Crested Butte Mountain Resort
PO Box A, 500 Gothic Road
Mount Crested Butte
Telephone: (970) 3492222
One of the few US resorts with a reputation for expert standard descents including the steepest lift-served off-piste terrain in the US. Crested Butte is a wonderful and truly unspoilt Colorado mountain town. Annually hosts the US Extreme Ski & Snowboarding Championships. Crested Butte also hosted the 1998 and 1999 ESPN Winter X Games. It also boasts the the US’s largest powdercat fleet nearby.
One of the world’s classic ski resorts, Crested Butte has managed to maintain a long history and a genuine feeling of community combined with some of the world’s best skiing, served by a state-of-the-art lift system. Few visitors to the place, be they veterans of dozens, even hundreds of ski centres around the world, will fail to be struck by the feeling that here they’ve found somewhere unique – as at Chamonix, Zermatt or Wengen.
Located at the head of a valley (rather than along the side of a big dual-carriageway road running across the state as many other Colorado resorts seem to be), it is a world away from, well, most of the rest of the world! The surrounding scenery of spectacular mountain peaks and the peaceful location add to Crested Butte’s magic.
The resort has hit the skiing headlines in the ’90s thanks to its wonderful ‘Extreme Limits’ ski terrain. This is an excellent idea whereby a large chunk (550 acres) of ‘fairly extreme’ to ‘very extreme’ off-piste terrain is set aside for the enjoyment of all skiers competent enough to ride the button tow lift that accesses it. But, unlike most off-piste experiences, there is, eventually, a fence to stop you venturing in to areas of certain death and also patrollers making sweeps of the area. The result is a very successful compromise between the dangers of venturing off-piste in unpatrolled areas and the normal restrictions of staying on the piste.
Fortunately Crested Butte’s ‘special status’ doesn’t end on the mountain. Although the accommodation, shops and restaurant complex at the bottom of the slopes are your run-of-the-mill, comfortable, efficient, everything-you-need-to-hand type US base buildings, the old town of Crested Butte, five minutes drive away, is again a unique attraction. This old mining town, that never quite died between the end of mining and the start of skiing as others did, is Colorado’s largest National Historic District and looks much as it did a century ago. It even has antique lamplight in the evenings to help add to the ambience of the place.
Miners working in the gold mines above the town used to ski back down in the evenings and today the resort’s marketing department is keen to point out that people have skied at Crested Butte longer than they have driven cars, flicked on light switches or even flushed toilets!
You can really feel that love of winter sports in the air as soon as you arrive at the place. The 2001/2002 ski season marks the resort’s 40th anniversary. The Callaway and Walton families have owned the resort for 30 of these years, so the celebrations will have a suitably family orientated bias.
Crested Butte, Irwin Lodge, Colorado, USA, Ski Colorado, Elk, Rocky Mountains, Rockies, Rockys
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