7 Reasons This is Going to Be the Best Winter Ever

It’s a divisive time in this country, but there’s one thing we can all agree on: The winter of 2020/21 was one emotional roller coaster of a ski season. Closed resorts. Crazy-competitive reservation systems. Trying to maintain six feet of distance in lift-lines and at crowded trailheads. No snow, then too much snow. Our heads are still spinning. 

But despite it all, we at Bluebird Backcountry have to say it’s been one of our favorite seasons yet. It’s been amazing to see the Bluebird community grow over the past year. There’s been a real sense of camaraderie on the mountain, and nothing has gotten us through this year like watching skiers and riders come down the hill with ear-to-ear grins on their faces. 

All that said, we sure are stoked for the 2021/22. If we were betting types, we’d bet a brand new pair of Helio Recons that this upcoming season is going to be the best we’ve ever seen. Here’s why. 

 

Ain’t no party like a post-COVID party. We can’t wait. Photo: Kathryn Ciamaichelo

1. The parties are going to be awesome. 

We love solitude and quiet backcountry tours as much as the next person, but there’s something special about really celebrating when the turns call for it. Post-pandemic, we’re stoked to be able celebrate more—and with everyone we can think of. Aprés beers at the Dean West? Go ahead—invite friends. Disco Friday conga line? Hell yes, you can touch my shoulders. Want to help me shotgun this summit beer? Don’t mind if I do. 

 

We just read your palms: There’s definitely love in your future. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

2. You’ll actually be able to see your date’s face.

This Valentine’s Day, we launched our first ever Lovebirds Ski Dating Event. It was a huge success, but, man, are we looking forward to the end of pandemic dating. You heard it from us: 21/22 is the season to find love. 

 

Make this your year of self-improvement: Save when you bundle AIARE courses with a season pass. Photo: Erik Lambert

3. There will be even better deals on passes.  

This past year saw a boom in backcountry skiing interest. Next season, we’re stoked to keep serving all those amazing, curious new athletes with even better deals on passes, including a Weekday Season Pass and a Next Gen Season Pass for skiers and riders aged 26 or under. (Included: buddy codes, a free guest pass, five nights of free camping, and more.) We’re also offering all-inclusive packages for great deals when you combine passes, lessons, and/or avalanche courses. 

 

Time to pack up the van and crank up the volume. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

4. Carpooling will be officially back in style. 

As a human-powered ski area run on solar energy, we pride ourselves on being a low-impact operation. We’re stoked to boost our personal sustainability cred even further by carpooling to the mountain, which will get way easier post-pandemic. Plus, there’s nothing like jamming out in a packed car to make the drive go by fast. 

 

Do you roll deep? Post-pandemic, you can invite literally everyone you know to come crash at your place. #partyhouse. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

5. You can really pack out the Air BnB.

Let the reunions begin! Save money and revel in the slumber-party vibes by making your place the ski pad of the century. Post-pandemic, inviting your friends to crash with you will be just as easy as asking to try a sip of their beer (oh, the good ol’ days). Pro tip: The quirky Eastin Hotel in Kremmling is one of our favorite spots. 

 

Test-drive some brand-new skis next winter. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

6. You’ll get to shred on brand-new rental skis and boards. 

There’s nothing like making the first turns of winter in a glossy, snappy, playful new set of planks. To start the 2021/22 season off right, we’re bringing in a shiny new set of rental skis and splitboards. (Grab a Season Pass now to lock in discounts on rentals all season long.) 

 

We’re proud to call Bear Mountain our home, sweet, home. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

7. We’ve finally got a mountain that feels like home. 

Maybe you’ve already heard the good news? After a few seasons of trying out different locations, Bluebird Backcountry is officially returning to Bear Mountain next year! (*Cue fireworks.*) With 4,200 acres of gentle glades, steep chutes, and quad-burning ascents to explore, Bear Mountain is the perfect home for Bluebird Backcountry. 

Haven’t been? Come one, come all—we can’t wait to show you around. 

 

A Love Letter to Bear Mountain

For its first couple of years, Bluebird Backcountry was more a concept than a place. Bluebird has existed at Mosquito Pass, Whiteley Peak, and even, for a weekend during our prototype phase, at Winter Park Resort. That’s because the Bluebird vibe transcends location. Between the amazing culture of the Colorado backcountry community, and Bluebird’s passionate staff, it’s possible to make magic happen anywhere. That said, we’re so glad that “anywhere” is Bear Mountain.

We now have a long-term lease for Bear Mountain, so we’ll be here again for the 21/22 season. (Keep an eye out for season passes coming very soon!) And while it’s been fun playing the field, we can’t wait to settle into this awesome spot. It was hard to narrow down all our favorite things about Bear Mountain to just 10, but we did our best. Here’s why this little slice of Jackson and Grand Counties is the best home we could imagine for Bluebird. 

Those summit views 😍

It’s hard work to gain any summit, but this one rewards skiers and riders with amazing views. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

Guests can skin to Bear Mountain’s 9,845-foot summit, and from there, the possibilities are endless—a nice long run down Ursa Major or, if you’re with a Bluebird guide, you can drop into the Far Side zone. But before you rip skins, it’s worth lingering for the summit views, which include the Flat Tops, iconic Rabbit Ears Peak, and our old stomping grounds, 10,115-foot Whiteley Peak. 

Cute critters

Our guests get the best wildlife shots! Photo: Adam Christopher

The bears may be hibernating when Bluebird is operating, but there’s plenty of other fauna to spot. Our team has seen all kinds of animal tracks on the property, and we’ve even been lucky enough to spot some ridiculously cute residents, like curious ermines, moose, birds of prey, and this (surprisingly large) snowshoe hare. If you’re lucky, you might just spot some wildlife on the skin track!

It feels like an adventure… 

What’s an adventure without an approach? Photo: Justin Wilhelm

The 1.9-mile drive between the road and the Bluebird Base can sure feel long, especially when you’re excited to hit the slopes. And we’ll admit it’s an ongoing challenge to keep that stretch plowed. But what’s an adventure without an approach? “That drive,” says longtime Bluebirder Trent Ruder, “just takes me away from my cares and puts me in the mood.” We couldn’t agree more.

…but it’s near all the amenities

Bluebird is a skip away from incredible restaurants, breweries, and distilleries. Photo: Table 79

Despite its remote feel, Bear Mountain is only about 40 minutes from both Kremmling and Steamboat Springs (and only about two hours from the Front Range). Both towns know how to make a guest feel welcome. Whether you’re looking for fine après dining or a casual place to grab a brew, cozy cabins or an ultra-affordable room, our partners have you covered with deep discounts for Bluebird pass holders.

Gorgeous glades

The quiet, peaceful Lost in the Woodwards skin track is a staff favorite. Photo: Doug McLennan

“My favorite skin track is Lost in the Woodwards,” says Kat Ciamaichelo, Bluebird’s events manager. “It’s absolutely beautiful, always peaceful—even on stormy days—and climbs a nice mellow incline through aspens, pine and some ridge-top meadows.” There’s something so magical about ascending through the trees, and this zone captures it perfectly. 

It’s skimo-ready

The steep couloirs off the Bear summit make for a fun, challenging portion of the Bacon Brawl skimo race course. Photo: Brendan McCue

This season, we hosted the first-ever Bacon Brawl at Bluebird Backcountry, and it won’t be our last skimo race. The varied terrain (including the steep chutes pictured here) make for an incredible, challenging course, and we’re excited to see what we can cook up with the COSMIC team for next year’s race.

Lungbuster skin tracks

The hard work of skinning uphill is well worth it at Bear Mountain. Photo: Doug McLennan

When you’re looking for a workout, Ruder’s Ridge is a fan favorite. It gains 610 feet at an average steepness of 21 degrees, so it’s a real bear (sorry), but the reward is well worth it. “It’s a killer view back towards West Bowl, Rabbit Ears, and Baker Mountain, all places I love to play,” says Avalanche Program Director Lucas Mouttet. Kat agrees: “It just feels so cool to climb up a hard skin track and then see where you came from—so far away!”

More (and more varied) terrain

We love that there’s something everyone in your group can enjoy at Bluebird. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

“I love Bear Mountain because the terrain is so varied,” says Morgan Ash, Bluebird’s rental shop manager. “It allows people to expand their horizons into new types of terrain, snow conditions they’ve never ridden, and can help a new backcountry skier develop an extensive portfolio of skills that they might not have access to at other locations.” Morgan nailed it: there’s something for everyone at Bluebird.

Plenty of snow

We rely on Mother Nature for our snow. She definitely keeps us on our toes, but even this season—a dry one in many places—she delivered. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

One of the reasons we set up shop a little up the road from our previous location at Whiteley Peak is that Bear Mountain gets way more snow in an average winter than Whiteley, despite their close proximity. Since we’re not in the business of manufacturing snow, that’s important. “West Bowl’s leeward face brings in more snow than I expected at first glance,” Trent points out. It’s true: We’ve seen some serious powder days at Bluebird this season.

The best base area

We love our solar-powered base area. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

The quality of the skiing is important, but when it comes to community, a good base area is key. With plenty of parking, proximity to the Mountain Portal, and, perhaps most crucially, room for a snack yurt, Bear’s base has been the site of many fond memories. Of course, as we’ve learned over the last few years, the people at that base area are what really makes it feel like home. 

We can’t wait to see you for our closing weekends… and next season!

Peer Reviewed: Bluebird Is the Solution to All Your COVID Dating Problems

A year ago, we never thought we’d still be here—swiping, messaging, zoom-dating, and still struggling to find love in this weird era of dating limbo. So, for this Valentine’s Day, we decided to do something different: Speed dating on skis. In keeping with our Bluebird mission, we would make it easy and casual, giving out goodies and setting out way stations to keep the focus on exploring and having fun. It would be a grand experiment, aimed at solving one of the biggest issues of the modern world: finding love in a pandemic. (Pretty noble, right?)  

So, experiment we did. We called it Lovebirds: A Ski Dating Event. Here is our formal report. 

Abstract:

Backcountry skiing or splitboarding is the perfect solution to the complicated reality of pandemic dating. For one thing, it’s about as COVID-safe as it gets: You’re outdoors, so the ventilation is great. It’s cold, so no one ever forgets a face mask. And it doesn’t matter if you’re skinning or carving turns—six feet of distance is pretty much a given if you don’t want to step on someone’s skis. 

Backcountry skiing is also a clever way to filter out bad dates. First, you’re automatically guaranteed to meet backcountry enthusiasts. You can then get to know them in a beautiful setting. (Bonus: at Bluebird, that beautiful setting is managed for avalanche risk so you can focus more on acting cool and likeable and less on monitoring the snowpack.) Better yet, it’s impossible for your partner to do that thing where they lie about their fitness level on the first date to seem more badass than they really are. And if you don’t vibe with someone? You still make a new backcountry friend, and you get a workout in. Boom. 

Backcountry skiing: Six feet of distance, guaranteed. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

Hypothesis:

Given all of the above, we were certain that Bluebird Backcountry was going to be the humble facilitator of some real, bonafide, true love. 

Methods:

On Sunday, we introduced the Ski Dating Event. The premise was simple: We’d gather a bunch of unattached backcountry enthusiasts and do a little meet and greet to set a relaxed tone for the day. Then, we’d mix and match the skiers and riders, and send them off on a lap together. Partners could switch at the bottom of each lap or at our mid-mountain warming hut if the vibe just wasn’t right. 

The day before, the Bluebird Base saw dumping snow, live music from Tara Rose and the Real Deal, a very competitive Nerf Biathlon tournament, and a raucous s’more-eating contest, but Sunday, all was quiet and calm. And by our highly scientific measurements, love was in the air. 

Costumed Nerf Biathlon competitors faced off at Bluebird on Saturday (just check out that Moose onesie). Nerf Biathlon, as it turns out, is also an excellent way to make new friends. Photo: Kat Ciamaichelo

That morning, a dozen (supercool, very interesting, and extremely attractive) skiers showed up. We paired them up and watched the magic happen. The pairs spent the day touring under sunny skies, switching up partners, sipping hot coffee and matcha from Alpine Start, and nibbling giant s’mores from Camp Toasted in the Bluebird snack yurt. The whole atmosphere was friendly, polite, and casual. Though there was a range of skill levels, no one got left in the dust—a testament to just how many wonderful people are out there in the Colorado backcountry community. 

And at the end of the day, the whole group gathered for a (socially distanced) hang-out sesh by the fire ring before going home with some goodie bags—our treat to celebrate a Valentine’s Day well spent.

Ski Dating Event participants went home with some pretty adorable goodie bags. Photo: Kat Ciamaichelo

Results:

Of the dozen skiers who met up, two have already been on second dates, and a third is planning to meet up with his Ski Dating partner sometime soon. That means that—according to our totally statistically significant sample size—you have a 25% chance of finding someone at Bluebird. Pretty good odds, eh?

Conclusion:

Dating during a pandemic is hands-down the worst. But backcountry skiing is a pretty fun solution. Stay tuned for news on another Ski Dating Event this spring!

New Terrain Opens on Bear Mountain!

It’s finally here: the winter we’ve been waiting for! Looks like Ullr has been paying attention to all our snow dances—the latest storm brought enough snow to Bear Mountain to open another 40% of Bluebird Backcountry’s terrain. Not bad for a ski area that doesn’t make its own snow. 

Our operations and ski patrol teams have been working hard to open Bear Mountain’s north face. When the snow showed up last week, we took some guests out to tour the new terrain. Now, it’s open and ready to rip for anyone with a Bluebird pass. Here’s what you need to know about the terrain we just opened.

Download the Bluebird trail map

The Bear Mountain summit is now open!

With a little hard work, Bear Mountain’s summit is all yours. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

There’s something about arriving at a summit that never gets old. We’d say it’s unbeatable, but the truth is… skiing off the peak is even more fun. So we’re thrilled to open skin tracks all the way to Bear Mountain’s 9,845-foot summit — plus challenging runs all the way down.

On a clear day, the top of Bear Mountain boasts views of Rabbit Ears and our former stomping grounds, 10,115-foot Whiteley Peak. The summit is marked, but there are no services at the top.

Newly opened runs are rated blue, black, and double-black

Skinning Elkhide Uptrack on the way to Bear Mountain Summit. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

Skyline runs straight off the summit along the Continental Divide. It’s rated double-black with no shortage of natural obstacles and tight trees to keep you on your toes.

Ursa Major, a reference to the peak’s Latin name, offers an enjoyable 1,000 vertical feet of evergreen tree skiing. It’s closer to a black-diamond run at a resort.

Below, four Bear Claw Meadows open up for hootin’ and hollerin’. These gorgeous intermediate aspen groves glisten on bluebird days (and look spook-tacular when it’s socked in). 

Ruder’s Ridge — which runs along the peak’s prominent cliff band — gains 610 feet of elevation in just under three-quarters of a mile. Fortunately, the scenery will distract you from your aching quads. This part of the mountain shares its name with Bluebird’s Director of Business Development, Trent Ruder, who’s quick to point out that it’s not actually him the run is named for, but his family. Trent can trace his family’s Vail lineage back five generations. His grandfather, Leonard Ruder, ran a sawmill and cut runs at Vail Resort in 1961. There’s even a Ruder’s Run named for Leonard at Vail, complete with a plaque in his honor. 

“The Ruders build ski areas,” Trent says of his family’s legacy. “I’m honored to be part of Bluebird, where we’re doing something totally new.”

Bluebird instructor Jared Current checks out the new terrain. He approves. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

There’s something at Bluebird for everyone. For folks who want to ski difficult tree runs, this new terrain is it. Aside from the Bear Claw Meadows, expert skiing or riding ability is recommended. 

There’s more where that came from

Scheming is part of the game. It’s hard not to peek over to The Far Side (coming soon…) Photo: Justin Wilhelm

With 35% of our terrain still waiting for a little more snow, Bluebird’s Bear Mountain location has plenty more tricks up its sleeves. The Far Side’s runs are named for the locals—the Hammerdown run is a nod to our hosts, while Krem de la Krem tips its hat to nearby Kremmling. Keep checking the Uptrack Journal for more info on the rest of Bluebird’s runs as they open this season!

Book a pass to explore the new terrain!

 

7 Reasons Women Crush Harder with Other Women

Before this weekend, Kelly Gazarik had only ever skied with men.

“I’d only been out with my brother or other male partners,” she says. “Then I saw that Bluebird was hosting a women’s clinic, and I thought this would be the perfect time to get a different perspective.” So she signed up for the Women in the Backcountry clinic, the first ladies-only ski touring and splitboarding clinic of the season at Bluebird Backcountry, Colorado’s backcountry-only ski area. 

The clinic covered everything from layering systems to finding gear that actually fits to, yes, handling periods on the mountain. Gazarik learned that women need to fuel differently than men, and that women have a natural tendency to be more calculating of risks—a valuable asset in the mountains. 

Instructor Brittany Konsella shares her insight on the assets women bring to the backcountry. Photo: Kat Ciamaichelo 

Another thing that really stood out, says Kat Ciamaichelo, who also attended the clinic, is how different the dynamics were in a women-only group

“There was a lot of laughing, which is, at least for me, something that’s different about women’s only groups. It’s so much more fun and goofy—all while still being respectful of the backcountry,” Ciamaichelo says. 

Gazarik adds that she felt more relaxed and more in tune with her intuitions because she wasn’t spending so much energy trying to prove that she belonged.

“That was a feeling I was really dealing with before this, because I just didn’t see that many women out there in the backcountry,” she says.

The fact that the course was taught by Erika Lee, an experienced Bluebird instructor, and Brittany Konsella, a coach with over 10 years of experience and the second woman to ski all Colorado’s Fourteeners, definitely didn’t hurt.

“It was extremely empowering,” Gazarik says. “Having a female mentor who’s been there, done that—it just makes backcountry skiing feel so much more attainable. It helped with my confidence so much. By the end of it I was like, OK, I do belong here. I can do backcountry.” 

As for our other takeaways from ladies-only tours? Read on. 

Backcountry touring in an all-ladies group can help build confidence and camaraderie. Photo: Kat Ciamaichelo

Our 7 Favorite Things About Skiing with Women 

1. There’s amazing camaraderie. 

In a women-only group, there’s a ton of built-in shared experiences—everything from realizing you’re the only girl on the skin track, to discovering you have to pee just when there’s no more tree cover in sight. That translates to automatic camaraderie. “There’s this welcoming, fun, laughter-filled environment that you get with girls,” says Ciamaichelo. “You can just hoot and holler the whole way down, and there’s other people hooting and hollering with you.”   

2. Women have a different approach to risk assessment. 

One of the biggest cruxes of backcountry skiing is the constant risk assessment and communication it takes to stay safe. In this weekend’s clinic, Konsella explained that women tend to be more cautious than men—and that preference to take in more data and look at the whole picture is a good thing. When women ski together, they tend to avoid more of the heuristic traps of wilderness decision-making, and take a more calculated approach to avalanche terrain. The result: Less unnecessary risk. 

3. Communication feels easier.

With mostly male partners, a lot of women find it tough to disagree with the group, even when the terrain is setting off internal alarm bells. “I think it’s very easy to let myself think that a male knows more than me, even when I’m confident in my knowledge of the backcountry and my understanding of the snow science,” says Ciamaichelo. “It’s very easy for me to let a guy intimidate that confidence.” With women, on the other hand, decision-making often feels more collaborative.

Thoughtful discussions were a hallmark of this weekend’s clinic. Photo: Kat Ciamaichelo

4. Representation matters. 

When you never see anyone who looks like you in the backcountry, it’s easy to feel like you don’t belong there. Backcountry skiing or splitboarding in a group of people with shared backgrounds goes a long way toward building confidence—and showing other people like you that they’re welcome in the backcountry, too. (That same philosophy applies to another important topic: improving racial diversity in skiing and snowboarding.) 

5. It can feel less competitive. 

“I like skiing with men, but in a women’s group, things can feel more chill,” says Bluebird’s social media manager Whitney Bradberry. “We skin at a conversation pace rather than trying to destroy ourselves to reach the top. We push each other, but there’s less ego—we’re just out there to have some fun and get some exercise.”

6. You often learn more. 

There are a lot of amazing male instructors, but many women say they learn better with other women. One example: “My first few backcountry skiing experiences were with a guy I was dating, and I think because he wanted me to have a good time, he did everything for me without really explaining what was going on,” says Emma Walker, Bluebird Backcountry’s brand guru. “But I want to be self-sufficient in the backcountry. I like skiing with other women because it pushes me to learn skills for myself.” 

7. It’s a great way to meet other lady crushers.

This weekend, Gazarik and one of the other attendees exchanged numbers and plan to go backcountry skiing together soon. It will be Gazarik’s first female backcountry skiing partner—and, she hopes, not her last. 

 

Looking to tap into some serious lady power on the skin track? Join in on Lady Laps every Sunday at Bluebird.  

How Bluebird Backcountry Works to Keep Our Community Safe

At Bluebird Backcountry, we hope our guests have fun (and maybe even learn something), but safety is our top priority. That’s true whether we’re talking about avalanches, weather conditions, or other risks associated with traveling in the mountains. 

It’s also true — and we never thought we’d have occasion to say this — about operating during a pandemic. That’s why we spent the lead-up to the 2020/21 ski season developing a comprehensive COVID-19 Plan. Our plan has been approved by Jackson County, where Bear Mountain is located, and by the State of Colorado. To keep our guests and staff healthy, we:

  • Communicate with guests before they arrive at Bluebird
  • Strictly enforce measures like physical distancing and mask wearing for all guests and staff
  • Frequently and carefully sanitize common areas
  • Have a response plan in place in case of a positive test result or exposure
  • Make sure our guests never, ever have to wait in a lift line

Here’s what you need to know about Bluebird Backcountry’s efforts to keep our guests and staff safe during these uncertain times.

Communicating Early and Often

A chairlift with a sign that reads "Sorry, out of service. Please use skintrack"

No lifts means no lift lines, which means less worrying about physical distancing.

Bluebird believes in developing good backcountry habits, like clear communication, early on. That’s why we’ve worked hard to make sure guests are aware of our COVID-19 policies before they arrive on site. (Check out what a day at Bluebird looks like.) 

Our efforts to prevent COVID-19 transmission begin before guests show up at Bear Mountain. This means having guests sign waivers online to minimize in-person contact, limiting the number of people on our 1,200 acres of terrain to 200 or fewer, and minimizing the number of people signed up for lessons to a number smaller than the CDC-recommended max. 

Contact Tracing

Face covering requirements are strictly enforced at Bluebird. There are still plenty of smiles under those masks!

We’re keeping careful records of everyone who shows up at Bluebird. We require all guests to have a day pass or season pass, and our new scanning system ensures we know who visited and when. This means that in the event of a positive test result, we’re able to quickly notify everyone who we know was in close contact. 

Like many ski areas, much of our staff resides in communal housing during the season. Bluebird staff are assigned to “pods,” meaning they primarily interact with members of their own households. (Don’t worry; our team is awesome and gets along just fine.)

On the Mountain

Backcountry travel lends itself to physical distancing as everyone settles into their own pace on the skin track.

Bluebird takes COVID spread prevention seriously at the mountain. We’ve moved as much of the day outside as possible to minimize person-to-person contact. On the rare occasion that folks do need to be in the lodge, face coverings are strictly required, and markers on the ground help guests maintain at least 6 feet from one another. Masks are also required when passing on the skin track and any other time physical distancing of 6+ feet can’t be maintained. Oh, and have we mentioned that no lifts = no lift lines? 

Our on-mountain staff has also been trained to understand as much as possible about COVID transmission, symptoms, and the requirements for sanitizing, distancing, and personal protection. Bluebird staff knows management will have their backs when it comes to enforcing those rules, too — that’s why we’re not shy about making sure everyone on site is wearing face coverings properly.

Response

In the event of a confirmed case of COVID at Bluebird, our contact tracing procedures mean we’re prepared to notify all staff and guests who we know were in close contact and may have been exposed. When staff may have been exposed, we provide testing resources and stay isolated until negative results come back. 

The bottom line: We care more about health and safety than making a buck. If a situation dictates that it’s best for our staff and guests to close down, we’re prepared to do so until guidelines signal resume operations again. In that case, we’ll work to notify guests as quickly as possible. (For more on our refund policy, check out our COVID page.) 

Next Steps

We’re continuing to refine our COVID plan as we get more information about the virus to better protect you, our staff, and the season. As a result, we’ll be implementing some changes in January 2021 and beyond, including (but not limited to): 

  • Moving all staff meetings outdoors
  • Implementing a testing program for staff
  • Improving ventilation
  • Developing redundant staff pods within each team
  • Cross-training staff on other team duties
  • Building additional safety barriers between staff and guests at check-in and in the rental shop
  • Activating a limited operations plan to remain open should any essential staff members get COVID in the future

Questions about Bluebird and COVID-19? Read more about whether it’s safe to ski during a pandemic or send us an email at info@bluebirdbackcountry.com

Bluebird Opening Day Crowns Nerf Biathlon Champion

After months of clearing deadfall, grading roads, building yurts, and mapping 4,200 acres of uncharted terrain, Bluebird Backcountry opened the gates at Bear Mountain to skiers and riders for the first time. To celebrate the inaugural tours—and to ring in the New Year—the Bluebird team threw a serious party. 

Searching for Champagne

One of Opening Day’s marquee events: a beacon search contest with a fizzy twist

Round after round of heated competition ensued. Couples faced off. Family members competed against one another. By the final round a clear victor emerged: One of our youngest competitors located the buried champagne a full seven seconds faster than anyone else despite a (socially distanced) crowd of determined hecklers. (He was under 21, but his dad was pretty stoked.)

 

The beacon search contest had some New Year-themed surprises.  Photo: Justin Wilhelm 

Introducing Your Nerf-Gun Biathlon Champion

Next up: Friday afternoon saw Bluebird’s first-ever nerf-gun biathlon. This one was just as tight a contest. Competitors showed off their gun-slinging flourishes, traded some serious trash talk, and, eventually, Steve Goodman pulled ahead, his lighting-fast touring skills making up for his under-polished marksmanship.

After three laps and three rounds of shooting, he reached the final challenge: Spinning around in a leather office chair and hitting a cowbell. He executed this task flawlessly and was crowned champion. 

 

It’s all in the breathing. Contestants let fly in our first annual Nerf Gun Biathlon. Photo: Kathryn Ciamaichelo 

Music and Voodoo 

Meanwhile, instructors taught $5 clinics on everything from gear repair to winter navigation, and founders Erik and Jeff led tours around the mountain. And, at the end of the day, guests enjoyed a rousing game of Kick the Grump, which involved a sturdy kickball and a snowman with “2020” painted on its side.  

On Saturday, Steamboat Springs’ Morningside String Band came to play. While cold temperatures and high winds forced them to play in the lodge for the first part of the afternoon, the weather eventually broke. The set moved outside, and dozens of skiers and riders gathered to listen.

For many of those present, it was the first time they’d heard live music since March. 

“It was a really special moment,” says Kat Chiamaichelo, a Steamboat local who was present throughout the weekend.  

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry 

And what’s a party without refreshments? Guests chowed down on giant s’mores, locally made breakfast burritos from Moose Cafe, free BBQ, and, of course, a champagne toast by the fire pit. (Got FOMO? No fear—s’mores and Sunday BBQs will be available on the mountain all season long.)

 

Dark chocolate salted pretzel s’mores? Dreamy. Photo: Kathryn Ciamaichelo.

And, of course, there was plenty of skiing and riding. To make sure everyone had the right equipment, the team cut the ribbon on our brand-new fleet of Weston Backcountry and Black Diamond rentals. 

Six inches of powder left left skiers and riders plenty to work with. There were buttery turns, playful tree-skiing, and miles of touring to be had. 

It’s been a long year of preparation, but this weekend, Bear Mountain delivered. We can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store, and we’re looking forward to hitting the slopes with all of you in the coming weeks! 

 

The first turns of the season did not disappoint. Photo: Justin Wilhelm.