Cripple Creek Backcountry’s Top Gear Picks for Ski Season 2024

Over 10 years ago, Doug Stenclik and Randy Young asked industry insiders if North America was ready for its first uphill-only ski shop. The Elk Mountains Grand Traverse was already in its 15th season, “skinning” wasn’t a new verb anymore and ski touring technology was beginning to blossom. “No” was still the answer they got.

So Doug and Randy launched Cripple Creek Backcountry in Carbondale anyway, followed by a location in Vail a few seasons later.

I wandered into the Lionshead Cripple Creek for the first time in 2015 with a broken tech binding and a defeated look on my face. The employee behind the counter poured me a local IPA from their signature workbench tap as the ski techs passed my ski around, squinting to see the fractured inner springs. Twenty minutes later I walked out with a solution and that’s about how it goes every time I stop in.

Since my first visit, Cripple Creek has moved from Vail to Avon and answered hundreds of my questions. As the snow started falling this season, I asked Doug about his top gear picks for 2024 for skiers in the Vail Valley. As expected, he had recommendations at the ready:


Tecnica Zero G Peak

Tecnica Zero G Peak: Charging up the skin track is fun and all, but at the end of the day, we put in the work for the downhill. Tecnica makes boots that do both really well. That’s why the Cripple Creek team has been so psyched on their most recent offering, The Zero G Peak line. At under1,000 grams per boot, these boots were designed to float up the skin track. What the spec sheet doesn’t tell you is how well these boots perform on the downhills. They’re built with a tried-and-true buckle layout for fuss-free transitions and their Carbon-Injected Power Frame transfers power and holds an edge like a much beefier boot.


Dynafit Radical Outerwear Kit: Looking fast is halfway to being fast, but Dynafit softshell jacket wants your kit to fit right, breathe well and keep you protected out there too. Their new Radical Softshell Jacket and Softshell Pants, available in both men’s and women’s versions, ski uphill and downhill like they were designed for the Gore Range’s long approaches and drysnowfall. They offer better breathability than waterproof hardshells, sport tons of vents and they stretch and move with you. Plus, they’re Italian and made from recycled materials.



Scott Couloir Freeride Helmet

Scott Couloir Freeride Helmet: There are plenty of great touring helmets out there. Same goes for alpine helmets. Few cross over between the two disciplines quite as seamlessly as Scott’s Couloir Freeride Helmet. It checks the ski touring boxes — it’slightweight, has headlamp keepers and it breathes well. It’s also got the all-day wearing Halo Fit System and warm padding that’ll keep you safe and comfortable while you’re lapping Rasputin’s Revenge. The same protective shell is also available in a “tour” configuration without ear padding for additional breathability and versatility.


Head over to Cripple Creek Backcountry in Avon to get kitted by our local ski touring pros — they’re psyched to help you out.


Featured image by Roo Smith.