People who live near ski resorts use the phrase “skinning up” to describe the early-morning exercise of slapping the equivalent of carpets on their skis and slogging up a ski run to squeeze in a run or two before the chairlifts open. In Breckenridge you are likely to meet a town councilman, the mayor or even a newly-elected state representative according to yesterday’s Denver Post
Describing the scene as 50 or 60 people, some with dogs, on any given morning throughout the season between sunrise and 8 a.m., slogging up the hill then enjoying a free downhill run.
This is done with the not only ski area’s knowledge but with a code of conduct that the ski area’s promoted. When you trudge up, the area operator requests that you “skin up” in the middle of the run, so the snow-grooming machines can go up and down on either side of the run. And you should pick up after your dog. One long-time participant however noted that no one really does, but they should.
With the construction on Peak 8 at Breckenridge — a 500-unit project is being built – there is no parking, and construction trucks are in and out all the time. The Denver Post reported that the Breckenridge public safety officer, Dennis Kuhn, called a recent meeting about skinning and to disseminate information. Because there’s no skier drop-off at Peak 8, the area operator is running employees out on buses from the town gondola to Peak 8, and allowing people who want to skin up use those buses as well. Breckenridge is described as really reaching out and accommodating people. It was observed that many resorts refuse to let people skin up, even though it’s Forest Service land.
But there are legitimate safety considerations for the prohibition, tragic injuries have occurred when skiers collided with grooming equipment. See Ski Safety News, Winter 2005 for a review of any duty owed by Colorado ski area operators for grooming equipment on the slopes. Skiing in the area of active grooming could well result in being “skinned alive.”