Ski season is upon us and with many resorts slow to open this year, adventurers are looking to the back woods—backcountry skiing and touring that is.

The owners of Cripple Creek Backcountry, a touring and backcountry-specific ski shop founded in 2012, say they’ve already noticed an increase in demand this season. Co-owner Doug Stenclik says sales were up 200 percent year-over-year compared to last October.

The demand this year pushed Stenclik and co-owner Randy Young to open a fourth location and their first Front Range shop, something they’ve wanted to do since 2015. Cripple Creek has locations in Carbondale, Avon, Aspen, and now Englewood, which opened along South Broadway in early November.

“We really saw the writing on the wall this summer,” Young says. “Usually, the summer months are kind of a wash for us. This summer, the interest and the demand continued.” During a typical year, Cripple Creek gets increasingly busier from August to October, with sales booming in November. This year, sales exploded in September.

Cripple Creek is also seeing a delay in shipping from manufacturers due to increased demand. Young says they anticipate a winter similar to the bike frenzy seen this spring and summer. “We have bought every piece of gear that’s available from manufacturers,” he says. “We anticipate this being a big year, and we anticipate being well stocked well into the season. When customers are coming in, hopefully we’re going to have enough gear.”

Cripple Creek Backcountry. Photo by Cassidy Ritter

However, Young says some ski brands and styles are already sold out. Preseason orders were filled, but now manufacturers are waiting on materials sourced overseas. With COVID-19 restrictions, delays are unavoidable, and some skis won’t be available until January.

With some brands sold out early into the season and appointment bookings at a record high, Stenclik says it felt a little irresponsible having people drive to their mountain locations for a fitting. So, they opted to open a new location closer in Denver to service their Front Range clientele. “At our mountain shops, I couldn’t tell you how many people every week contact us from Denver or Boulder, and are interested in setting up an appointment to come and see us up in the mountains,” Young says. “It’s clear the demand is here. As soon as we were able, which turned out to be this season, we wanted to get down here and have a shop to start filling that demand.”

The Englewood location, similar to Cripple Creek’s other locations, sells new and used skis and boots for backcountry skiing, touring, and alpine touring. Cripple Creek also sells climbing skins, avalanche gear, clothing, and splitboard gear. Appointments for gear fittings are encouraged, but not required.

When allowed, Cripple Creek will get a beer and wine license at the Englewood location. “We want the shop to be a community center for backcountry skiers and people into ski touring to be able to hang out and have a beer,” Young says. “Obviously, that’s going to be a bit of a modified thing this year. We’re anxious to get back to times when that can be the case.” 

If you go: Cripple Creek Backcountry is open at 2807 S. Broadway in Englewood; Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Appointments for gear fittings are encouraged.