When you think Copper, you probably think steep, powdery pitches down Spaulding Bowl and the Tucker Mountain snow cat access trails, Resolution Bowl’s black diamond Drain Pipe with its precipitous and sharp-mogul descent, and the playful cruisers shooting down Collage and Andy’s Encore that lead to more après ski adventure.
But did you know Copper also offers free, guided snowshoe tours leading into some pristine backcountry trails? I wasn’t aware that Copper offered this jewel of an activity, and I’ve been skiing here for years.
I got a taste of the fun last week when friendly Copper Mountain Resort Ambassadors Steve Cornwell and Will Chester led a small group of us on a 3-mile, 3-hour tour from Union Creek up toward Vail Pass. These helpful and spunky guides in the bright green coats thoroughly know the mountain, plus they graciously offer up hand warmers, snacks, and water to keep their guests happy along the way.
This was a bluebird day, perfect for soaking in the gorgeous landscape. While we journeyed into the wilderness, Cornwell entertained us with interesting tales of nesting owls in the rafters of the I-70 underpass, lynx resettlement from Tucker Mountain, the necessity of tree-well avoidance and avalanche safety, the process by which Ponderosa pines suffer from pine beetle kill, and why exactly that striped bra is decorating a small pine tree also laden with boxer shorts and shiny beads.
The time flew by and I was hungry for even more adventure as we reached our half-way mark. At that point Chester and Cornwell sparked my wanderlust by motioning toward the sign marking an adjacent trail leading up to popular Janet’s Cabin - part of the 10th Mountain Division’s extensive system of huts used for backcountry lodging. I would definitely plan that in for another day.
“You can take a day trip up to the hut for a picnic, or you can reserve it for a night or two and make a longer trip either via the West Tenmile trail at the top of Copper’s K and L lifts, or by starting at the trailhead at the top of Vail Pass,” our guides told us. (I’ve stayed in a couple of huts in the Tenth Mountain Hut system, and it’s definitely worth the sign-up and wait for these backcountry treasures.)
“Copper's snowshoe tours are great for acclimating to altitude if you’re visiting Copper from lower elevations; for orienting you to the snowshoe trail options nearby; and a perfect alternate activity for friends and family who just really don’t like to ski,” says Cornwell.
Click here for more Copper Ambassador Snowshoe Tour details and call Guest Services at 970.968.2882 x45862 to make reservations.