Photos: Aaron Dodds
FREESKIER’s annual Backcountry Ski Test, presented by Coors Banquet and The Ski Monster, took place in small town Silverton, Colorado. 15 backcountry skiers suited up in full gear for two days of ripping alongside guides from San Juan Expeditions. A lineup of next season’s skis, designed for optimal backcountry stoke, was thoroughly tested for uphill and downhill performance.
The Wyman Hotel served as home base for our skilled testers. Early Monday evening, skiers from Colorado and beyond poured into the swanky, boutique hotel for a welcome party. Amid the cocktail hour, the FREESKIER crew was hard at work prepping the hardware for the next days touring. On nearby clothing racks sat next season’s outerwear kits. Testers thumbed through clothes and ogled at the newest accessories and baselayers while the FREESKEIR team got everyone sized, layered and kitted up for the day ahead.
Come Tuesday morning, the skies were overcast, with fresh flakes dusting the town. Backcountry testers layered up for a day outdoors in 19-degree weather and 8-mph winds. After loading up on breakfast, the group strapped on beacons and stuffed their backpacks with mid-day snacks. A safety briefing from San Juan Expeditions regarding what to expect was the last step before carpooling to Coal Bank Pass.
Alongside the Mayor of Silverton himself, Shane Fuhrman, backcountry testers skinned up to explore steep shots, tight trees and higher elevations. After a powdery first lap, testers traded skis to get a feel for the different offerings. Once the groups had their fix, they headed back to the Wyman for an old-school pizza party with all the fixings.
The sun came out to play for day two of testing at Prospect Gulch. Blue skies and views for miles had both groups smiling despite their chattering teeth. Testers grabbed new hardware to rip a few party laps. Early afternoon, snow started dumping on the gulch, making for an extended powder day. Even after two days of face shots, our carefully selected team of testers woke up on Wednesday morning hungry for more, so we piled back into the trucks and headed up to pay our old friends at Silverton Mountain a visit to complete the ultimate trifecta of testing conditions
Stay tuned this September for FREESKIER’s Buyer’s Guide, skiing’s biggest gear bible, to see all published results from the Backcountry Ski Test. Not only will you find the best in the industry for backcountry skiing but also in-bounds gear and the newest line of outerwear. We took our sweet time testing all of next season’s gear so that you can pop into your nearest ski shop and know exactly what to look for.