You don’t have to climb Denali to enjoy getting a taste of what ski mountaineering is all about. Colorado has many easy-to-climb, easy-to-ski peaks, as well as some extremely serious terrain that provides hardmen like Bettner ideal training grounds for Denali and other big peaks. Local classics include the Dead Dog Coulior, a wonderful from-the-top line off of 14,275-foot Torreys Peak, an easy objective from Boulder and a great line when skiing your first 14er.
And, with a new generation of lighter, easier-to-use equipment, it’s easier than ever to get into the sport.
That being said, a little education can go a long way. Check out these Boulder resources:
• The Colorado Mountain School offers a full line of ski mountaineering courses, including introductory sessions. They also teach courses in avalanche safety and rescue and ice climbing, skills you’ll need for bigger descents: coloradomountainschool.com • The Colorado Mountain Club has a Boulder chapter that offers a good mix of social opportunities (group ski tours, hikes, etc.) along with courses to hone your skills. Check out their mountaineering and backcountry skiing offerings at cmcboulder.org.
• The American Mountain Guide Association offers courses for those who want to go a bit farther and start to guide or lead trips. Their intense training programs are a must for guiding professionals.
You can learn more at amga.com.