Colorado’s winter tourism ad dollars will serve a new purpose this year: backcountry avalanche education |

Colorado’s winter tourism ad dollars will serve a new purpose this year: backcountry avalanche education

Jason Blevins
Colorado Sun
Sam Wheelock, of Golden, from left, Kelly Dohn, and Jazz Allen-Perkal skin uphill in the backcountry on March, 20, 2020, near Georgetown, CO. With many closures in Colorado due to the coronavirus pandemic, many more skiers and snowboarders opt for uphilling equipment to keep skiing in the backcountry and on ski resorts without chairlifts running. (Hugh Carey, Special to The Colorado Sun)

DENVER — In a normal year, late fall features Colorado ads enticing would-be vacationers from New York, Chicago, Dallas and Phoenix with images of powdery playgrounds.

But in this anything-but-normal year, the Colorado Tourism Office isn’t peddling vacations to out-of-state tourists. The office is redirecting its winter budget toward state residents with a call for responsible recreation in the remote winter wildlands. It’s not a clarion call to adventure in the backcountry. It’s a plea for heads-up playtime.

“The message we are sharing is safety,” said Cathy Ritter, the director of the Colorado Tourism Office. “We are operating from a position that we believe plenty of people will be heading into the backcountry already and we don’t want to be adding to that number.”

Colorado’s outdoors was exceptionally busy this year.

As more Coloradans turn to the mountains for respite, search and rescue teams are frazzled and land managers are stressed. They endured a record number of drowning in lakes and rivers this year and endless calls for help. And heading into what will be an extraordinarily busy winter in the backcountry, an alphabet soup of state and federal agencies are joining outdoor businesses and groups in a winter-long campaign asking Colorado’s winter backcountry explorers to ponder risks, be responsible and show respect.

The four-month Colorado Backcountry Winter Safety Campaign launched Monday, with a weeklong build toward urging all backcountry adventurers to take a safety pledge to “Know Before You Go,” “Recreate Responsibly” and “Care for Colorado.”



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