For many Coloradans, Berthoud Pass probably doesn’t need to be advertised as a good spot for beginning backcountry skiers. On any given weekend, the 11,300-foot pass is the jumping-off point for a variety of recreationalists, from nordic skiers with dogs, to kids with sleds, to tourists slipping around in street shoes.
Luckily, these people aren’t equipped to get to far from the car because it doesn’t take long to get into avalanche terrain on Berthoud Pass. Heading up the west side of the pass you can easily skin to the summit of Russell Peak. But descending any of its flanks requires special conditions and good decision-making. If you’re uncertain, there are tons of safer alternatives in the trees. Something to keep in mind is that just because a slope has been skied, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. Know how to measure slope angle, and stick to your game plan.