Here and Now: Navigating the popular backcountry zone of US-40, Colorado, USA

Here and Now: Navigating the popular backcountry zone of US-40, Colorado, USA

WORDS & PHOTOS • Jack Arrix (@jarrixpics)

For Colorado backcountry enthusiasts, Berthoud Pass is a household name. Once a ski area established in 1937, Berthoud has transformed into one of the most popular backcountry destinations in Colorado, ever since its lifts stopped spinning in 2001. Some may say the zone has become too popular over the years—as evidenced by full parking lots every weekend—but the location’s ability to draw in backcountry skiers of all experience levels has undoubtedly been positive for the state’s grander skiing culture. Thanks to its easy access, diversity of terrain and sublime views, Berthoud is an absolute staple in the Rocky Mountains’ backcountry skiing scene.

Arriving at one of four parking lots alongside scenic US-40, you’ll find a few things in common with fellow skiers: your stoke level is high; the traffic you experienced on I-70 was most likely brutal and you probably brought along a four-legged companion to enjoy the uniquely accessible terrain with you. There’s a genuine sense of community not always found at more territorial backcountry havens.

You can expect the same morning routine with each visit to the pass. Once the boots are strapped, the conversation begins among skiers regarding conditions, promising lines and perhaps the types of beers and snacks are stashed in the trunk for the post-ski hang-out. Everyone is there for the same purpose and, even though we are all strangers, we care for one another and rely on each other to stay safe. After multiple high-fives and best wishes, the community of friends both old and new part ways and begin the journey uphill.

Up, up we go. Skier: Mike Carey
Up, up we go. Skier: Mike Carey
And down he goes.
And down he goes.
Transitioning.
Transitioning.
And back up.
And back up.
Mike Carey, rolling down the windows.
Mike Carey, rolling down the windows.
Carey looks back at where he came.
Carey looks back at where he came.
Thumbin' it.
Unknown uphillers.
Unknown uphillers.
Pole plant and smile.
Pole plant and smile.
This truck looks to be exactly where it belongs.
This truck looks to be exactly where it belongs.

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