Vail Pass

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Total Zones


Beacon Guidebooks

Vail Pass Overview

When we published the first edition of Light Tours in 2017, I had mixed feelings about the concept: a selection of low-angled, avalanche-safe routes. I wondered how it might be received. Considering what I saw in ski movies and social media, did everyone ski nothing but avalanche slopes? Not so. As it turned out, an increasing number of muscle-powered skiers have little interest in confronting high-consequence avalanche terrain, or for that matter the sheer faces of big mountains. Consequently, we present the second edition of this guidebook—again focusing on the mellow side of ski touring, which we define as routes with enough pitch for making turns, but generally of low enough angle to obviate most avalanche danger. It’s important to point out here, though, that just about any skiable slope can slide, given the right conditions. In other words, the routes we’ve detailed may reduce your exposure, but they do not eliminate it. Our second-edition improvements are many. We’ve doubled the number of routes and removed the resort uphills that proved difficult to detail because of closures or ever-shifting resort policies. Furthermore, we improved our formatting: it’s simpler—just the information you need. As for the proverbial “how to use this book,” a few tips for those of you new to the game: Find the perfect log, sit down, and eat a leisurely lunch; take your kids along; convince a partner to try something new; concentrate on the exercise and fresh air (not the adrenaline); be proud you’ve chosen a sustainable style of ski touring you can enjoy for decades.

Zones Covered

Uneva Ridge
ATES Level
General Aspect
The Vail Pass backcountry, west of I-70, is virtually given over to motorized recreation in the form of snowmobiles, snowcats, and snowbikes. For peace and quiet, head for the easterly, non-motorized side of the highway. Here, you’ll find terrain couched in the bowls and ridges of Uneva Peak. There’s something for everyone, from springtime corn snow bowls to extreme north faces. For a moderate and fairly safe tour, the option described here works well.
  • Uneva Ridge Approach
  • South Uneva, Lower Slopes
  • Uneva Ridge Exit