Crested Butte Ski Getaways

ski getaways

Crested Butte has become so associated with the "extreme" scene in the past decade that would-be visitors might not be aware of the mountain's excellent intermediate terrain. The word itself conjures up images of a hard-charging atmosphere in which people play hard and party hard. Well, that may be true at times, but Crested Butte-the mountain and the town-have a gentler side. The laid-back locals might like wild untamed terrain but the town they live in is authentically Western and about as far removed from frenetic urbanism as one can get.

The resort is a little harder to reach than those along the I-70 corridor But it's just over 30 miles from the Gunnison/Crested Butte Airport, which now has winter jet service, and by no means isolated.

The mountain rises dramatically from the surrounding plain, lending credence to the extreme moniker. But a peek at the trail map tells a different story. About 45 percent of the terrain is rated green or blue. The Gold Link and the new East River high-speed quad serve predominantly intermediate terrain-some ten trails in all-and there are even longer cruisers of the Paradise Express quad. All told there are 340 acres of intermediate terrain.

Beginners have a number of good, long runs to enjoy, but may find the green circle stuff a bit steep. In other words, never-evers should take lessons and stick to the Peachtree lift. The majority of beginner terrain is accessible from the Keystone Express quad, with Houston probably the easiest green after the learning terrain. If you're unsure, take one of the mountain's free tours, available at all ability levels.

Single black diamond terrain is concentrated off the Silver Queen lift, where the runs are long and often bumped-up. But the best skiers and riders head to the double diamond bowls and glades. Get there by turning right off the Silver Queen lift (for one area) or turn left and drop down a bit to the High Lift to access a second area. The greatest expanse of truly difficult terrain requires riding the North Face lift, from where you can drop or traverse into areas that, while named, have myriad lines. All these steep lines require a good amount of natural snow to provide decent cover, and so are better later in the season.

A 400-foot long, 17-foot deep, half pipe with 85-degree walls and the DC terrain park can be found off the Paradise Express lift. There is also the Keystone jib park and the Painter Boy terrain park as well as various jumps, rails and bonks in locations all over the mountain