Local Knowledge: Kelly Bastone
Backcountry enthustiasts Kelly Bastone and daughter Simone prepare to snowshoe up to Broome Hut on Berthoud Pass. Photo courtesy of Kelly Bastone.
Where is your favorite place to head for a day in the backcountry?
Hahns Peak, north of Steamboat Springs. It’s an exhilarating, scenic climb, and there are relatively safe, low-angle slopes that are super-fun. In the spring, I like Cameron Pass. We tend to overlook the Never Summer mountain range, because there’s so much that’s right around us. The higher elevations hold snow longer.
Do you have any advice regarding the best time of day to ski in the backcountry in spring when temperatures can vary?
The best time of day depends on the aspect you plan to ski. If you go in the morning, look for east-facing slopes that get the sun early. West or north-angled aspects are generally better for evening turns.
Do you need to be a certain level of fitness?
I don’t think so, but you have to really want to be there. I think everyone should be prepared to work a bit, but that’s precisely what makes it rewarding.
What equipment do you take with you?
Along with the basics (climbing skins, avalanche beacon, shovel and probe), I always bring extra clothing, including a super warm puffy jacket and mitts. I like to pack a small thermos of hot tea or chicken noodle soup. It is absolutely the best recuperative.
If you are on cross-country skis, is there a special technique for skiing in deeper snow?
With each stride, I like to make a sharp, strong up-step – which keeps your tips above the snow’s surface. It’s like marching, with high knees. It’s less work than trying to make your skis tunnel beneath the snow.
Can you offer any advice if you plan to take young children into the backcountry?
Keep mileage short. Let each outing become a game: play hide-and-seek, go sleuthing for animal tracks, or make a scavenger hunt that kids can complete while they ski. Games turn anything into an amusing adventure.
Where can you find the best scenery?
Our mountains mostly sit below tree line, so I like to admire the close-up views: the bear-clawed aspen forests above Dry Lake Campground, the lichen that drapes off the high-Alpine conifers. I never get tired of gazing at our snow-hushed forests.