Crested Butte Boarding
The whole point of going to Crested Butte is to freeride, and the best place for an adrenaline fix is the North Face, where the U.S. ski and board extremes are held. As you enter the area from the North Face Poma, the sign reads: "This terrain is the steepest lift-served terrain in North America." Immediately below the poma are the heavily wooded glades of Powder Rock and Pinball. The North Face has some huge, stepped-cliff jumps, which suit skiers as they can arrest on the snow pillows halfway down the rocks. Boarders have to go really big and take their chances on a soft landing at the bottom. The open front face can suffer from mogul invasions but there are rad steep chutes in the trees at the top.
Follow the hiking tracks from the top of the poma and you get to three sweet powder bowls: Spellbound, Phoenix, and Third. The one thing that can jolt you out of this freeride mirage is the lifts; it's a tedious traverse and three lift ride back up. Banana Funnel glitters temptingly on a clear day. The lower slopes and glades can be accessed from the Silver Queen Quad via a traverse to skier's left. If you want to go higher, the peak is occasionally opened to unguided Boarding between 10:00am and 2:00pm. The base is rocky so it's only worth it when the snow is abundant.
Crested Butte's new Terrain Park opened on January 11, 2001. Besides the best half-pipe they have ever had (the CBMR halfpipe meets all USSA competitive and training specifications), the Terrain Park offers three great tabletops, excellent landings, and huge air. Located just off the Teocalli Lift, this year's park promises a ton of fun for skiers and snowboarders alike.
The slicing section of the mountain is between the Silver Queen Quad and the Paradise Lift. Runs are fast and rolling; it's a great place to get an impromptu Chinese Downhill happening. The mountain doesn't groom every run daily, so small moguls crop up, but generally the standard of grooming is high. Rub Road onto International is a speed festival back to base.
The Nitty Gritty
Summit: 12,162 ft.
Vertical drop: 3,062 ft.
Base: 9,100 ft.
Annual average: 298 inches
Snowmaking: 20 percent
Total Area: 1,160 acres
Advanced: 58 percent
Intermediate: 29 percent
Beginner: 13 percent
Length of season: mid-November—mid-April
Number of lifts: 2 high-speed quads, 7 chairlifts, 4 surface tows
Hazards and Rules: The hike to Third Bowl closes at 2.30pm. If you go in after this time, your pass will be yanked.
School: Contact Crested Butte Snowboard School at 970-349-9828 for rates and programs.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication