Grand County outfitter takes skiers to ‘powder safe’ hideouts

The Adventure Project takes skiers, like the one above, to powder reserves in exotic locations, like Uzbekistan, also above.
Matt Appleford/Courtesy Photo

Matt Appleford stops and turns to gaze at the powder-choked trail he’s just skied. He sees one of his clients arrive and disappear under a wave of cold smoke powder, and smiles as he hears her scream with joy. Appleford and her clients are traveling with Adventure Project, and they’re away from Grand County, where Appleford’s ski outfitter is based.

They could be anywhere from the sky-scraping peaks of the Chilean Andes to the birch-covered Japanese Alps. But one thing Appleford and the Adventure Project say is that no matter where they are, there will be powder snow. And a lot.

“We’re focused on sending people overseas on these really fun adventures to more low-key places where we can find really good snow and, just as importantly, immerse (guests) in the local culture,” said Appleford.

Appleford founded Adventure Project in 2010, inspired by his overwhelming love of skiing.

The Adventure Project takes skiers, like the one above, to “powder-free” places like Uzbekistan, also above. | Matt Appleford/Courtesy Photo
Matt Appleford/Courtesy Photo

Born in the UK, he grew up skiing in the Cairngorm mountain range in Scotland and on dry slopes in England. In the late 90s he was able to ski in the European Alps and marveled at their massive vertical relief, soft snow and sprawling terrain. After graduating from university in Australia, he worked for nine winters as a ski instructor at resorts in Australia, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Vermont and Colorado.

“Scotland is the true home of blue ice, which made me really appreciate these amazing places with lots of untouched powder,” he said.

Through his work as a ski instructor, Appleford fell in love with off-piste skiing or ventured beyond the groomed slopes and chairlifts of a ski resort in search of unique terrain and a deep snow. He is now looking to take his clients beyond the conventional ski resort with powder and adventure.

“I had started a business in Australia, which was part of an adventure travel business,” Appleford explained. “When I left Australia, I thought I might launch this in the US market.”

Appleford moved to Granby in April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He planned to found the Adventure Project in Grand, but like so many other ventures, his business fell on hard times. With international borders locked and more people out of work, Appleford’s mission to bring adventurous skiers to distant mountain ranges has crumbled.

“I’m not going to lie. It was a tough time,” Appleford said. “Constantly monitoring the global situation with COVID, trying to see when countries would reopen, was stressful.”

Once countries started to reopen their borders, he was finally able to start his travels again.

“I had to get creative because a lot of our destinations were still closed,” Appleford said. “Finally I was able to start running, which took the load off, both physically and mentally.”

As countries continue to ease their pandemic restrictions, Appleford plans to take customers to amazing destinations. Last winter, Project Adventure began organizing trips to Uzbekistan and China, in addition to Japan, Macedonia, Chile, Georgia and India.

“My goal is to keep exploring these new places,” Appleford said. “There are so many cool, low-key places where you can find good snow.”

About George Dailey

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