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Crested Butte - Ski Resort and Snow Summary
Skiing in Crested Butte
Crested Butte - American Ski Resort (2770m to 3620m)
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.
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Crested Butte Ski Facts
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The American ski resort of Crested Butte has direct access to 85 individual pistes, served by 15 ski lifts.
The ski resort itself is above 1500m, so skiing or boarding back to the resort is usually possible. With pistes above 2500 metres, skiing and snowboarding is assured throughout the season.
Snowmaking :- Crested Butte is able to augment natural snow, with 40 Snow Cannons.
Ski Lift Capacity :- The 15 Ski Lifts of Crested Butte are able to uplift 17,500 skiers / snowboarders per hour.
There are two Airports within two hours drive, so ski weekends, snowboard breaks and short ski holidays to Crested Butte are perfectly feasible. Gunnison-Crested Butte Airport is just one hours drive away, in good driving conditions, so you can be on the piste quickly.
Skiing in Crested Butte
There is a popular misconception that, because Crested Butte has some of the toughest terrain anywhere, it only suits expert skiers. Some reviewers have been a little more accurate, claiming it's a choice of beginner or expert terrain with nothing in between. The reality is that Crested Butte has a very well designed mix of terrain for all standards, including miles of intermediate level piste and lots of steep marked pistes for advanced and expert skiers, include some spectacular bumps runs. Of course the 550 acres of 'back country style' Extreme Limits terrain is a unique asset, and one of the resort's few short lift lines can develop as the best skiers queue patiently to ride the surface tow up to the access point. The resort particularly decided to use this type of lift to prevent overcrowding and accidental access of Extreme Limits, and to dissuade skiers not confident enough to ride the lift in a country where chairs are the norm.
More advanced intermediates can tackle the easiest sections of the Extreme Limits terrain, although they're best to go in with someone who knows it in order to make sure they stick to sections within their ability level. Otherwise there are miles of varied trail terrain to suit the most avid piste basher. Skiers of all standards above intermediate may also consider taking a snowcat over to Irwin Lodge, the legendary powder skiing centre located 12 miles from Crested Butte and has North America's, and probably the world's, largest powder cat fleet. Here skiers have more than 2400 acres and over 700 vertical metres (2000 feet) of vertical off-piste powder terrain to delight in.
Back on the pistes of Crested Butte beginners have the big area above the resort base to enjoy - a vast terrain of wide, tree-lined slopes with gentle gradients. The Keystone trail is especially well suited to them. The ski school offers a 'Beginners Shortcut' course which includes a 3hr lesson with a lift ticket and specially designed Elan skis. The inclusive price is low and successfully learning the basics is guaranteed. If you don't reach an agreed standard you can either keep taking lessons for free until you do or get a full refund.
Of course there are numerous other tuition programs for existing skiers, included those led by Kim Reichhelm, who has held pretty well every extreme skiing title available, starred in ski movies and so on. She hosts women's ski adventures (for all ability levels) whilst race camps, extreme skiing clinics and 'adventures on the edge' - such as ski mountaineering - are all available.
Snowboarding in Crested Butte
As with skiing, Crested Butte has a reputation for the extreme with numerous Extreme Snowboarding national and international contest staged here, the Extreme Limits terrain open to 'boarders as much as skiers.
Beginners will enjoy the easy terrain around the base with long fast Keystone chairlift access and lots of little terrain features to gain confidence on.
The fun-park has been improved gradually and now includes 3 rails and 3 jumps, in addition to a well groomed half-pipe. There are several good 'boarder stores at the base and downtown.
Crested Butte Aprés Ski
The normal North American mixture of hotel bars and restaurants and lively bar-restaurants are to be found in Crested Butte. Again many have a more genuine and relaxed feel to them than at the more 'mainstream' Colorado destinations. There is a small local brewery, that serves a good selection of its own beers and good food - the Idle Spur.
Kochevar's is usually lots of fun - a wild west saloon where Butch Cassidy left a gun whilst he and The Sundance Kid were being chased. There's also nightlife on offer at the Eido and Talk Of The Town. Ski area apres ski is available at The Rafters, located, conveniently, at the Base Area.
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