My Experience at Burandt’s Backcountry Adventure
Luke Sander | On 13, Apr 2016
What is it like to ride with the face of backcountry sledding? A friend and I had opportunity to ride with Chris at his location in Buena Vista, Colorado. Here is an account of my experience at Burandt’s Backcountry Adventure.
We were told to arrive at Chris’ shop at 9am. His location is roughly 6 miles north of town on a country road. We were concerned we were on the right road until we saw the unmistakable Monster Energy trailer.
After pulling in the driveway, we arrived at Chris’s home/shop where there was instructional signage that directed us where to go. We parked in our designated spot and walked around to the entrance of the shop. It was quite a sight to see all the sleds meticulously lined up and each with it’s own unique characteristics. The shop was completely organized and everything had a place. Inside the shop is a store where you sign waivers and can purchase any apparel or equipment required.
Chris, Ross Robinson and Chase Bunting were getting all of the sleds ready for the different groups that would be going out for the day. Everyone was laid back and in great spirits. Burandt’s Backcountry Adventure (BBA) is a warm and comforting environment. The rest of the riders started to show up and get ready to ride.
Once the equipment was ready and before loading up, Chris called everyone around for the pre-ride talk. He went over some safety points and some basics of riding for those who haven’t had a lot of time on a sled. One thing that was apparent through the entire experience was just how well he can explain things, down to the smallest detail.
Then the BBA staff loaded all the sleds into trailers and we followed them out to the trailhead. After unloading and gearing up, we broke out into groups. There were 6 guys going with Ross and Chase and 3 of us would be with Burandt.
The snow conditions at the trailhead were very deceiving. There appeared to be almost no snow at the trailhead, but just a few miles up the trail we ran into some great snow in the trees.
I wanted to experience this ride with no ego and nothing to prove. I told Chris to critique me and tell me anything he thought I needed to improve on. I felt like it was an opportunity to pick up some tips and tricks from the most well-known backcountry rider out there. I’ve always believed that no matter how good you are, there is always room for improvement.
He took us to some pretty awesome terrain. The snow in the timber was perfect. There was just enough traction so that you could go a lot of places, but it was definitely soft and deep enough to get yourself super stuck. It was awesome to follow Chris through the tight trees on some very steep terrain. He pushes you hard and it was a blast. Everything was a challenge and his fun attitude was infectious. When someone got stuck he was sure to help if they needed it.
We blasted through some gnarly terrain and found some fantastic untouched areas.
Chris was willing to share his tricks and secrets to help us gain that extra edge. He could explain exactly why the tricks worked and how the sled would react with different techniques. I’ve ridden my entire life in the backcountry and I learned a tremendous amount from him. Every level of rider would benefit in many ways from his experience and expertise.
One thing that became very apparent is that Chris is in phenomenal shape. The area that we rode was around 12,000 feet in elevation. Where I ride is around 9,500. I could not believe the difference that those few thousand feet made. I lost energy super fast and it took longer to recover than normal. Drinking LOTS of water is key up there.
After a full day of riding we headed back to the trailhead, loaded up and drove to Chris’ lodge. It’s just a few miles from his house and shop. It is quite a sight driving up to it, sitting at the top of a winding dirt road that looks over the whole valley.
The chef (also named Chris) greeted us and showed us where we were staying. He also pointed us to the hot room, where we hung all of our gear to dry. There were 8 or more boot and glove dryers and plenty of hangers. After getting settled, we went up to the main floor to the kitchen and living room. Our timing was perfect as dinner was just finishing being prepared. A fantastic homemade meal of salad, ribs, potatoes, asparagus, and rolls made the whole place smell delicious. Chris and crew showed up and we all sat down and ate and laughed.
After dinner we looked around the lodge and heard some stories about the history of it. The original owners bought a castle in Europe and brought parts and pieces back to be incorporated into the lodge. It really is a gorgeous place with a lot of history.
The next day after a delicious breakfast of biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs and toast we headed down to the shop.
Chris, Ross and Chase were busy working on sleds and Timbersled snowbikes, getting ready for the day. Chris was going to take out the new Timbersled mounted on Husqvarna 450s. They loaded up and we headed back to the trailhead.
We had a blast trading rides on the Timbersled. It took me a good 10 minutes of being upside down to start to get the hang of the bike. I was amazed with the terrain that I was able to travel with ease, as well as how fun it really was!
Chris pushed and challenged us the second day as well. We played on one mountain all day and worked it from every angle imaginable. Simply following him around while he was on the Timbersled was a feat in and of itself.
One thing is certain when riding with Chris: at some point you will get stacked up in the trees, and you will also get “Burandted” as he calls it.
I would definitely recommend to anyone who wants to be pushed to become a better rider to go ride with Burandt’s Backcountry Adventure. Chris explains things amazingly well and he will push everyone past their comfort level, which in turn forces them to improve. He also has a tremendous amount of great and practical advice about sled setup considering he has tried essentially every possible combination.
In order to get the best out of your trip, here are my recommendations;
- be willing to listen,
- be willing to try new things,
- be in shape
- and most importantly leave your ego at home
If you go with these few things in mind, you will have the trip of a lifetime!
Photo Credits (Josh Wilson, Chris Burandt and Luke Sander)