Crested Butte Mountain Resort : A Patroller’s Paradise

on January 27 | in Crested Butte, Insider Secrets, Safety | by | with Comments Off on Crested Butte Mountain Resort : A Patroller’s Paradise

CrestedButte_TS_corduroy_0110An Interview with John Hickey, Crested Butte Ski/Bike Patrol

“IN CRESTED BUTTE, BEING A PATROLLER IS WHO YOU ARE. YOU KNOW THE MOUNTAIN,  YOU’RE A LOCAL, YOU’RE WELL INFORMED, YOU KNOW EVERYONE, AND YOU KNOW THE BACKCOUNTRY.”

I’ve been skiing my whole life. I came to Crested Butte after school, have lived in town for two decades, and been part of ski patrol for 17 years.

We don’t have big lift lines, because the mountain is set up in a way that lines don’t form here. We have so much open terrain – our pitches are practically vertical and there are lots of cliffs. I’d say the biggest cliff inbounds is about 120 feet, and Rambo, our steepest cut run, is one of the steepest in North America; it’s about a 55 degree pitch.

We’ve hosted US Extreme competitions since 1991. The top extreme skiers in the country and the world gather here. I’ve had the opportunity to ski with many of them, which is one of the most incredible opportunities I’m afforded. Crested Butte has always been a place where the competitors have to prove themselves.

When the right snow has fallen, we open up the Bermuda Triangle and Hourglass. They’ve only been open three times for the finals of the extreme competition, but every one of the athletes who has skied it says it’s some of the best terrain they’ve ever skied. It’s steep, littered with rocks and cliffs, and a definite no-fall zone.

We try to groom all of the green and blue runs every night, and the flagship runs especially are groomed each night. We believe in introducing every skier to more difficult terrain than they anticipated, teaching beginners in a safe manner allowing them to enjoy the terrain without getting in over their head.

“WE JUST HAVE A HUGE VARIETY OF TERRAIN HERE AT CRESTED BUTTE: BOWLS, TREES, CLIFFS, GULLIES, AND A LOT OF IT IS NORTHFACING, MAKING THE SNOW BETTER FOR LONGER.”

Expanded beginner and intermediate terrain of Painter Boy, Gold Link and Prospector, plus the junior terrain park, are fun for the whole family. We have a new kids trail with “hippo humps” and make a significant effort to groom each beginner/intermediate run perfectly every night. From a ski patrol perspective, we check each run in the morning to make sure they are clearly marked, free of hazards and that there’s an easy way to get down.

The guest service and beauty make Crested Butte stand out. Visitors to the resort experience these duel aspects and fit in seamlessly. Crested Butte is an old mining town melded with some of the most advanced skiing in Colorado, and when you combine the two, it’s a great time. Even without the extreme skiing, folks can just enjoy the town and be a part of this closeknit community. Everyone knows everyone, and they welcome the people who visit.

The base area is unique and is a complement to the mountain and the historic town. The Muellers have put in Mountaineer Square with plenty of family activities available year-round including new restaurants and cool, fun hangouts that give guests all the more reason to stay in Mt. Crested Butte during their vacation.

“CRESTED BUTTE IS A RESORT, BUT IT’S NOT RESORTISH; IT’S HOMEY, HAS A COMFORTABLE FEEL, AND IS FRIENDLY WITHOUT TRYING.”

We have a lot of characters here in Crested Butte. One is a bus driver, Tuck, and he drives a bus in the winter. He is personable, always willing to tell you a story, and in the summer he’s part of the East River Free Trappers. These guys get dressed-up as frontiersman trappers, participate in the parade, and shoot muskets off, all while wearing their buckskins and leathers. Individuals like Tuck make up the colorful personality that is Crested Butte.

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