Friday, August 7, 2015

Crested Butte, Colorado

Best For: Families hoping to raise the next freeskiing world champion

Executive summary by darmansjah

Like its Colorado siblings Aspen and Telluride, Crested Butte is a remote, high-elevation former mining town of historic buildings surrounded by spectacular scenery. Crested Butte, though, has a different, more counterculture character than its glossy counterparts—it’s funkier, saltier, more altimeter watch than Rolex. There are restaurants in back-alley log cabins and buildings sided with old license plates, and the free shuttle buses to the ski area are wildly painted by local artists. There are currently no chain stores, and with a population of only 1,487, shopping options may be limited. But that’s the point. You don’t come here to shop or be seen, you come here to ski and to revel in the surrounding Elk Mountains and one of the most eclectic, adventurous playgrounds in the Rockies.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort is three miles up the road, and the base village, part of the town of Mt. Crested Butte, offers conveniently located hotels and condo blocks. There are plenty of dedicated beginner and kid-friendly terrain on the lower mountain, as well as a reasonable collection of blue groomers mid-mountain, but it’s the expert skiing and hiking terrain on the North Face, Teocalli Bowl, and around the peak of Crested Butte mountain itself that give the mountain its cult-like following. Crested Butte pioneered adventure skiing, or running lifts specifically for access to ungroomed, advanced terrain, and the steep, cliff- and couloir-riddled, in-bounds terrain it serves up is as hairy as any in the country. There’s a reason countless extreme skiing and snowboarding competitions have been held here. The ski school also offers powder and steep skiing instruction for intermediates looking to become experts.

Ask a Local 

One of the original female extreme skiers, Wendy Fisher is a former Olympian, seven-year member of the U.S. Ski Team, and two-time World Extreme Skiing champion. A resident of Crested Butte since 1996, she’s currently a ski ambassador for Crested Butte Mountain Resort, where she teaches ski clinics and private lessons. Here are her recommendations.

Best Digs
Budget: Crested Butte International Lodge & Hostel
Swank: The Lodge at Mountaineer Square

Best Eats
Cheap: Teocalli Tamale
Gourmet: Soupçon Bistro

Best After-Ski Party Spot
On the mountain it would be Avalanche Bar & Grill; in town, it’s Talk of the Town

Best Rest-Day Activity
Take a dogsledding tour with Lucky Cat Dog Farm, or learn to drive a Snowcat on a closed course at the resort.

Crested Butte’s Classic Ski Run
“For ungroomed runs I would consider Spellbound to Phoenix off the North Face lift,” says Fisher. “For groomed trails, hands down it’s International.”

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