Geneva Basin - Backcountry Skiing
Though it's been closed for decades, Geneva Pass Ski Area offers an out-of-the-way backcountry experience for skiers looking to avoid traffic—both on I-70 and in the lift line.
The round-trip distance from the winter closure gate to Geneva Basin and back is just under seven miles. Additional mileage depends on the number of runs you ski.
Destination Distance From Downtown
Most of the runs on the east side of the old ski area are about 30 degrees in steepness. That's comparable to a black diamond run, but the decades since Geneva Basin's closure have added myriad additional obstacles: new trees, unmarked rocks, and, of course, avalanche danger. Anyone venturing into avalanche terrain should check the day's local forecast (http://avalanche.state.co.us/), and should carry and know how to use rescue gear, including an avalanche transceiver, probe, and metal shovel.
Time To Complete
It's about four miles from the winter closure gate at Mile 7 of the Guanella Pass Road to the base of the ski area. Most of this distance is at a gentle grade on the snow-covered road, though there's a set of steep switchbacks just after Mile 9. Plan to skin for an hour to an hour and a half to reach the base. An old snowcat track leads the way from the southeast end of the base—looker's left when you're facing the ski area—to the top of the mountain (20-45 minutes, depending how far up you skin), with countless options for the ski down. From the broad meadow at the base of the ski area, it takes about 30 minutes to ski back to the parking area. Skiers probably won't need skins, but splitboarders may want to consider transitioning—several portions of the road are flat enough to merit skating technique.
Spring and Winter
Guanella Pass offers countless options year-round, but the backcountry skiing at Geneva Basin is best taken advantage of in the winter and early spring, when there's enough snow on the ground to cover trees and rocks.