Upper Over The Rainbow:
Over The Rainbow
Over The Rainbow:
Over The Rainbow

Over The Rainbow is a great experts only run at Loveland Basin. "OTR," as locals like to call it, is the eastmost run on the south side of Loveland Basin. I believe that it's not the most eastern run Loveland, however, a title that the woods to the east of Awesome or Face would hold.

OTR runs to the east of Avalanche Bowl in it's higher sections, and Zoom in the lower portion.

Over The Rainbow is accessed by taking the highest possible traverse to the skier's right. Careful on the traverse and the first couple of turns into OTR: These high and wind-exposed areas may have a rock or two sticking out. Do not let that deter you from trying Over The Rainbow, however. It's a really great steep run after you get into it for a turn or two. The snow quality is generally what you would expect from a steep, north-facing run: Edgeable and pleasant.

After the first short, steep section (about 35%) of Over The Rainbow, you can either continue straight downhill on a gently-sloped section to lower OTR (not as steep as upper OTR), or you can go skier's left (west) to Zoom. These are both good choices. There's often some good tree skiing, and powder stashes along the boundary rope skier's right on Over The Rainbow.

Do not, however, under any circumstances, duck under the boundary rope (not that any of you would ever violate the Colorado Skier Safety act under any circumstances) to ski the terrain to the east of Over The Rainbow. These steep chutes are known as The Seven Sisters, and they commonly slide across Loveland Pass, closing the road, without any provocation. Ethan Greene of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center stated that the Seven Sisters are: "most active slide area over a U.S. highway." They are some of the most avalanche prone chutes in Colorado, and putting tracks in them is just asking for trouble. Additionally, they tend to run big and all the way to the road when they go, so Avalanche Breathing Devices, Beacons, etc. might be little help after several hundred feet of tumbling with washing machine size ice chunks.

I suppose that this is as good a time as any, especially if you aren't veteran Colorado backcountry skier, to point out that ducking the rope at Loveland is something you do at your own peril. The wind-loaded, light, cold powder that makes inbounds skiing at Loveland fun can also be perfect avalanche conditions. I've talked to skiers from places like the Pacific Northwest, where the snow tends to fall heavy, wet, warm and sticky and sets up hard quickly - and they often don't really grasp the fragile nature of dry, cold powder slopes. Wet snow slides, generally, just happen when they happen. Ski tracks and the weight of skiers have little to do with starting them. Dryer, colder, and wind-loaded conditions are perfect for a skier to start an avalanche, putting them right in the middle of the action.

Not that any of this is intended to be a complete lesson in avalanche safety. You ski at your risk, and all of the recommendations on this website are uninformed opinions. Seek professional advice and instruction before skiing backcountry under any circumstances.

And, don't let any of this discussion about avalanches out-of-bounds scare you away from skiing Over The Rainbow. The Loveland Ski Patrol monitors the situation inbounds, and skier compaction makes it an entirely different world. All I'm saying is: Don't duck the rope on OTR.

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