Uphill access policies for local ski areas have many areas holding off until later in the season to allow such activities as skinning, snowshoeing, and hiking.
Keystone Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort have adopted the same policies for the 2012-2013 season. Keystone began allowing uphill access opening day, Friday, and Breckenridge will begin allowing Nov. 9. Uphill access is only permitted during the resorts' off hours. It is prohibited to utilize uphill access during normal operating hours.
As trails at Breck and Keystone open for downhill access during business hours, those trails will also be available for uphill access during the off hours, according to Kristen Petitt Stewart, spokeswoman for Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Copper Mountain will allow limited uphill access beginning Dec. 25 with activities restricted to before and after the ski area's operating hours.
"With limited open terrain and aggressive snowmaking activity during this period, we feel that the early season presents more opportunity of incidents on the hill," said Austin Williams, spokeswoman for the mountain.
Currently Arapahoe Basin is rewriting its policies for a mid-November anticipated announcement and is not permitting any uphill access at this time.
"We're fine tuning our policy," said Alan Henceroth, ski area chief operating officer. "We're still going to allow uphill access when it's ready and available. It's still very early in the season and there are a lot of mountain grooming and snowmaking operations taking place."
Loveland, too, will not allow early season uphill access but anticipates trails will be ready during mid-December according to Duncan Maxwell, Loveland director of events and promotions.
"It can be very dangerous when people are getting really close to grooming and mountain preparation equipment," Maxwell said. "We want everyone to be safe and it's just best to wait until those types of operations have ceased and natural snow has taken over a little more."
Runs undergoing snowmaking operations including trail work, equipment across runs, snowmaking, snowmobile and snowcat use make it unsafe for skiers recreating on the areas and uphill access is not permitted during mountain preparation.
Local ski areas agree uphill access for skinning, snowshoeing, hiking or other activities should not impede or obstruct ski area operations at any time. For the safety of uphill recreators, trails undergoing mountain preparation will be marked 'closed.' Violation of uphill access policies for local ski areas could result in prosecution for a criminal offense.
Loveland Ski Area recommends two routes for uphill activities. Route A extends up to the top of Chair Two following trails Home Run, Tango Road to A/B Split at the Creek Trail intersection up Turtle Creek to Fire Bowl.
Loveland's Route B for uphill access goes up Creek Trail at A/B Split to Apollo and Rookie Road to the top of Chair Nine.
Copper Mountain's designated routes for uphill access from East Village, head up Skid Road to Main Vein to Rhapsody ending at Solitude.
From Center Village, skinning, snowshoeing and hiking is permitted up Main Vein to Rhapsody ending at Solitude and another trail beginning up Carefree or Lovery to Coppertone, east on Easy Road ending at Solitude.
At Union Creek, uphill access and special trails are available up Roundabout to West Ten Mile ending at the national forest access point gate.
Breckenridge recommends four uphill access routes on Peak 7, 8, 9 and 10. Starting at Peak 7, start at Fort Mary B to Claimjumper to Lower Forget Me Not to the top of Independence, returning down the same route.
Uphill recreators more inclined to Peak 8 can begin at Pringmeier to Upper Four O'Clock to Lonewolf Access up to the T-Bar hut returning down the same route.
On Peak 9, uphill access is recommended from Silverthorne to the Lower America to Bonanza to the top of Beaver Run Chair or top of Mercury, returning down the same route.
On Peak 10, use Silverthorne run to Red Rover onto Crystal to the top of Falcon for uphill access.
At Keystone, the River Run and Spring Dipper top-to-bottom routes are the most popular for off-hour uphill access to the ski area, according to Craig Simson, Keystone ski patrol director.
"We really love it when people come up here and we encourage everyone to take advantage of our top-to-bottom uphill access," Simson said.