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Vail Sidecountry: Access Gates - Colorado, United States

by Swietlik  
with a GPSMAP 62s
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The gpx file contains the waypoints for 8 of the backcountry access gates at Vail.  I have included brief descriptions of each as well as a picture.  This file does not contain any tracks, just the way points for the gates where you can enter the backcountry from various chair lifts (some require minor hiking). 

The Vail Ski Area has a border and you are not supposed to cross it.  All of us have seen the signs and I am told that you can loose your lift ticket and even be fined if you "jump the lines."  But there are a few spots where a gate exists for legally exiting the ski area and entering the backcountry. 

One of the things they warn you about is a "costly rescue."  If you have a hunting licences, or a fishing licences, your rescue will be reimbursed (With the exception of the cost of an airlift as that constitutes an ambulance).  You can also have a rescue reimbursed if you get a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue card.  It's 3 dollars for the year or 12 for 5 years, seems worth it to me as opposed to a "costly rescue" if the unexpected happens. 

Keep in mind I am not a local, I'm just hear for a season.  That means I may have missed some of the backcountry access gates, and what I am told about the CORSAR card might not be dead on either (I did purchase one for myself though).  I am NOT an expert on backcountry sking anywhere.  If you have questions or doubts, contact the National Forest Service.

Description of way points:

Above Game Creeks:
You have to hike to get to this one.  Ride down lost boy from chair 7 and stay to left at the fork.  You will see plenty of footprints, alot of people hike up there just for the hard to get too powder in the Sun Down bowl.  This is one of the ways to do the minturn mile.

Game Creek:
You can get to this one off of Chair 7 as well.  Just follow Lost boy all the way to the end.  This access point will also work for the minturn mile.

Sleepy Time:
This access gate can end up real bad if you go to far to the left (left out of the gate).  If your not careful and go too hard to the left you'll end up missing the High noon lift and doing some hiking(or getting lost).  If you stay to the right you might have to deal with a cliff.  It's a tricky balance but it's good for some pow and if done right will land you at the High Noon Lift.  I think they call the run "WFO."

Top Of Blue Sky:
You can reach this access point from chair 37 or 38.  It will take you to Red Cliff but will require alot of hiking at the end I'm told. 

Blue Sky Petes
This gate will take you back to Orient express lift.  Stay to the right to avoid the cliffs and you'll end up in a drainage.  You may end up walking if you stay to far to the right.

Top of gondola:
You can reach this access point from the gondola or Chair 26.  You have to hike a short ways to get there.  this is the only one that does not have a warning sign about avalanches and other hazards.  The access point leads to west vail, many people use it to ski home at the end of the day.  I am told this area has no risk of avalanche.

Top of T-bar:
This is the access point at the top of the T-bar (lift #22).  This is another gate I've never been through, so I don't know for certain where it goes.  I'm told it goes into the mushroom bowl and you have to hike out from there.  I was also told by ski patrol on a chairlift and a friend that this leads to the East vail chutes.  Supposedly this is on the more dangerous gates because of cliffs and avalanches.

West of Pride:
This access point is west of the pride express chair lift.   If done correctly you can pop back out by the top of the cascade lift.  You can cut real hard to the west and and end up in cascade village or even matterhorn.

-  All the things you read about on the signs when you exit.
-  Follow all the precautions you normally would when entering the back country.
-  Get a Colorado Search and Rescue Card for 12 dollars (for five years) incase of an emergency. 
Vail, Vail Backcountry. Vail Backcountry Access, Vail Backcountry points, Vail Backcountry Access Gates
Photos: See all pictures and videos from Vail Sidecountry: Access Gates
Trip Info
January 08, 2011
Trip Location: Mid Vail, Colorado, United States
Length: 0.0 miles
Activity: Back-country skiing
Trip viewed 9,633 times

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