Backcountry group asks skiers to stay home |

Backcountry group asks skiers to stay home

Cameras at Berthoud Pass show a full parking lot by 9:30 a.m. Backcountry representatives are asking enthusiasts to consider their actions during the stay-at-home order.
CDOT camera

As Coloradans begin their first weekend under the statewide “stay-at-home” order, backcountry skiers are considering the wording of the governor’s order.

By 9:30 a.m. Saturday, cameras showed the Berthoud Pass parking lot already filling up with skiers and riders. A popular spot for backcountry, with the closures of uphill access at Winter Park Resort and others, some backcountry organizers fear that the overcrowding at the pass could lead to further shutdowns.

The Friend of Berthoud Pass, a nonprofit for the preservation of the pass, reposted a statement from the Colorado Backcountry Ski & Snowboard group pleading recreationists to think about their actions in relation to the local backcountry area.

“Loveland and Winter Park ski areas, as well as Rocky Mountain National Park, were originally open to recreation but due to crowding had to close,” the statement said. “Crowding at other areas could lead to the same thing, further adding to the stress on any remaining open areas, potentially leading to further closures.”

Many enthusiasts have pointed out that the executive order does allow for recreation “to engage in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, biking or running.”

However, on Friday, Gov. Jared Polis emphasized that recreation should take place close to home and pointed out that the pandemic “is not a vacation.” Backcountry representatives reflected the sentiment.

“The roads throughout the state will remain open explicitly for necessary travel,” the statement said. “We highly recommend you recreate within your own county.”

While Berthoud Pass remains open, the US Forest Service closed the warming hut and restrooms to prevent gatherings.

“We love the backcountry, but we should all come to understand just how self-serving of an activity it really is,” the statement concluded.

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