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Winter sports are very popular with VC50 members and include Alpine skiing, Back Country ski touring, Snowshoeing, and Uphill skinning

Members sign-up to lead the different levels of alpine skiing and snowshoeing at the Winter Kickoff event.

Alpine Skiing


Organizer:  Jeff Halter
Vail Assistant Organizers:  Desi Desmarais, Joni Forman, Geoff Smith
Beaver Creek/Bachelor Gulch/Arrowhead Contact: Eric Noreen
Latte Skiing Contact: Joni Forman
NO sign up

Tuesday and Thursday at Vail; Monday at Beaver Creek/Bachelor Gulch/Arrowhead. Helmet is required -- no one will be allowed to ski with a VC50 group without a helmet.

Members who bring guests must ensure their guest has completed the Guest Liability Form.  The Form can be accessed by clicking the green button below. When you click the button, the form will appear in a new window.  Click on the small printer icon in the grey banner to print.   Present signed form to the ski-level Leader that morning.
.     Guest LiabilityForm 
Forms will also be available at the morning meeting place.

Members meet in the morning at a designated place and self select into ski level: blue, blue/black cruiser, blue/black bumpers, black and double black. The volunteer leader of the respective level announces her/his plan for the day and asks for a volunteer to be the sweep. Each group then proceeds outside, dons their gear and meets at the designated lift.

The “Latte” skiers group meets later in the morning. As a group, latte skiers decide where to ski that day.  Lunch break is optional.

At the end of a Tuesday or Thursday ski day, all skiers gather for après ski at one of the local venues in Vail.

The more informal group who skis on Monday at Beaver Creek/Bachelor Gulch/Arrowhead will be lead by Eric Noreen and others. The ski level is generally blue/black cruiser but may break into smaller groups to ski trees or bumps if conditions permit. See important details about lunch on each Monday ski event description available to members.   Parking is free at Arrowhead, but it fills up quickly so skiers are encouraged to arrive early.

NON-MEMBER and interested in Vail Club 50?
If you are interested in VC50 and would like to ski with us for 1 day before you decide on joining, click the green button below and email us.  A VC50 Leader will respond to your inquiry.


Helmet Required.
Earbuds HIGHLY DISCOURAGED for obvious safety reasons.

Realistically evaluate your ski ability and choose a compatible group:

Green:  VC50 does not organize skiers who only wish to ski green slopes.  If you are interested in learning names of other members who like to ski green slopes so you can self-organize, please contact Nancy Young, Winter Sports Director.

:  Intermediate and advanced beginners, blue and some green runs, mostly groomers.

Blue/Black Cruisers: Intermediate skiers, no moguls, no deep powder.

Blue/Black Bumpers: Intermediate and advanced skiers, moguls, powder optional depending on conditions and Leader.

Black: Expert and advanced skiers.  All terrain, deep powder.

Double Black: Expert skiers. All terrain, trees, deep powder and faster skiing than single black group.

  • Show up promptly and listen to Leader's instructions.
  • Self-select into ski ability group.
  • If any group is larger than 10 skiers, the Leader has the discretion of splitting the group and a 2nd Leader will be selected to lead the additional skiers.
  • Try to stay behind the Leader and always stop below the Leader to avoid collisions.
  • Ski single file or at least far enough apart from other skiers in your group.  Multiple aggressive skiers using the whole slope tend to ski into each other on open slopes.
  • If you decide to go your own way, tell, text or call the Leader BEFORE you leave the group.
  • Understand you are out there for enjoyment and SAFETY – first one down the slope is NOT the winner.
BackCountry Ski Touring 
Organizer: Mel Richmond
Starts January 4th
  Fridays: Alpine Touring--Intermediate and Advanced (All Terrain and Telemark equipment)  
  Mondays: Cross Country--All levels (check event calendar to determine events appropriate to your level.
(More traditional cross country outings using wider metal edges skis and fish scales.)

VC50 does NOT have events using track style equipment.

Signup required.
Members --Click on the Event Calendar to sign-up.

If gliding through quiet forests on fresh snow is something you yearn for, the club's backcountry ski program is packed full of weekly opportunities to do just that.  Under the leadership of experienced skiers, backcountry participants can look forward to exploring nearby trails and jeep roads in the beautiful mountain environment of Summit, Lake and Eagle counties. There will be outings on Fridays for more advanced skiers with All Terrain (AT) or Telemark equipment.  On occasion, there will be opportunities for Novice participants to increase their skills and confidence with practice sessions offered by VC50 volunteers at local Nordic ski areas.

Season starts on January 4th and continues into March. The full schedule with date, day leaders names, locations, level of difficulty, approximate distance and specifics of each trip are on the events calendar available to members and available for sign-up mid-December.  

Please review trip descriptions carefully and assess your ability to participate.  It is critical to the safety and enjoyment of all on each outing that individuals are honest with themselves about their ability level.

Be aware that backcountry ski outings require good physical conditioning (similar to conditioning level needed for marmot and hare hiking), the appropriate equipment and former XC ski experience.  While the trails are usually packed out, conditions vary with the weather, thus trails may be icy and hardpicked or covered in fresh powder requiring breaking trail.  The terrain is better suited to wider cross-country skis with metal edges and textured bottoms and not the narrower skis appropriate for track skiing at Nordic centers.  Telemark and AT (all-terrain) skis can also be used although necessitate the use of skins for uphill trekking.  

If you are considering buying equipment for the first time or upgrading, we urge you to speak to an experienced backcountry skier before purchasing.  The skis available at the local golf course Nordic center are NOT appropriate for VC50 backcountry outings.

Backcountry Skiing Definitions (compliments of REI with some edits)

Backcountry skiing (sometimes called off-piste skiing) is any type of skiing done outside the patrolled boundaries of a ski area. It’s often done with alpine touring or telemark gear, where you use climbing skins and bindings with a free-heel feature to ski uphill and then back down. But skiers who use standard downhill equipment and ride a lift uphill can often access backcountry terrain by leaving ski-area boundaries (terrain accessed from a ski resort is sometimes called sidecountry or slackcountry because of the easy access). Before you can go backcountry skiing, you absolutely must be equipped and properly trained for avalanche assessment and rescue.

Alpine Touring- Friday Outings for VC 50 typically intermediate and advanced skiers with good endurance capacity. 

This is a style of backcountry skiing that’s sometimes called AT for short or by the French word, randonnee. With alpine touring, you use special bindings that can switch between free-heel and fixed-heel modes so you can ascend slopes with your heels unlocked (climbing skins provide traction). When you get to the top, you remove your climbing skins, lock your heels back down and descend by making parallel turns as you would when downhill skiing. Before traveling in the backcountry, you must be equipped and properly trained for avalanche assessment and rescue.

Essential gear: backcountry skis, backcountry boots (or alpine touring boots), backcountry bindings, (or alpine touring bindings) backcountry poles climbing skins, avalanche safety equipment.  

Cross-County Skiing – Monday outings for VC 50- all levels can participate based on outing description. 

Often abbreviated as XC or called Nordic skiing, cross-country skiing is typically done on rolling landscapes that are gentler than downhill skiing terrain. The skis are long and skinny and the boots are flexible and designed to attach to the skis via bindings that leave your heels free to lift. With this style of skiing, you use human power to climb hills rather than taking a lift. There are two primary styles of cross-country skiing:

Classic skiing:This is a style of cross-country skiing where your skis remain parallel as you kick and glide forward and back (sometimes called a diagonal stride). You can do this at a groomed cross-country ski area with parallel tracks that your skis go in, or you can head out on ungroomed terrain, such as a forest road or a big open field, or a variety of trails in the area are suitable for this type of skiing.  Typically, there are not huge climbs or slopes to descend and the trails are more of a rolling hill variety.  Length and elevation gain determine the skill level required for the outing.  

Telemark and Skate Skiing:  VC50 does NOT do these types of skiing.


Guide to Backcountry Ski Equipment:

Boots for metal-edge touring skis: These boots are stiffer to provide greater support for turning. These boots still have flexibility, but are higher-cut, warmer and more durable than general touring boots. Some have a plastic “exoskeleton” for extra rigidity.

Once you’ve found the right boots, you can select compatible bindings.   Many VC50 backcountry skiers have the Rossignol BCX7 boot compatible with the NNN-BC binding (see below).

New Nordic Norm Backcountry (NNN BC) bindings are similar to NNN touring bindings, but are wider, thicker and more durable. This binding is available in either manual or auto models. With manual bindings you must bend over to lock your boots to the bindings or to release them. Some people find auto bindings difficult to use in really deep, soft snow. 


Metal-edge touring skis are made for skiing out-of-track and on steeper terrain. Compared to narrow touring skis, they are typically shorter for better maneuverability and wider for more stability and flotation in deeper snow, and they have metal edges for better grip in icy conditions. Their greater sidecut enhances turning ability on steeper slopes. All these features make them heavier than narrow Nordic track touring skis but more suitable for out-of-track terrain.  Several VC50 members have the Rossignol BC90 ski.  

Cross-Country Ski Length   In most cases, body weight is the main factor that will determine the length of ski you should choose. When shopping for skis on the REI website click on the “specs” tab on each product page for the recommended weight range. REI Back country skis


Shorter skis are slower but easier to handle for recreational skiers or those skiing in rugged terrain. Between size ranges? Go shorter if you’re less experienced or go longer if you’re very athletic or if you intend to progress quickly.

We’ll start the season in January and continue into March. The full schedule with specifics of each trip to include the leader’s name, location, degree of difficulty and approximate distance is available to members via the event calendar. Participants are encouraged to review trip descriptions carefully and assess their ability to participate. 

Guidelines for evaluating your XC level of expertise:
Hare  Extensive backcountry touring experience and excellent physical conditioning; strong kick and glide skier; ability to negotiate icy trails and/or break trail in deep snow; ability to control skis going downhill; has appropriate equipment and ability to climb/descend steeper terrain as well as stamina for long distance ski.

Marmot   Some backcountry touring experience and good physical condition; ability to kick and glide on skis; comfortable following in tracks that are broken through snow; has appropriate equipment; ability to stop and turn on skis; stamina to ski 4-5 miles.

Tortoise  Some experience on touring skis and physically fit; desire to strengthen kick and glide skills; comfortable following in tracks that are broken. 

Novice   New to the sport of ski touring with desire to learn; has appropriate equipment.


Organizer: Kay Wagner
Wednesdays. Starts: 1st week in December.  Check the Event Calendar after Nov 29th Winter Kickoff when snowshoe leaders have all signed up to lead.
Sign-up required. Click on the Event Calendar button to sign-up.
Three skill levels: tortoise, marmot and hare.

Day LEADERS from past seasons are encouraged to contact Kay Wagner prior to the Winter Kickoff event if you already know date(s) and location(s) of snowshoes you'd like to lead.

Get away from the crowds. Climb a steep snowy slope. Commune with nature. Admire the gorgeous views. Share the day with the VC50 snowshoers!

The snowshoe group is looking forward to making all of the above and more happen for you with another active season  this winter.  We plan to have outings from the beginning of December to mid-April and hope to have enough Leaders to offer an outing every Wednesday and Saturday of the season.
We will again some snowshoe social events. The popular full moon full moon snowshoe will be back in a different location so watch the social event calendar for details.  We plan to again have some on-mountain clubhouse dining events such as Game Creek snowshoe and lunch and Arrowhead Yurt -- again, watch the social event calendar for those dates and details. 

The Tennessee Cookhouse shindigs are popular and fill up quickly so sign-up as soon as info is posted on the website.  We will have the traditional end-of-season snowshoe at Gore Creek.

Uphill skiN AND SPIKE

Organizer: Mary Lamb Lucas

Saturday early mornings. Starts:  probably in December 
Sign-up not required.

Try something new: go UP the hill on skis OR spikes and THEN ski and spike down or ride the chair down if you have a pass. That is what makes this discipline unique and worthwhile.

Participants from past seasons describe it as “fun,” “exhilarating,” “goal fulfilling,” “heart pumping but worth it”! You can go as fast or as slow as you wish; the goal is to make it to the top and, more importantly, to have fun doing it.

Special equipment is required – skins on the bottom of your skis and bindings that release at the heel. This equipment can be rented OR microspikes/snowshoes. Bring a pack with some sort of hydration, dry gloves and hat for the downhill, along with another upper layer to put on for the downhill after sweating uphill.  Or, you can wing it and figure out what you need as you go!

Event Calendar