Rollins Pass - Backcountry Skiing
Skip I-70 in favor of the Peak-to-Peak for mellow tree runs or steep skiing—Rollins Pass offers both, plus a remote, distinctly alpine feel.
The skin track is about 3.5 miles each way; rack up additional miles by skinning farther back into Rollins Pass, exploring the lakes in the alpine valley, or ripping a couple of laps.
Destination Distance From Downtown
The tour from the trailhead at Moffat Tunnel to treeline is about three miles each way. You'll gain 2,000 feet of vert in that span, so it's not particularly strenuous—the trail gains elevation gradually, punctuated by occasional short, steep sections. Around 11,000 feet, you'll catch sweeping views of the James Peak Wilderness, and the run possibilities are endless. Some low-angle terrain exists, but above treeline, you're mostly either in avalanche terrain or its runout, so good terrain management, rescue gear, and the knowledge to use it is essential.
Time To Complete
Getting from the trailhead to around 11,000 feet—where the alpine skiing begins—takes about an hour and a half at a moderate pace. From there, timing depends on how many runs you take and their difficulty; there's a huge variety of terrain in the Rollins Pass vicinity. Skiing out, of course, is quicker, though you'll want to plan on taking a few detours off the skin track for the excellent tree shots.
Spring and Winter
Rollins Pass is high—11,676 feet at its summit—so it holds snow in the early and late season. Winds gust hard year-round, so be prepared for variable snow conditions until warmer spring temps turn the snowpack isothermal.
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