The Grand County outfitter taking skiers to ‘powder-sure’ stashes
Matt Appleford stops and turns to gaze at the powder-choked slope he just skied. He sees one of his clients drop in and disappear beneath a wave of cold-smoke pow, and smiles as he hears her scream with delight. Appleford and his clients are on a trip with the Adventure Project, and they’re a long way from Grand County, where Appleford’s ski guiding outfitter is based.
They could be anywhere from the sky-scraping peaks of the Chilean Andes to the birch-covered Japanese Alps. But one thing Appleford and the Adventure Project claims is that no matter where they are, there will be powder snow. And lots of it.
“We focus on taking people overseas on these really fun adventures to the more under-the-radar locations where we can find really good snow and, just as importantly, immerse (clients) in the local culture,” said Appleford.
Appleford founded the Adventure Project in 2010, inspired by his immense love of skiing.
Born in the United Kingdom, he grew up skiing in the Cairngorm Mountain Range of Scotland and on dry slopes in England. In the late ‘90s, he was able to ski in the Alps of Europe, and was awestruck by their massive vertical relief, soft snow and sprawling terrain. After earning his college degree in Australia, he worked for nine winters as a ski instructor at resorts in Australia, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Vermont and Colorado.
“Scotland is the true home of blue ice, which made me really appreciate these amazing places with lots of untouched powder,” he said.
Through his work as a ski instructor, Appleford fell in love with skiing off-piste, or venturing beyond a ski resort’s groomed runs and chairlifts in search of unique terrain and deep snow. He now seeks to take clients beyond the conventional ski resort with for powder and adventure.
“I’d started up a business in Australia, which was part adventure travel company,” Appleford explained. “When I left Australia, I thought that I could start that up in the American market.”
Appleford moved to Granby in April of 2020, amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He planned to base the Adventure Project out of Grand, but like so many other businesses, his company fell on hard times. With international borders locked down and more people without jobs, Appleford’s mission to bring adventurous skiers to far-away mountain ranges fell apart.
“I’m not going to lie. That was a tough time,” Appleford said. “Constantly monitoring the global situation with COVID, trying to see when countries would reopen, was stressful.”
Once countries started reopening their borders, he was finally able to kickstart his trips again.
“I had to get creative, since a lot of our destinations were still closed down,” Appleford said. “Finally I was able to start running some, which has eased the burden, both physically and mentally.”
As countries continue to ease their pandemic restrictions, Appleford plans to lead clients into incredible destinations. Last winter, the Adventure Project started running trips in Uzbekistan and China, in addition to Japan, Macedonia, Chile, Georgia and India.
“My focus is to keep exploring these new places,” said Appleford. “There are so many cool, under-the-radar places where you can find good snow.”
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