For the ultimate adrenaline junkie, Summit County adventure sports take place in the back country, in the air or on the slopes, whitewater or ice. These rigorous activities are only for those athletes with special skills and are often led by guides who’ve spent many years gaining knowledge of their sport, the alpine environment and high mountain rescue maneuvers. Not scared yet? You must be in the right place because Summit County adventure sports push the envelope for visitors from all over the globe who seek them out purposely. In summer, Class 5 rapids in the nearby Arkansas and Colorado rivers tempt whitewater kayakers and rafters who must remain wary of water temperature, currents and floating debris. In winter, CAT skiers at Arapahoe Basin are for experts accustomed to and adept in deep powder and trees. Colorado Kite Force, based in Silverthorne, provides lessons and supervision to daredevils who want to combine their love of skiing with air acrobatics. Rock and ice climbing trips leave from various points across Summit County and deliver their athletes and guides to ice falls or rocky terrain high above the valleys. For the lighter side of adventure sports in Summit County, look for winter events that feature avalanche dog demonstrations. These highly trained canines offer up wet noses and smiles that belie their keen rescue skills.
Summit County Adventure Sports Challenge
Of the more accessible Summit County adventure sports, hiking to the top of 14,000-foot mountain peaks (referred to as 14ers) is a pastime for many Coloradoans who are nicknamed peak baggers for their goal to hike each of the state’s 52 highest mountains. But locals and guests alike must use caution, dress in layers, hydrate and fuel properly (hello, calories!) while also remaining acutely aware of changeable weather conditions. Acclimatization to high altitude is required to avoid illness related to oxygen deprivation and overexertion. Ascents that begin at sunrise ensure that hikers will reach their peak destination before noon (after which bad weather and lightning strikes can be deadly). There are three 14ers in Summit County, and they are among the more reasonable peaks in Colorado: Quandary and Grays and Torreys (which are near enough for some very experienced and exceptionally fit hikers to reach the summit of both in a single outing). Research and preparation are required. These kinds of ascents are not for beginners.