A backcountry skiing resort? - Here & There #2

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Welcome to Here and There, where I (Kyle) write and share insights about places, people, photography and sometimes other stuff. Last week’s newsletter had an 80% open rate 🥳.

If you’re still here after last week, welcome back! And if you’re new, 🎉it’s great to have you! I’m still figuring this whole thing out, so stick with me as I stumble through formats, topics, writing style and all that jazz. Feedback is always welcome.


This ski resort is human powered.

In notable news this week, Bluebird Backcountry announced that they’re opening a backcountry-only resort in Colorado, between Steamboat Springs and Kremmling. It’s an interesting development, and the first new ski resort in Colorado since Silverton opened in 2002.

While a lot of articles this week may paint it that way, this isn’t the first ‘backcountry only’ area. The Hankin Evelyn backcountry area, near Smithers, British Columbia, has been around for the last decade with a slightly different model. Hankin Evelyn has 11 cut runs, a small warming hut, lots of high alpine bowl access, no controlled terrain, and operates off of donations. Bluebird, on the other hand plans to operate more like a traditional ski resort—with ski patrol, a base area, rentals, guides, avalanche mitigation…and a $50 “lift ticket”.

It’s going to be an interesting journey for Bluebird. I don’t think they’re going to win over many experienced backcountry enthusiasts with what appears to be pretty mellow terrain and $50 to access. Additionally, you’re looking at a 2.5 hr drive from Denver, and there are a plethora of both advanced and “beginner” backcountry areas in the 1-1.5hr range.

However, the attraction of controlled terrain, ski patrol, and hot chocolate may be a winning combination for beginners that just want to try out backcountry skiing or practice in a more controlled environment. I think it has great potential on the education side. And there’s no question that resorts continue to get more crowded every year (the NYT even wrote about it).

But for me, the jury is still out. I think the growth of backcountry skiing has largely been driven by people escaping the crowds and costs at resorts, so forking over 50 bucks seems like a stretch. But I’m all for innovation in the space, especially if it’s on private land (even if I prefer the Hankin Evelyn model). I don’t have any qualms from a ‘backcountry purity’ perspective, I’m more just curious to see if the business model is sustainable. I wish them the best.

TLDR;

It’s cool to see something new in the ski space, but I think this feels a bit too much like a resort and not enough like backcountry to really be successful long term.

What do you think?


A few inspirations

@benjaminhardman — for a unique, stark and minimal side of Iceland

This tiny, off-grid, glamping cabin in Italy.

@tasmania — I really need to plan a trip to Tasmania. I mean, look at that.


Cruisin’

You don’t often hear about environmental innovation in the cruise industry but I occasionally jump into travel-related threads on Twitter and had a short convo with Hurtigruten, a Norwegian cruise line. I learned they were the first cruise company to eliminate single-use plastics…and their new ship is built with some pretty cool tech.


And in case you weren’t sure that there are some questionable people in charge of our public lands, this is actually something an official BLM account actually tweeted. This feels more like a tweet sponsored by an oil lobbyist than the start of a discussion 🤷🏻‍♂️. Take a deep breath, and then donate to the Sierra Club. Or the Environmental Defense Fund. Or POW. And vote.


Closing thoughts

I hope you found a bit of enjoyment from this short email in your inbox — plenty more to come. As always, feel free to reach out with ideas or feedback via email, Instagram, or Twitter. Have a great weekend 😁

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