Winter has finally arrived in Colorado’s last great ski town, and the locals have wasted no time getting after it on the mountain. Here are the highlights so far…
Backcountry skiers skin up Old Monarch Pass road, en route for avalanche burial scenarios, beacon practice, and some fresh lines.
With beautiful terrain surrounding the Gunnison Valley, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to explore it via snowshoes, touring skis, snowmobile, or dog sled (if you’re really adventurous). In addition to having great sights, however, Crested Butte has one of the most unstable snowpacks in the country, leading to an elevated risk of avalanches. So, we started the Winter out on the right foot by brushing up on beacon skills, backcountry travel, and other safe practices on Monarch Pass. There are many more opportunities to learn- if you’re looking for classes check out https://aiare.info/course_list.php or stop into a local ski shop to find out more. And most importantly, invite me- I need a ski touring partner.
Caroline Doyle and Amanda Ravensbergen celebrate after reaching the end of their uphill climb on Crested Butte Mountain Resort.
This may not make sense to the tourist in town for the weekend gazing out their luxury condo window at the mountain early in the morning- don’t those people know there is a lift to the top? Every morning begins a pilgrimage amongst uphillers donning touring skis and usually accompanied by about 4 dogs; all panting and working towards the sweet reward of eventually heading the opposite direction. This is a great way to get outside and stay active in the colder months, and seeing the sunrise from up on the mountain before the crowds is an experience all in itself. Plus, it makes that bagel and coffee from Izzy’s all that better afterwards.
MORE WEIRD CRESTED BUTTE EVENTS
It’s no surprise Crested Butte would host a day devoted to people wearing Santa Claus outfits while they ski and then hitting the bars for après. The 2016 Santa Ski & Pub Crawl was successful, filling the mountain (and bars) with a bunch of goofy people in Santa costumes. This wacky event produced smiles for observers and participants alike, as well as a ton o’ Christmas cheer.
Miranda Holson takes flight under the Teocali lift at Crested Butte Mountain Resort.
THE SKIING IS GOOD
And of course, ski season is just about in full swing. The rocks and stumps are slowly disappearing from off-piste terrain, new runs are opening every week, and more snow is in the forecast. In the few short weeks I’ve been skiing here, I’ve realized how many rippin’ skiers are out there, and how the culture is engrained in just about everyone that calls the valley home. It’s awesome to be a part of such a vibrant, active community that places value on recreating and getting outside. Here’s to a great Winter season ahead.