Arapahoe Basin, CO, May, 2000--Just as you reach the top of your skiing level ski resorts across North America transform into summer adventure destinations. I checked into one of these camps at Arapahoe Basin, CO to see if I could take my skills to the next level mountain adventure.
This was no clinic on bashing through racing gates or making pretty turns on corduroy. I found a group of 14 advanced skiers ready to explore steep slopes, tight chutes, and backcountry ski conditions. Taking a lead in the freeskiing movement, Arapahoe Basin hosts the Chris Anthony Adventure Freeskiing Camps.
"Resorts are trying to be a little more aggressive, on the cutting edge of the ski culture," said Chris Anthony, 1996 Alaskan Extreme Skiing Champion, and a professional backcountry skier featured in Warren Miller films. "There's a lot more people venturing into the backcountry so we thought we need to bring up not only their skills and fundamentals but also their route selection and awareness of the environment with regards to avalanche danger."
Over two days Anthony instructs participants in the finer points of skiing through backcountry conditions. He had us launching off of cornices into variable spring snow, navigating around trees and rocks, descending steep narrow chutes, and navigating mogul fields.
Covering the basics of avalanche education, a ski patroller gives an on-slope discussion while a member of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center holds a slide show on the critical topic.
"The focus of the camp is to provide an opportunity for participants to break down their psychological and physiological barriers holding them back as a freeskier," said Anthony.