of a 4 Pack or 10 Pack to friends or family (or that certain someone you’ve been crushing on) and join them for an unforgettable adventure at Bluebird Backcountry.

6. Do It All

The best part of these packs is that they are 100% transferable — you have total flexibility to make the most of your passes and season.  With the 10 Pack, you can mix and match how you use the pass packs all winter long. Bring the family two times, go on five dates at Bluebird, host a couple mountain parties, or give the gift of Bluebird to nine different people (plus yourself of course). 

 

Snow has already fallen in the high country of Colorado, and stoke for winter is building. If any of the above sound fun, you can get a head start on planning today. Set yourself up for a season of adventures with a 4 Pack or 10 Pack before prices go up on October 1st. You’ll be one step closer to the Best. Winter. Ever! 

Buy your 4 Pack or 10 Pack here.