by Wagner Skis / Dec 01, 2020

Season 3, Episode 3: Entering the Backcountry - Doug Stenclik

Doug Stenclik opened his Cripple Creek Backcountry shop in Carbondale in 2012 with a premonition that uphill skiing was about to explode. It did, and how he’s got three shops in Colorado and an online site that ranks among the top sellers of all backcountry and ski touring equipment.

Doug’s vision began with a distinct belief that skiers should not be making life-and-death decisions while they are learning a new sport. His take is that backcountry skiing done right can be just as safe as skiing a resort. It’s all about making the right decisions early. Liberal uphill policies at a growing number of ski resorts has enabled uphill skiing to thrive.

And that’s good as we head into the great unknown for the coming season. Doug saw sales at his Cripple Creek shops and website explode after resorts suddenly closed in mid-March. Could that be a clue of what we can expect for the upcoming ski season?

Listen in as Doug riffs on the “out of order” alignment in backcountry skiing and avalanche education, how resorts embracing uphill is fostering the backcountry movement, how resort skiing can help your backcountry turns, the right ski for the right day and what he sees ahead as a ski season unlike any other unfolds. 

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[4:30] Avalanche education, it’s talked about out of order. Risk of life should not be your first concern when you are learning how to kickstep.
[6:10] Resort uphill policies are enabling the transition from touring to backcountry.
[10:30] “Find the worst snow possible.” Tips for honing backcountry skills while skiing off chairlifts.
[13:20] Is the boom in backcountry ski equipment sales in late March an indication of what’s to come?
[18:00] Trail running shoes, home gym equipment and bikes are hot commodities in the pandemic summer. Could uphill skis join that list this winter?
[20:30] Don’t necessarily think of touring as a better way to ski. “Think of it as a better way to hike in the winter and get outside and exercise in the winter.”
[22:50] Cripple Creek encourages all buyers to sit for a virtual consultation when buying an uphill kit.
[24:10] Light is right. “Know that you will eventually go lighter … 90% of the time you are going uphill.”
[27:00] Industry rollercoaster trends push the single-tool quiver but best bet it to have a resort ski and a backcountry ski.
[31:10] Best advice: Enjoy the whole day, the uphill and downhill as one journey in the mountains.


"Think of backcountry skiing as a better way to hike in the winter and get outside and exercise in the winter.” 
"Enjoy the whole day, the uphill and downhill as one journey in the mountains. "

More episodes

S3, E1: Mike Douglas: The Godfather of Freeskiing
S3, E2: Roko Koell: Powder Skiing Is for Everyone
S3, E3: Doug Stenclik: Entering The Backcountry, The Gear & The Tips
S3, E4: Wes Wylie: Skiing and Healing, How to Ski Forever
S3, E5: Timing is Everything – Cody Townsend
S3, E6: More Than Just Avy Skills – Erik Lambert
S3, E7: Fancy Footwork – Ted Mahon
S3, E8: Be the Water, not the Rock – Skylar Holgate


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