Cripple Creek Backcountry Opens in Denver


Seriously, a “mountain city” like Denver without a truly specialty backcountry-ski shop? I grew up in town, visiting shops like Mountain Miser, Holubar, and wasn’t there a Forrest shop, way back in the before-times? The last years, though, has been tough in Denver, if you need a truly specialized part (think Dynafit pieces, obscure ski crampon sizes, or god forbid, some Euro-rexic skimo binding), you were calling Golden, Boulder, or surfing online. Not much help if you were boarding a flight for Svalbard the next day!

Fear not, my fellow Coloradans, because one of North America’s most experienced, best-stocked, and best-staffed shops is opening a Denver location: Cripple Creek Country (2807 South Broadway; 970-510-0450;

“We were doing these private appointments at our Vail location, and over half of them were from the Denver area,” says Doug Stenclik, co-owner and founder of Cripple Creek. “People were driving two hours from the Front Range, especially during COVID. It was nuts, so we started looking for Denver space.”

And luckily for Front Rangers, they found it — on South Broadway, near the Gothic Theater, almost all the way to Hampden/Hwy. 285. Coincidentally, it’s the same neighborhood as Mountain Miser’s last home, and is in the former building of Custom Foot.

“We’ll be doing community events, conditions permitting,” says Stenclik. “Ski-tuning tutorials, avalanche talks, the thing we do at our Carbondale, Vail, and Highlands locations.”

Community events and “regular” business will adapt to changing COVID conditions, and in the meantime the Cripple Creek crew encourages phone appointments, in addition to drop-ins.

“Making an appointment guarantees we have the right staff and the right gear for the person, but we do walk-ins for curbside pickup, dropping off shop work,” Stenclik explains.

In addition to a full tech shop doing mounts, bootfitting, and repair, Cripple Creek will carry its deep inventory of backcountry ski-specific brands like Dynafit, The North Face, SCARPA, Jones, Weston, BCA, Ortovox, Tecnica, Blizzard, Mammut and others.

The shop opens this week and Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., they’ll host a public ski/board swap.

“It’s like a curated, backcountry swap. We’re vetting all the gear, too. We’ll be on hand for questions and assistance, just to make sure the gear is compatible with peoples’ needs,” Stenclik says.

I’ve visited the Cripple Creek Carbondale and Highlands locations, especially when I’m cruxing for a critical piece of gear. The Denver shop is more than twice the size of their Carbo location, which is already a world-class shop. Get by the Denver location and let me know how it looks. Grab and beer and/or coffee, too, and let me know if they’re pulling good shots!

Rob Coppolillo grew up climbing and skiing in Denver and Boulder, before moving to Chamonix, France, in August of 2019. He is a mountain guide and a writer, and the author of The Ski Guide Manual (Falcon, $32.95).

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