Bluebird Backcountry Announces Lodging, Joins Indy Pass for the 22/23 Season

New overnight options and pass partnership will make backcountry ski area experience more accessible.

Steamboat Springs, Colo. — Colorado’s beloved backcountry ski area is gearing up for an exciting winter. Bluebird Backcountry has announced that they will offer on-site, overnight accommodations for the 2022/2023 ski season. In addition, the state’s only non-lift-served resort will join the Indy Pass, offering Indy passholders two days of access with no blackout dates.

LODGING AT BLUEBIRD

Bluebird’s new lodging offerings will include a hut trip experience, where guests will skin less than two miles on pre-set skin tracks to access their choice of either a cabin or an insulated geodesic dome. Bluebird will also have insulated domes located in the base area. Other lodging options include a hostel-style cabin that can sleep up to five guests, with camping returning to the base area parking lot this season as well.

“Hut trips with friends and family are an integral part of the backcountry skiing experience,” said Bluebird Backcountry co-founder Jeff  Woodward. “We wanted to bring that to Bluebird and give our guests a convenient place to stay where they can immerse themselves in the backcountry culture and get a better sense of our vibe and welcoming atmosphere.”

In its first year offering lodging, Bluebird will have roughly 40 beds available for a wide range of group sizes — from comfortable group options to hostel-style accommodations for the solo traveler. All lodging offerings will have a heat source, as well as access to a kitchen and restroom facilities. The on-mountain domes will have their own kitchen space and rustic toilet setup; whereas, the base area domes  and cabins will have a shared kitchen space and port-a-potties. Running water and WiFi will not be available in lodging units, although WiFi will be available at the communal dome in the base area for those wishing to work from Bluebird.

In line with Bluebird’s goal to build a low-impact backcountry ski area, the geodesic domes are temporary structures that Bluebird will take down each spring as part of its Leave No Trace initiative. The cabins are existing ranch cabins that are being repurposed as on-site accommodations.

For a limited time, Bluebird is offering an introductory rate of 30% off during their Early Bird Special, now through September 30, 2022. Reservations start at $59/night, and are available online. Book your stay.

Family backcountry skiing

BLUEBIRD JOINS THE INDY PASS

Bluebird Backcountry will join the Indy Pass for the 2022/2023 season to provide in-bounds backcountry ski access to Indy Passholders. The Indy Pass is North America’s fastest growing multi-mountain pass, whose mission is to support independent ski areas in the true spirit of skiing.

“Bluebird’s mission to revive the soul of skiing aligns perfectly with the goals of the Indy Pass,” said Woodward. “We love the mom & pop ski area culture that the Indy Pass continues to support, and look forward to making the backcountry more accessible for this season’s Indy Passholders.”

Bluebird Backcountry will offer a discounted lodging package for Indy passholders interested in learning how to backcountry ski or splitboard. The Indy exclusive package also includes a beginner backcountry lesson and gear rental, with no blackout dates.

The Indy Pass also announced today that they will add Illinois’ most popular winter resort, Chestnut Mountain, and Michigan’s newest named resort, Snowriver — both of which will also offer two days each to Indy passholders this season.

“The Indy Pass is the dominant pass in the Midwest with 26 resorts now,” said Indy Pass founder Doug Fish. “With the recent explosion of off-piste, uphill exploration, we are proud to welcome Bluebird Backcountry, the world’s first and only resort dedicated to human-powered skiing and riding.”

Indy Pass Pre-Season Prices End September 13th

Indy Base Pass – Adult $299, Kids (12-and-under) $139

Indy+ Pass – Adult $399, Kids $189 (no blackouts)

Indy Base AddOn Pass – Adult $199, Kids $99 (partner and allied resort season passholders only)

Indy+ AddOn Pass – Adult $309, Kids $149 (no blackouts)

Indy Cross Country (XC) Pass – Adult $69, Kids $29 (no blackouts)

Click here to purchase your 22/23 Indy Pass.

Where to Find Summer Backcountry Turns in North America

If skinning in a t-shirt, and wearing running shoes for half of the approach to your objective sounds like an ideal day in the mountains, then plan a summer backcountry ski/snowboard tour immediately. For the diehard snow lovers, and those who prefer warm weather turns, the on-snow season never ends in North America — put in a little extra effort and you can find yourself exploring the mountains on your skis or snowboard in the middle of summer. Here are six lines to consider for your next backcountry skiing/snowboarding tour:

1. Saint Mary’s Glacier, Colorado

Looking for a proper summer ski adventure? Look no further than Saint Mary’s Glacier. This area conveniently sits north of I-70 in Colorado and requires a long approach and steep hike to earn your turns. Saint Mary’s ‘Glacier’ is not a true glacier, but rather a semi-permanent snowfield that, on a good year, holds snow well into the summer season.

2. Skyscraper Glacier, Colorado

One of the best things about Colorado is how easy it is to access high elevation lines. The Skyscraper Glacier is one of those lines. Located in the Front Range of Colorado, west of Nederland, this 700-foot line usually holds snow all year. While you’ll need to time the descent correctly (it’s South-South East facing with lots of sun exposure), you can get in multiple laps if you plan the day wisely.

Skyscraper Glacier is steep, spicy and well worth the uphill work. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

3. Grizzly Peak’s North Couloir, Colorado

If you’re in search of a less crowded backcountry adventure in Colorado that includes sliding downhill on whatever board you fancy, Grizzly Peak is the right choice. Colorado’s highest 13er provides less people than the 14,000 foot peaks, and still gives you the feeling of being on top of the world. This couloir typically holds snow into the summer, and offers around 1,300 vertical feet of steep riding for your descent.

4. Lamb’s Slide, Colorado

Located on the flanks of what some may call the crown jewel of Colorado, Longs Peak, sits Lamb’s Slide: a couloir arm that runs off the Mills Glacier with 1,200 vertical feet of rideable snow (depending on conditions). The 9-mile excursion offers some of the best views of Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, plus a steep and fun ascent of the Lamb’s Slide line that you’ll descend back down.

Even in the summer, Mount Shasta typically has wide open, snow-filled bowls. Photo: Jimmy Howe on Mount Shasta in 2017.

5. Mount Shasta, California

The snowfield between the Hotlum and Wintun Glaciers on Mount Shasta’s east face typically holds snow well into the summer and provides a sustained, steep ride back down. If it’s been a good winter and the weather cooperates, you can have some of the best turns of the whole season with three to four thousand vertical feet of corn snow. Shasta’s summit is 14,162 feet – and while that easily compares to many Colorado peaks, you start at a significantly lower elevation; so it’s a great place to prepare for bigger mountain objectives.

6. Mount Rainier, Washington

Washington state’s highest peak, whose summit sits at 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier requires good navigation skills to select the best route and avoid the numerous cravasses on Paradise Glacier. Consider finding a guide service for this climb if you don’t have experience with ski mountaineering. Once you summit, there’s multiple options for riding down, all of which will likely deliver an awesome adventure and opportunity to explore the alpine and use your boards during the peak of summer.

All smiles and stoke as fellow Bluebird, Kat Chiamaichelo and her partner summit Torreys Peak in June. Photo: Kat Ciamaichelo

If your backcountry setup is packed away, or your boots are too worn out from a winter of human-powered turns, there’s a few great lift operations in North America that stay open into the summer season. Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon is open June – September, with a lift taking you up to the Palmer Glacier. Mammoth Mountain in California is another good option for a multi-sport adventure including summer snow shredding. They close June 5th for the regular season of on-snow operations, but plan to be open the weekend of July 4th for boarding/skiing and a general fun time on snow mid-summer. You can even explore some backcountry tours outside Mammoth before or after taking advantage of the ski lifts.

The Bluebird crew enjoys aprés drinks and summer costumes post tour. Photo: Ti Eversole

Summer touring can be some of the most fun days of the whole season, and the hours you have to enjoy a beverage with friends post-tour typically get longer and sillier (as pictured above). It may feel like all fun and games, but don’t forget to stay aware if you venture onto the snow this summer. While snowpack conditions generally stabilize in the warmer months, timing is everything and avalanches still happen. Make sure your have avalanche training, an understanding of the current snowpack conditions, and are aware that the snow is ever-changing — particularly when exposed to sun and wind.

 

Check out the photos below of our team gettin’ after some mid-summer turns.

Photos courtesy of team members: Jimmy Howe, Cat Owensby, Karen Ranieri, Justin Wilhelm, and Jeff Woodward

Better Backcountry Starts with Sustainability

Three ways that Bluebird Backcountry is working towards a greener future

Sustainable practices should be at the forefront of every ski area’s responsibilities. According to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the planet could warm by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040 — a shift that would directly impact ski areas. A warmer winter translates to a shorter ski season and less opportunity for those deep powder days we know and love.

At Bluebird Backcountry, we believe in reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible. From not running chairlifts to taking Leave No Trace ethics to the next level, here are three ways that we are doing our part to protect the planet and our ski season.

skin track human-powered travel

We believe in taking the scenic route. Photo: Riley Hanlon

Human-Powered Travel

Bluebird Backcountry has zero chairlifts, which means no additional CO2e emissions. According to a study completed by the University of Colorado during the 2020/2021 season, a lift operating at 95% capacity emits 30 grams CO2e per person. The lower the lift capacity, the more CO2e per person. So, if a lift operates at only 25% capacity, then the CO2e emissions increase to 113 grams per person. Skip the lift and head to Bluebird for your turns.

elevated independent energy solar panels at bluebird backcountry

Solar panels, courtesy of our friends over at Elevated Independent Energy. Photo: Riley Hanlon

Running on Solar

With Colorado averaging over 300 days of sunshine, we decided that the best way to take advantage of our beautiful Bluebird days was to harness the power of the sun for our energy needs. Thanks to Elevated Independent Energy, our Base Area is operated almost entirely off of solar power. A renewable source, solar power causes zero Greenhouse Gas emissions and will still work on cloudy and snowy days. On select Sundays, you can catch the Elevated Independent Energy team on site and pick their brains about solar energy and its benefits.

takedown bluebird backcountry sustainbility

Breaking down the Base Area. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

A Leave No Trace Ski Area

Bluebird Backcountry operates on a lease at Bear Mountain, which includes Leave No Trace Requirements. This means that at the conclusion of each season, the ski area is broken down and stored nearby in the off-season. Once the ski area is broken down and put away for the season, our team patiently waits for all of the snow to melt before heading back to the grounds to help pick up trash. A visit to the site in the summer, and one would never know that a ski area even operated in its location at the base of Bear Mountain! 

The 2020/2021 University of Colorado GHG emissions study found that Bluebird Backcountry emitted roughly 5 kilograms of CO2e per acre — compared to an average of 44 metrics tons per acre of CO2e for ski areas in the Rocky Mountain Region and an average of 15 metric tons of CO2e per acre for smaller ski areas. This means that Bluebird’s CO2e emissions are 99% smaller than the Rocky Mountain Regional average, as well as those from small ski areas.

 

Want to be a part of the change? 22/23 Season Passes are now on sale through April 29th at the lowest guaranteed price. Get unlimited access all season long plus exclusive benefits such as one free guest pass, unlimited dog passes, 5 free nights of camping, on-mountain discounts, and more. Our goal is to continue sustainable practices with the future of skiing in mind, and we hope that you will join us in our vision.

Closing Weekend 21/22

Season ends with rodeo costumes, bonfire, live music, an after hours tour, and the inaugural burning of the chairlift.

Spirits were high and smiles were abundant as we said farewell to our second season at Bear Mountain this past weekend. This year’s theme — Bear Mountain Rodeo — had guests and Bluebird team members dressed in their Western best all weekend long, with a small group even riding off into the sunset on Saturday for our After Hours tour to West Bowl and back.

Other events included a Happy Hour, courtesy of Candid Cocktails, followed by a bonfire. Kicking off the bonfire was our first annual burning of the chairlift, where a small popsicle-stick replica sat perched atop the logs. S’mores were devoured under a starry night sky, the warmth and light of the fire slowly fading into the darkness. Our last day of the 21/22 season concluded with perfect Bluebird skies, soft turns, and live music.

Closing Weekend was one for the books, and we’re already looking forward to another season filled with exciting events and opportunities. Whether you like to dress up, meet new friends, hang with the pups, or shake your booty, we can’t wait to find even more reasons to celebrate with you next year.

22/23 Season Passes are now on sale at the lowest guaranteed price, and we hope that you’ll join us for another winter of soulful skiing and good vibes. Secure yours today for as low as $189! Thanks to everyone that came out this season, and we hope to see y’all again soon. SKI-HAW!

BUY NOW

 

8 Perks of Visiting Bluebird in the Spring

Spring is on the horizon — days are longer, there’s a change in the air, and some people’s attention is drifting towards dirt trails and summer excursions. What those people don’t know is that spring is one of the best seasons for backcountry adventures and a great time to plan a trip to Bluebird Backcountry. Here are 8 perks of riding at Bluebird in the spring:

One of the best perks of avalanche-managed runs is that you can ride next to your buddies no matter where you are at Bluebird. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

1. More sun for extra laps.

Longer days and warming temperatures mean extra time on the skin track and mountain. While the bitter cold of January may have everyone but the ardent riders returning to their cars no later than 3 pm, in the spring things change. At Bluebird you’ve got from 8:30 to 4 pm to get in as many laps as possible, then return to the base area for beers, snacks and stories around the fire.

2. Avoid the spring break crowds with human-powered turns.

Bluebird has zero lifts, which means zero lift lines. If you’re planning a spring break trip, consider coming to Bluebird to avoid the craziness of resorts during one of the busiest weeks of the season. Bonus: there’s no increase in ticket prices during spring break, leaving you extra cash for aprés snacks.

 

Stashes of light and cold can be found on north and east-facing slopes at Bluebird. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

3. Stashes of cold snow.

Let’s face it, the snow at many resorts turns to slush in the spring, but this is not the case at Bluebird. There’s a lot of north through east-facing terrain that stays cooler longer — you can enjoy the sunshine while still skiing exciting tree runs in firm conditions or finding powder turns in March.

4. You can party on the mountain every day.

While some people love the frigid backcountry days, warmer weather typically brings high spirits to Bluebird. You’ll find groups party-lapping the mountain (a perk of avalanche-managed backcountry terrain), and sharing their post-shred stories around the campfire or at the parking lot. You can even rent the whole mountain for an epic spring gathering. The heightened energy brings a completely different vibe to Bluebird — you’ll have to visit to experience it.

You’re sure to have more fun while skinning and riding if clad in a costume. Photo: Amelia Altavena

5. The more creative layers the better.

Proper layering in spring conditions is critical for moisture management — ’tis the season to get creative! Hawaiian shirts are far more comfortable without 3 layers under them, and you’ll get major style points from employees at Bluebird if you show up in costume. Plus rocking the jorts and ski boots is far more bearable with more warming temps. Cowboy hats are common attire in northern Colorado, and tutus and bacon suits have also been spotted on the skin track at Bluebird.

6. An awesome event lineup.

Bluebird’s events for the month of March are extra exciting this year. Join us for an all-inclusive fun obstacle course-style race for skiers/riders of all abilities, a day on the mountain with ladies and Elevated Alpine, plus a handful of advanced courses new to Bluebird this season, including a Ski Mountaineering course where you’ll explore the steep couloirs and advanced terrain on the far side of Bear Mountain.

Even as spring rolls around, don’t underestimate the power of a warm breakfast as motivation to hit the skintrack. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

7. Après-friendly conditions.

We’re still holding out for spring powder days, and they are on the forecast! But as the weather starts to warm and longer days, there’s more light and favorable temps to gather around the campfire at the base of Bluebird and share a brew with friends. You can even rent a private, heated dome to use as a midday hut or post-riding gathering spot when the snow is falling because let’s be honest, we’re all still hoping for a miracle March of new snow.

8. Tailgate meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Ditch the skin track Cliff bars for better food in the comfort of your tailgate. Camp at Bluebird and enjoy the sunrise over Bear Mountain with your breakfast, then hit the skin track for a few laps. The parking lot is a 2 minute walk from the base area, so you can return for lunch mid-day then finish off with a scrumptious dinner prepared in your van or a campfire feast with friends.

Good views, cold beers, and sunshine make for a great après scene. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

There’s more to be experienced at Bluebird this spring than what’s listed above — including a full calendar of backcountry lessons and AIARE avalanche courses for the month and potential storm skiing in the forecast. We hope to see you on the mountain this month, making memories to carry you through the dry season.

For Women by Women : Elevating Ladies in the Backcountry

In honor of International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8th, it’s time we highlight the reasons why taking a women-specific backcountry class or avalanche course may be the perfect stepping stone for women seeking knowledge, mentorship, and bigger lines in the backcountry.

All-women’s courses can be a place to build camaraderie and meet new touring partners. Photo: Kat Ciamaichelo

In the past few decades, the snowsports industry has seen an increase in women-owned and operated organizations, offering female-identifying and non-binary introductory and skills courses. In a male-dominated sports such as skiing and snowboarding, women can be met with different barriers than men, barriers that make breaking into this sport challenging. While ladies courses may not be everyone’s jam — and mixed gender courses offer important lessons — women-focused courses can provide something special for certain people, and it’s time we spread the word about such benefits and opportunities! 

Here’s a sneak peak to what you’ll learn in an all-women’s backcountry course, including tips and tricks for women while touring as well as upcoming events and courses for women by women.

Tips & Tricks for Ladies on the Skin Track

1. Don’t fear the extra layers.

While everyone’s bodies and thermoregulation is different, women typically tend to run colder than men. Don’t be ashamed to carry extra layers or wear one more jacket than your male touring partners. Pro tip: embrace the down skirt when taking winter courses outside or on extra frigid days; your bottom half will thank you for it.

2. Invest in a properly fitting pack.

Similar to how everyone has different thermoregulation, women’s bodies are shaped differently. While gender-specific gear is not always necessary, backpacks designed to be shorter and narrower are far more comfortable when touring for some ladies. If you have a shorter torso, consider trying a pack appropriate for your body proportions.

3. Embrace the drop seat bibs.

Let’s face it, peeing in the backcountry is inevitable and always more challenging as a female-bodied individual. Ski bibs make pee breaks in the backcountry, or in the resort bathroom for that matter, far less complicated because you don’t have to fiddle with all your layers. Make sure to get a pair of bibs that have the full drop seat incorporated — simply zip open the seat of your pants to easily pee, without exposing your whole bottom half to the cold. Bibs will dramatically improve bathroom breaks and provide more privacy when windy, exposed pee stops are your only option.

Laughs and connections are an indication of a good day in the backcountry. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

4. Don’t confine yourself to women’s specific gear.

The theme continues… Everyone has specific needs and preferences when it comes to gear, and not all bodies are alike. While women’s specific gear can be beneficial for some items, like backpacks or ski bibs, it’s not always right for everyone. For instance, men’s and women’s boots have very little differences besides a shorter cuff height and different flex options. An aggressive female skier with long legs can rock a 130 flex mens boot easily. Explore what works best for you and don’t be afraid to mix and match.

5. Nobody will ever know if you’re wearing a bra.

Social norms be damned, do what’s comfortable for you! Under ski clothes, no one can tell if you’re wearing a bra. On long tours, warm spring days, or when you’re clad in multiple layers, ditching the extra half layer of constriction can be a liberating act. Bonus, discarding the bra removes the highly annoying boob issue that happens on warm days.

6. Identify areas of growth.

There is always room for improvement when it comes to backcountry touring — be that building physical strength, learning new techniques, or gaining more knowledge. This fact is not gender-specific. Consider where you feel less confident when it comes to touring (i.e. steep skiing, decision-making in groups, interpreting the snowpack conditions and avalanche danger, etc) and seek out mentors who can help you improve upon these skills. If you’re experienced and confident when it comes to backcountry touring, be a mentor for someone else! It’s important for women to support one another in all areas and even more so in the androcentric snowsports arena.

Don’t believe the stereotypes you see on social media — some women like steep skin tracks and spicy lines. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

Inclusive Opportunities

1. Women in the Backcountry : Next Level Skills Course

Bluebird Backcountry offers an advanced course for women who are looking to take their touring and mountain objectives to the next level. Taught by the highly experienced Brittany Konsella, there’s only one more course running this season on March 12th, 2022! This course is ideal for those with 2+ years of touring experience.

2. SheJumps Backcountry Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, join SheJumps at Bluebird on March 6th, 2022, for a day of touring, laughs and camaraderie with other women on the mountain. SheJumps offers opportunities to increase participation in outdoor activities for women and help build an inclusive community focused on getting everyone outside.

3. VENTURE OUT Backcountry Festival with VNTRbirds

Combine backcountry touring, backyard games & camping out next to a fire at VNTRbirds second annual Venture Out Backcountry Festival at Bluebird Backcountry. On March 13th-14th, 2022, VNTRbirds will be hosting two fun-filled days with backcountry beginner and intermediate tours, scavenger hunts, relay races and a bit of howling at the moon around the campfire. And don’t forget the s’mores!

4. Shred with Elevated Alpine

On March 18th, 2022, Elevated Alpine (EA) is hosting multiple womens-only clinics and a fun day at Bluebird Backcountry; splitboard-specific, intermediate and advanced courses, discounted tickets, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+, cis-female, non-binary and transgender shcolarhsips, connection with other lady shredders, and a barbecue and hang at the end of the day. EA is a non-profit organization focused on hosting inclusive events, clinics, gear exchanges, and more!

5. Wild Barn’s Boot-Tan Fest

A women and femme-leaning, non-binary shred fest at Bluebird Backcountry hosted by Wild Barn could be in your future on March 15th, 2022. Meet new touring partners, visit women-run vendor booths, demo Coalition Snow gear, explore Bear Mountain, and partake in the afternoon nude lap of West Bowl.

6. AIARE Women’s Mentorship Program

Looking for female mentors in the backcountry skiing and splitboarding community? This season, AIARE launched a women’s mentorship program — a three-pronged program aiming to break down barriers for women in avalanche education. This program includes mentorship opportunities, scholarships, and panel conversations featuring women in the avalanche education and guiding fields.

7. Backcountry Babes

Inspiring women through outdoor adventures, Backcountry Babes offers avalanche courses for ladies, by ladies, throughout the West. They also offer guide services, mountain biking clinics, and trekking adventures.

Instructor Brittany Konsella shares her insights on what ladies bring to the backcountry in a women’s clinic at Bluebird Backcountry. Photo: Kat Ciamaichelo

All-women’s classes provide an atmosphere for women to find camaraderie and feel more comfortable speaking up, asking questions and gaining confidence in themselves. The important message behind these courses is that we want everyone to feel good and be informed backcountry travelers — creating opportunities for women to further their passions and careers while feeling supported is incredibly valuable in male-dominated snow sports.

The queen of powder skiing, Dolores LaChappelle, stated “Everything I know, I have learned from powder skiing.” Regardless of if you’re interested in all-women’s courses or not, it’s time to provide access for women and gender-nonconforming folks, and share the wisdom of powder turns, to experience the sweet freedom and pure magic that backcountry skiing provides.

onX Backcountry: The Digital Mapping Tool for Everyone

Whether you’re a seasoned expert or new to the world of trip planning and touring, onX Backcountry’s snow-focused mapping software is a great tool to start using today. It has a simple yet thorough platform, with accurate and effective tools. Here’s what you need to know:

Main Benefits

Perhaps you’re new to the task of tour planning and off-trail navigation, or maybe you’ve been using mapping software for a while but want an all-inclusive option… either way you’ve found what you’re looking for. With intuitive and user-friendly applications (both phone and desktop), it’s easy to start planning routes. More experienced backcountry travelers will find that this comprehensive option has everything you need in one place — 3D imaging, established routes, weather information, and so much more. 

onX Backcountry has preloaded trails and crowd-sourced maps for winter-specific sports — a super helpful asset when you’re exploring a new area and looking for the best parking lot or a trailhead. Bonus, there’s detailed descriptions and photos for popular routes to help you plan.

Find winter-specific ascent routes and the established ski descents all in one place on onX Backcountry. Photo: Erika Lee

If you’re not tech savvy, or have trouble grasping the difference between .kml and .gpx files, onX makes it simple to share routes, waypoints, and notes between friends. Send an onX specific link (via text or email) from the phone app or desktop website that your touring buddies can directly open the link on their computer or phone. Any notes you’ve made are also included with the routes and waypoints you share — making beta-sharing between friends and future trip planning much easier. Along with shared routes or waypoints comes any notes you’ve made — this makes sharing beta between friends and future trip planning much easier. Whether you like planning on your computer or phone, both options are similar and easy to use. Routes and waypoints added on a desktop will automatically download to your phone application, saving you time and skipping the hassle of exporting and importing files.

Mapping software not only helps you avoid avalanche terrain, but when combined with the weather and snowpack knowledge, it helps you find the best stashes of powder. Photo: Doug McLennan

Integration

The merging of various online resources and a mapping software is one of the best parts of onX Backcountry. No need to separately reference Powder Project or other guidebooks when looking for the best off-piste ski line, parking lot or campsite in a zone — all these resources are pre-loaded onto both the Snow and Trail modes. Plus, you can easily switch these modes depending on the season and travel plans, which will change the trails and assets shown. 3D satellite or topographic maps are accessible on both the phone and desktop — a helpful tool for visualizing terrain when pre-trip planning and orienting yourself to the terrain when you’re out there.

The Avalanche Forecast is a separate layer available on both the desktop and phone applications — turn this layer on, click the colored forecast zone you’re interested in and scroll down to see the avalanche hazard rating for the day and find a link to the full forecast. Make sure to read the full avalanche forecast page if you’re planning a winter backcountry tour. Other map overlays include the slope angle shading (helpful for avalanche awareness) plus satellite, topographic, and hybrid map modes. Toggle between map modes, turn on and off the avalanche forecast and slope angle, and switch between 2D and 3D on both a phone and desktop to find the perfect map mode for any adventure.

Weather information is integrated into onX Backcountry. Click an avalanche forecasting zone and scroll down on the information page — you’ll find a general weather forecast for the area on this page. Alternatively, get point-specific weather and snowpack information by clicking the black snowflakes marking specific Sno-tel sites. The green circle in the top right hand corner gives you weather data for your GPS location when you have cell service or wifi.

Use onX Backcountry to quickly access the avalanche forecast in the zone you’re planning to visit. Photo: Erika Lee

In the Field Use

When taking navigation from the comfort of your couch and into the field, you can easily download onX maps for offline use. This can be done on the computer or from your phone — all routes, waypoints, slope angle overlays, and avalanche hazard overlays will be automatically downloaded for use while out of cell service. The blue dot is your GPS location, illuminating the cardinal direction your phone is facing — this comes in handy when conditions quickly change or when navigating in complex terrain. Also, for navigation purposes you can set the map to always face north on your phone, similar to google maps. 

When you’re in the backcountry it’s easy to create new routes and see the total distance and elevation gain/loss of these routes. Add waypoints while you’re traveling and use preset labels to mark avalanche paths, good view points, or the perfect spot for camping on future trips. You can even include photos or detailed notes in each waypoint for future reference.

When visibility quickly decreases, it’s nice to have a navigation tool to get you safely back to the trailhead. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

The Confidence to Set Your Own Skin Track

As onX Backcountry continues to evolve their software, they’re quickly becoming the go-to application for on and off-trail navigation, all year long. For ski tourers in search of an easy to use, functional, and accurate mapping software, onX Backcountry is an excellent choice — the tools explained above help you navigate with more confidence in winter environments and return home safely for another day of touring. 

The Bluebird Backcountry team uses onX for all things navigation at Bear Mountain, as well as in Backcountry Lessons and AIARE courses. In partnership with onX Backcountry, Bluebird guests get a 1-month free trial of their Backcountry app, and AIARE student’s get 4 months for free! Put your onX skills to the test at Bluebird, or take a navigation–specific course such as Backcountry 3: Navigation and Avalanche Prep or Reading Terrain to learn advanced skills for winter travel and get in-person instructions on how to use onX Backcountry.

Weekly Update : Events + Courses

Week of February 10th, 2022

A week of Bluebird skies and great weather is coming up and we are stoked for some special events and courses on the schedule. Hang out this Saturday afternoon for a presentation and Q&A with Brittany Konsella — the second woman to ski all of Colorado’s 14ers. All you lady shredders out there, sign up for our advanced Women in the Backcountry Course and take your skills to the next level. Check out the full events calendar and lineup of backcountry education lessons, advanced courses and avalanche courses below!

Thursday, Feb. 10th

  • 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, Feb. 11th

  • 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, Feb. 12th

  • Beacon Seekin’ Saturday — 2 – 3 pm at the base area. Practice your rescue skills and dig some prizes out of the snow! More info.
  • Presentation + Q & A : Skiing all of Colorado’s 14ers– SPECIAL EVENT with Brittany Konsella, 4 – 5 pm at the base area. Free to all Bluebird+ and Advanced+ Education Members! More info.
  • Backcountry 1 Lesson — book your lesson here.
  • Backcountry 3 Lesson — book your lesson here
  • Women in the Backcountry : Next Level Skills — With the highly experienced Brittany Konsella. Learn more and sign up here.
  • Ski with a Mentor — free to guests with a Backcountry+ or Advanced+ Membership, or $35 per session. Reserve your spot here.

Sunday, Feb. 13th

  • The Bacon Brawl, COSMIC Skimo Race — 10 am – 1 pm starting at the base area. Come participate in Bluebird’s second annual Bacon Brawl skimo race. 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.

Monday, Feb. 14th

  • 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

Find out more about Bluebird’s Education Program and sign up for courses here. Interested in avalanche education? Check out Bluebird’s AIARE Avalanche Education courses. 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 February 3rd, 2022

Cold temps and mid-week snow make for prime conditions at Bluebird this Thursday – Monday. Come out this Saturday to see Roma Ransom live at the base area, then stick around for the Solar Sundays snacks and drinks with our solar partners Elevated Independent Energy. Check out the full events calendar and lineup of backcountry education lessons, advanced courses and avalanche courses below!

Last weekend’s sunset tour of West Bowl was a success! Photo: Aidan Giroso

Thursday, Feb. 3rd

  • 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, Feb. 4th

  • 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, Feb. 5th

  • 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 — Roma Ransom, 2 – 4 pm at the base area. A Colorado Springs band that you won’t want to miss! 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.
  • Avalanche Refresher Course NEW THIS SEASON. Learn more and sign up here.

Sunday, Feb. 6th

  • Solar Sundays — 11 – 3 pm at the base area. Come enjoy drinks, snacks, and a triva game while learning about how Bluebird is powered as an off-the-grid resrot. 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, Feb. 7th

  • 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.

AIARE Courses

Find out more about Bluebird’s Education Program and sign up for courses here. Interested in avalanche education? Check out 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!

 

onX Backcountry: The Best Way To Get Around Bluebird Backcountry

We’re partnering with onX Backcountry to provide a convenient, online map where all of our trails are listed right in their app.

Welcome to Bluebird Backcountry, where the crowds are minimal, you’ve got the comfort of avalanche-controlled terrain, and all the uphill your legs can handle. To make it easier to plan your day and get around, onX Backcountry — the go-to trail guide and GPS mapping app for all human-powered snow adventures — now allows for easy access to view our terrain offerings. With onX Backcountry in your pocket, you’ll feel confident heading out onto the skin track and into endless powder stashes.

Bluebird riders transition at the top of West Bowl.

First Things First

Our partnership with onX Backcountry grants all 2021/2022 Bluebird Backcountry visitors and season passholders a free one-month subscription to their Premium Membership. For all of those taking an AIARE course here, you’ll have access to onX Backcountry’s suite of features for a 4-month trial period. The Premium Membership includes a Slope Angle Layer helpful for finding low-angle terrain, unlimited Offline Maps for poor cell-service areas, and SNOTEL — which provides the most up-to-date snow data in the West.

Prior to arriving at Bluebird Backcountry, follow the steps sent to you in your confirmation email. Download and experiment with the app to get familiar before you’ll need it in the field.

The Lost in the Woodwards skin track wraps through the aspens to the top of West Bowl.

All Your Routes In One Place

Using onX Backcountry, find Bluebird Backcountry by typing it into the search bar. Once there, you’ll see things such as skin tracks, various trails, zones marked open or closed, and other difficulty indicators throughout the map. This will be your go-to throughout your day. Make sure to toggle Tracker on for a readout of your elevation gain, speed, and distance.

A guest rides down a mellow slope in a Backcountry Lesson at Bluebird.

Slope Angle

While we mitigate all avalanche risk within the bounds of our ski area, you’ll be able to access the onX Slope Angle Layer to evaluate inclines of a given slope. This is a great time to test yourself on evaluating the angle of a given slope for when it’s time to head into the backcountry.

The Portal at the base area of Bluebird Backcountry.

Basemaps

The onX Basemaps are a great source of topographic information: the satellite view outlines terrain information such as tree density, and displays points of interest like breweries — because, après.

OnX Backcountry – the best navigation tool for winter recreation.

Last Thing

Before you come on out, make sure to download Bluebird as an Offline Map. Signal can be spotty, so it’s best to get that out of the way before you start putting in laps.

For more help, check out onX Backcountry’s support center.