Backcountry Sled-Skiing: Buffalo Pass, Colorado
by Stephen Bass
Colorado Avalanche Information Center
Colorado: Berthoud | Crested Butte | Loveland | Silverton | Uphill Skiing & Light Tours of Colorado
Washington: Baker | Crystal | Hurricane Ridge | Snoqualmie
Buffalo Pass is the mecca for backcountry sled-skiers in the Rockies. Nestled in the Park Range of the Rocky Mountains near Steamboat Springs, it is one of the only places in the world where you can drive 15 minutes from a resort, unload a trailer full of snowmobiles, and have a 55-mile network of maintained snow roads on public lands dedicated to mechanized skiing from mid-December til Gaper Day.
The orientation of Buff Pass makes it favorable for significant orographic snowfall in zonal flow, particularly northwest flow patterns. The frigid air from northwest Colorado adds to the magic of “Fluffalo Pass” by providing consistent light and blower powder all winter long. To top it off, Buff Pass competes with Wolf Creek Pass every season for having the deepest snowpack in Colorado. Buffalo Pass also has access to some of the best tree skiing in the world, varying from widely spaced and naturally gladed aspens in mellow terrain to tight and technical aspens and evergreens guaranteed to test any skier.The area boasts some of the oldest and largest old growth aspens in Colorado.There are several stands on the pass that are renowned for their top to bottom skiing amongst quaking aspens such as Forester’s Aspens, Double A’s, GalaxyTrees, and Quaker Bowl. However, the gem of Buff Pass is Soda Mountain. When the skies rip to blue, locals and tourists alike flock to the highest point on the pass for steep chutes, big drops, and technical terrain in Buff Pass’s deep, world class powder.
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