Monday, February 13, 2012

Crested Butte

Bryan and Bryce at the top of the Silver Queen chairlift, with Mt. Crested Butte in the background
Last weekend, I took a ski trip with friends Bryce and Brian to Crested Butte and Telluride. I can't remember the last time I went on a "stag" ski trip, but I was eager to go on this one because I would get to ski at Crested Butte for the first time.

Bryce had stayed once before at a remote lodge called The Inn at Arrowhead, located near Cimarron, Colorado and more or less centrally located for both ski resorts, so I booked it for both Friday and Saturday nights. It turned out that we were the only guests for the weekend, except for groups of snowmobilers who stopped for breakfast and lunch at the Inn's excellent restaurant, but host James was most welcoming. He even kept the bar open past its ten o'clock closing time for us.

Colorado is having a mild winter. Whole sections of Crested Butte were closed due to lack of snow, and the snow they did have reminded me of the "Hometown Ice" I grew up skiing back in Wisconsin. It was slick and fast, and it never really softened up, even though it was a bright sunny day, because the temperature refused to rise out of the twenties. Bryce had skied at Crested Butte before, so he directed us to some good intermediate terrain to start with and then we spent the rest of the day exploring, taking a ride on each open chairlift at least once.

After skiing, we headed into town for appetizers and drinks at the legendary Wooden Nickel. We were the only customers when we arrived, which we blamed on the relatively poor ski conditions. The ski mountain hadn't been very crowded either; we never waited more than a minute or two in any lift lines, and most of the people in line were local season-pass holders.

Back at the Inn, we ate steak dinners and then watched "Hot Tub Time Machine" on Bryce's portable DVD player. It's kind of a ski movie, or at least it has some skiing scenes, but mostly it's a crazy comedy (K-Val!). By the time it was over, it was past time for bed.

We stopped by my friend Kevin's house in Montrose the next morning to pick him up on our way to ski Telluride. The ski conditions there were no better than at Crested Butte, and it was a gray, cloudy day, so the visibility wasn't very good either. The only highlight was skiing a run in Revelation Bowl, but it is above treeline so there was nothing to give relief against the snow in the flat light. It was purely "ski by feel."

At last count, there are twenty-six ski resorts in Colorado. Counting Crested Butte, I have skied at sixteen of them. After being locked into skiing in the Aspen area for twenty years with a ski pass commitment, it is liberating to try new ski resorts. I have made it a casual goal to try to ski every one in the state eventually. Liking climbing the 14ers, it's a great way to see our great state.

1 comment:

Erica Reiter said...

John, Come check CB out after a good snow storm. I'm sure you will be pleased! This winter has not blessed Colorado with an abundance of snow, like last year, but we did just get 9 inches in the last 24 hours... Better than nothing:) - Erica