Wed November 27, 2013
Outdoor Recreation

U.S. Forest Service Mulls Allowing Fees For ‘Uphilling’

Are you an 'uphiller?' That’s the increasingly popular practice of strapping skins on your skis and climbing the mountain in the other direction than intended – uphill – and bypassing those ski lifts.

New rules are in the works at the U.S. Forest Service, according to the Associated Press, that would "clarify that ski areas that lease public lands for their operations can charge people for uphill travel."

The Aspen Times writes that ski areas in the eastern U.S. had requested the authorization to charge fees for skinning or walking uphill.

Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of mountain operations Rich Burkley told the newspaper that they already have policies in place because 'uphilling' has been growing "exponentially" more popular in recent years. He said Skico isn’t interested in charging fees at this time at its four ski areas.

Policies vary at other Colorado ski resorts. Some require uphillers to get a pass, while others restrict times and routes.

Proponents of the fees cite situations where paying customers have been vying for the same areas of snow as uphill walkers. But the proposal isn’t sitting right with some backcountry enthusiasts, according to the Aspen Times article:

The prospect of ski areas gaining the ability to charge a fee for uphill travelers has some adventurers nervous. Colin Miller, a self-described avid backcountry skier from Denver, submitted public comments to the Forest Service about the proposed rules. The ski areas shouldn’t be allowed to charge people who are merely crossing a groomed slope but not using any resort service, he said.

The AP says the proposal would "encourage" ski resort operators to provide access to some slopes without a charge.

The Forest Service is accepting comments on the directive until Dec. 2, 2013.

If your knees don’t already hurt from imagining the climb up the mountain, here are the Aspen/Snowmass rules for uphilling. Or you can check with the United States Ski Mountaineering Association to see if your favorite ski hill has uphill policies.