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Crested Butte and tour of its Extreme Limits terrain

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
[NOTE: Apparently I am not as great of a multi-tasker as I think I am. I meant to start this new thread yesterday and instead plopped it into the middle of the "Perception vs. Reality for Advanced Skiers." I'm sure folks must wonder why the heck it's posted there. : ]

I just want to share an observation my husband and I had while we were at Crested Butte two weeks ago. Many of you know I am a ski writer, so when I visit a resort, I am provided a guide for the first day or two so I can 1) get familiar with the mountain and 2) ask lots of questions for the article I'll be writing.

Crested Butte has a great program for advanced/expert skiers. For a very affordable $30, you can get a tour of the Extreme Limits terrain. Since people unfamiliar with the terrain could easily cliff out in places, it makes sense to have someone show you around. (Obviously, people who don't mind hucking cliffs won't care about this, but most of us are mere mortals and don't like those kind of surprises. )

I have not heard of other resorts that have such an affordable guiding service, that's why I am pointing it out to others.

In response to some questions I had, our guide took us to the spot off the Paradise lift where they do the "ski off" to see if clients are capable of skiing the Extreme Limits terrain. The terrain (Horseshoe, rated a single-diamond) isn't very steep, but it's somewhat exposed and the snow can be technical. He told us it was surprising how many people sign up for the tour who cannot ski Horseshoe. Shortly after, we watched as a tour group went into Horseshoe for the ski off. There were eight people. At least three of them couldn't link more than two or three turns on the terrain. One of them couldn't even make more than one turn before having to stop because he was in the back seat (he did this all the way down). : We saw two who were very proficient and two who were certainly capable though a bit more cautious. Needless to say, that group went from eight people to four.

When we were skiing the Extreme Limits terrain, I couldn't help but think, "I can't IMAGINE being back here if I couldn't ski proficiently." We came across some hairy stuff and you really had to be on your game...yes, we even resorted to "survival skills" a few times. : (Why is it my husband has a picture of me standing on top of a huge boulder, but not when I launched off it and executed one of my most perfect turns ever to avoid another boulder? : )

An aside: We watched the Extreme Freeskiing Championships and the entire time I kept thinking, "I guess I don't ski as well as I think I do." We also saw some adaptive instructors rigging up a line to haul some adaptive skiers up to Spellbound Bowl. They said it was the first time they'd brought adaptive skiers up there, but they had a group that really wanted to go (from Killington, by the way). The entrance into Spellbound was sorely in need of snow and you had to sidestop down a rocky chute to get in. We never saw the adaptive skiers since they weren't up there yet, but had the pleasure of sharing a hot tub with them later that evening. They said it was awesome, but intimidating in some parts, such as being lowered down that rocky chute. : I would have loved to see them coming down Spellbound, it must have been quite the sight. We did see them skiing on other parts of the mountain during our visit and these guys were awesome! Reminds me that making turns down a mountain is exhilarating and certainly gives you a sense of freedom.

Thatsagirl
post #2 of 9
Thatsagirl,

I was at CB many moons ago, also on a work assignment, skiing with a couple of local boys who ran into a female extreme skier they knew who had recently taken 3rd in a major competition. I followed her on a traverse to some fairly hairy terrain... She was gone in like 3 seconds flat. No way I was ever going to keep up - or even try.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
The extreme/competition freeskiers are on a whole 'nother level, aren't they? Beyond impressive.

This year, many of the competitors in the junior category (14-17) were so good, the organizers were joking about bagging the "older folks" category and just letting the teens show everyone how it's done! On the other hand, the guy who won the masters division is a patroller, and after he finished, my husband and I both said, "That's who I want to come rescue me if I'm ever in a hairy spot!" :

CB is one of those mountains where you can tell who the locals are. The terrain there is off the charts in many places. In fact, I skied some of the toughest terrain I've ever tried but I felt "on my game" and ready for it. The snow was right, the stars were aligned, and so forth. Great feeling!

Thatsagirl
post #4 of 9
I forgot to mention that it snowed for about a week straight when I was there. 70+ inches! A slide actually came down off the mountain, and into a condo's bedroom in the middle of the night. I saw the pics the next day and the master bedroom was buried up to the level of the bed. Great skiing - bottomless and a legitimate extra day due cancelled flights home. That was one to remember.
post #5 of 9

video of adaptive skiers

Check out this link for one video of the adaptive skiers coming down the Exteme Limits area. Archive.org has others as well.

http://www.archive.org/details/DaveW...eExtremeLimits
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank
I forgot to mention that it snowed for about a week straight when I was there. 70+ inches! A slide actually came down off the mountain, and into a condo's bedroom in the middle of the night. I saw the pics the next day and the master bedroom was buried up to the level of the bed. Great skiing - bottomless and a legitimate extra day due cancelled flights home. That was one to remember.
That must have been sweet skiing! But pretty freaky for the folks in the condo. :

We didn't get any new snow while we were there. But we had classic spring conditions (in Feb.) with temps in 30s (felt like 50s), bluebird skies, soft snow. Cannot complain at all. Even got a nice suntan.

It snowed about 4 inches the day before we got there, and then it snowed again the day we left. Figures, right?

I'll bet that mountain skis entirely differently with powder! By the end of the week, even though the mountain had good coverage, things were getting sketchy and the new snow was needed to fill in some areas, especially entrances into some of the steeper terrain. We'd brought our fat skis, but switched to demoing some midfats because they were much more appropriate for the conditions. Whenever we skied or sidestepped over rocks, we thought, "Thank goodness these aren't our skis."

Thatsagirl
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpdad
Check out this link for one video of the adaptive skiers coming down the Exteme Limits area. Archive.org has others as well.

http://www.archive.org/details/DaveW...eExtremeLimits
Wow, awesome! Thanks for sharing this link. Honestly, it brought tears to my eyes watching them skiing. A whole new meaning to the words "adventurous spirit."

Thatsagirl
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpdad
Check out this link for one video of the adaptive skiers coming down the Exteme Limits area. Archive.org has others as well.

http://www.archive.org/details/DaveW...eExtremeLimits
Wow! Well, I've seen adaptive skiers at W-B enough to know they can pretty much do anything they want, but that is impressive to see.

Has Warren Miller ever put any of these guys in his films? If kayaks and bicycles cart-wheeling down Blackcomb make it in, why not these guys doing it right?
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
I don't think it was a Warren Miller movie, but I remember seeing a ski flick that has an adaptive skier ripping up the slopes and then in the summer, doing some gnarly whitewater kayaking. No idea what movie it was. Could have been an Eric Perlman Production? Definitely from the early- to mid-90s.

Thatsagirl
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