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Crested Butte - death of a ski mountain - Page 2

post #31 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle crud
++++++++++++

ISTF4U, lay off the flattery. I'm not hiring.
Seeing how it's nearly 65 degrees here today, I figured it was worth a shot!
post #32 of 51
Bob,

I was under the impression that CB was grooming trails that had never previously been groomed. I was also under the impression (all from the original poster) that they were grooming nearly everything immediately after new snowfalls. If this is not the case, then I have no problem with what they're doing.

Although it's true that I work for the Mueller's, and it's also true that I have a great distrust of SKI Magazine, there was an article on CB in that publication recently that seemed to dispel much of what this thread is discussing. Apparently the first thing the new ownership did was upgrade the aging poma lift that runs to some of the best expert terrain. They also have opened nearly 300 acres of new expert terrain (although I would imagine this area was hike-to previously).
post #33 of 51
CB can't be Silverton. It's already built and has a cash flow requirement far beyond Silverton's.

Breck brags that they groom all blues and greens every day. CB seems not to do that much. That makes CB wrong, foolish, or bad?

Frankly, CB often has a difficult time getting good snow. As a result, having Okemo-style grooming for the parts of the mountain frequented by the vast majority of their destination skiers is going to be a Godsend. Those skiers will be able to trust that their skiing will be fun even if it hasn't snowed in a while.

I actually prefer well-groomed blue and green to the typical Colorado hardpack this time of year. And ice bumps in the trees aren't exactly my cup-o-tea, either.

It's all good. It's all skiing. And if you want the Silverton experience, the cool thing is that you can get it, too! And not that far from CB.
post #34 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by songfta
Interesting discussion here, folks.

And I really like Bob Peters' contribution about targeting a monied demographic. And since a lot of revenue at so-called "destination resorts" comes from the coasts, it's vital to look at the "average" skier these places target. In the case of CB and its sister resort, Okemo, they are looking at families with both a decent amount of disposable income and not necessarily the "power skier" types. In other words, they're looking for the folks who want the frills: the impeccable grooming, the higher-quality food in the base lodge, the paved parking lot with a shuttle to the lodge, etc. It's worked incredibly well for them at Okemo, so why not at the Butte?

And it reminded me of a trip report posted on DCSki.com by a more-or-less typical target skier, per CB's new management: a middle-aged person who skis with his family and wants to be able to share his day of skiing.

This person went on a trip to The Canyons and was largely impressed with the place, save for one thing: he was somwhat turned off by the dearth of groomed black diamond runs. Note that elsewhere in his review he remarks that most double-blue runs at The Canyons are the equivalent in steepness and challenge to Mid-Atlantic double-blacks, but he still laments that, on the wider blacks, ASC doesn't groom half of the trail.
a few thoughts...

1) the DCSki person was bragging and trying to impress people, not trying to speak the truth.

2) if a ski area "follows the money" that raises all kinds of problems. first, what about when the fad nature of skiing dies off. it will, you know. it always has, it always will. leaving us serious lovers of skiing with what, exactly? overpriced lift tickets. which leads to what, exactly? more reduction in skier numbers per day. which leads to what, exactly? more ski area closures and/or wholesale sea-changes to "multi-season resort" nonsense.

3) doesn't the USA already have enough "disposable income, want all the frills" entertainment masquerading as sport?

4) if nobody is around to criticize the drift toward hollowness and shallowness, the drift will be complete when all ski areas resemble Disneyland and all slopes and runs are identical from hill to hill. think I'm kidding? check the track records of humanity, folks. when concerned people don't speak up, bad stuff happens. and grooming is ARTIFICIAL, folks!
post #35 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinn
CB is in a tough situation. At the heart of the problem is that it's a destination resort. It competes in an absolutely brutal market against the likes of Aspen, Steamboat, and Telluride. Even worse, it can't draw much from the major metropolitan area because the front range resorts have made skiing so cheap and accessible. It has to "import" and compete against JH, Utah, and Taos.

So... what do you do?

Option #1 is to operate as a ski area with no "resort" component. Well, that idea is practically dead on arrival. No one is going to stay in Gunnison and commute up there. I doubt any hotel, or at least one substantial enough, would open in the town of CB. It would be extremely difficult to make that kind of operation sustainable, let alone profitable. It's possible to go that route though - sell off all resort property at the base area to private owners/homeowner associations.
why does it have to take the "successful business operation" (read, Real Estate Tycoon Wannabe) approach? what a narrow perspective!
post #36 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle crud
why does it have to take the "successful business operation" (read, Real Estate Tycoon Wannabe) approach? what a narrow perspective!
If it's not a successful business operation then it means it's not successful - and I assume by "successful" you mean profitable. (I didn't directly tie the two together in my original post since it ain't my definition of success either.) So profitable vs. unprofitable: it's a binary choice. You know, I'd love it if Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, or Paul Allen would step in and run it at a loss. I'd also love it if every day the sun was shining, there was 18" of fresh powder, and unicorns played merrily in the fields. Sometimes reality just sucks.

There are ways to do this without the Real Estate Tycoon approach and that's exactly what the owners are doing.

Ever skied that crap they're grooming? B-o-r-i-n-g. I can drive down the street and get the same happy meal at Keystone. While it might come in both the groomed and ungroomed flavors, it still tastes like crap.
post #37 of 51
Hmmm, I'll be at CB in a few weeks and it is only because of the groomers that I get to ski the extreme limits. My wife cannot ski the steeps/glades/off piste and I wouldn't be able to either if she didn't have some "steep" groomers and easy blacks/hard blues to ski. I can stick my child in ski school anywhere - she justs needs a magic carpet, but I need more and my wife needs something in-between. I like the half groomed trails because I can have fun skiing with my wife. I will ski some days with her and others off piste. I haven't been there before so don't know how their grooming (over grooming) compares to what came before. Without the groomers I would be at Steamboat, Keystone/Vail/Beaver Creek or Copper. However, if A-Basin grooms Pali - then the end of the world is near.
post #38 of 51
I actually have skied slopes with 6-8 inches of powder that I wish had been groomed. This was because someone had driven a cat up the slope before the storm. The problem was when you would ski over where the cat tracks were you would accelerate, then slow when you left their tracks. On a somewhat steep slope this really tired my legs. I saw alot of people go down. Anywhere they drive a cat I would hope they would groom behind it. (1)The only exception is up on top of Breck where they need to keep the snow from getting blown away.

edit: (1)as Breckview had mentioned in a previous thread.
post #39 of 51
As a former Eastern skier this "groom everything, groom often" policy seems ridiculously Eastern.

Maybe it is all based on some business model that has determined that "all gapers, all the time" yields maximum profit...but maybe it's just the default colonial response of the Easterner.

I have to admit that it took a while for me to "get it" after moving West. I still keep an eye for ruts and ice, but I really am learning to trust the snow.
Maybe these new owners need to be taken skiing by some Westerners.

On the other hand, wouldn't it be great if all the gapers flocked to just a few resorts? Maybe we could start a campaign to convince them that the best skiing is in Eastern North America.
post #40 of 51
Hey they got to go somewhere.
Just make first chair on those days where it snows 1ft+ after they groom
Even 6" is fun on a groomed run.

Sucks to be you
Condolences. So how far to that little resort that noone knows about with all the secret stashes?
post #41 of 51
I liked the way Whistler/BC handled new snow. One of my vacationes there, it snowed every day, between 8"-18". They would run two groomers and create groomed areas, 2 groomers wide, down the indicated trails. But the area is generally wide enough that there was a lot left ungroomed. So my wife would get soft groomed, and I'd ski 20 feet off the side of the trail in the un-groomed powder. It made a lot of sense and seemed to work for most abilities.

Personally, I'm not sure why a ski area would leave any green/beginner sloped ungroomed. People at that level aren't ready for ungroomed, and the pitch is too shallow to not groom it. As for the blues, I agree that there needs to be some (maybe 50%?) ungroomed. Whether that means 50% of the trails don't see a groomer or each trail gets groomed half way across, probably isn't a big deal, although I would think the best philosophy would be a combination of the two, so that you have some blues that are groomed edge to edge for carving at speed, and some that are half groomed, and some that are ungroomed. I also think there needs to be a few black groomers, even on pow days. There are a lot of people that can ski and enjoy steep slopes as long as the snow isn't above sidewall height. And I'd rather have those people stay on the groomed trails and off the ungroomed ones so that they don't hack up the powder for the rest of us while they get all PO'd that the trail isn't groomed.

Personally, I love crud and powder on any pitch, as long as it's steep enough to make turns, and having some of the steeper trails groomed helps people like me, because it keeps the squids focused on the groomers and off the goods.

I've only been to CB once, and it was early season, so everything was groomers, but from what I've heard about the place, it seems like there is enough extreme terrain that even if they groomed everything they could get a cat up, there would still be plenty of stuff that wouldn't/couldn't get groomed.
post #42 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnH
... And I'd rather have those people stay on the groomed trails and off the ungroomed ones so that they don't hack up the powder for the rest of us while they get all PO'd that the trail isn't groomed....
Amen
post #43 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldSchool
On the other hand, wouldn't it be great if all the gapers flocked to just a few resorts? Maybe we could start a campaign to convince them that the best skiing is in Eastern North America.
I was with everybody on this thread, up until this comment. I like to make fun of gapers as much as the next guy, but only to a point...Just because someone enjoys, or even requires, groomed slopes DOES NOT make them a gaper. My father has had 5 knee surgeries over his 40 year ski career (oddly enough, only one of them was a ski related injury) -- he simply can't risk skiing crud, bumps, or other non-groomed slopes. Does that make him a gaper? Of course not.

OTOH, he has very little desire to see blatantly EXPERT slopes groomed to perfection, although he did get quite a kick out of skiing Rolex @ Steamboat after it had been groomed.
post #44 of 51
I went to wasted state 2 years ago (right when the Muellers bought cb) and from my recent trips out, there is alot more grooming. However, I don't think that it is a bad thing. It used to be that none of the slopes were groomed if snow fell. Every single run would be a mogul run by the end of the day; not exactly my fav thing when I hurt my knee. The additional groomed runs are nice, but to a certain extent, they are overdoing it. They completely groom gold link and paradise now. It used to be that you could get some nice turns in on paradise if you were there within 30 min of first chair. It quickly becomes a mogul run because every single person uses paradise to navigate the mountain. I can understand their desire to groom it. Unfortunatly, the major loss was gold link. It used to be that you could hit up gold link mid day and still find plenty of fresh tracks, now it is completely groomed. While I like the idea of only grooming half the trail, I doubt it will happen. Most of the people skiing where groomers can reach are tourists. Every local is on the steeps or in the trees (where there is always plenty of powder) Unless the tourists stop wanting groomed runs, there is no chance of changing the grooming policy. CB is marketing themselves as the best groomers in CO, a feat they might well be able to achieve.
Personally, as long as they don't implement a "speed limit" to go along with their grooming., I'll continue to seek my powder in the trees and on the steeps, and blast gs turns down the mountain to do it again.
If you are visiting and want some powder, but don't want to go onto the steeps, just talk to a local. Most are more than willing to point you in the right direction and show you where some nice turns can be made.
post #45 of 51

The tourists pay the bills

I'm sorry to admit that I've missed out on Crested Butte. It was on my "to do" list for years, and I never made it.

I did ski at Winter Park/Mary Jane for years, however. I know the area well.

When Intrawest took the place over, there was (and still is, to some extent) some of the same feeling - "They're going to groom everything on Mary Jane! The world has ended."

Intrawest did, in fact, groom some runs that had never been groomed before, much to the disgust of the regulars. They winch-catted half of Outhouse. Horrors! Further, Intrawest is the epitome of the corporate, real-estate-driven purveyor of homogenized Disneyland skiing.

However, they left a lot of stuff ungroomed as always. They've taken out some beetle kill in places not on the trail maps and left behind some very good tree skiing. Vasquez Cirque and the chutes on Mary Jane's backside are still intact, even though reletively few of their guests with the most money can ski in those places. There are some good lines at WP/MJ, and there always will be. I'm sure there are epic lines at CB, and will be as long as the bullwheels turn, and beyond, if you hike or have a sled.

The sad fact is, very few ski areas can make a living off of advanced/expert enthusiast skiers. The upper-middle-class families from Iowa and Florida and wherever come to the big ski areas and pay the bills so that we can enjoy long runs with big vertical. It's a good idea to keep them happy.

In return for their financial contribution, which supports terrain they will never see, they want groomers. And if we want the big vertical and fast lifts, we'll see to it they have a reason to come and spend.

We might note that, at Mary Jane, it is possible to spend a few minutes with the herd at the monster six-pack, and still ski alone on Needle's Eye, or in the trees somewhere. The herd is going down Sleeper or Mary Jane run. They want to be able to go home and say they skied Mary Jane, even if they really didn't see very much of it at all. Fine. They make it possible for me to ski places they'll never know.

I now ski at a small area in British Columbia. They have two lifts, and they groom perhaps ten runs, total. They don't own a winch cat, and probably never will. Although most of their skiers still ski those groomed runs, a much higher percentage skis the ungroomed trees and steeps than at a major ski area. You have to work some for the best lines, and they aren't as long as they are at a major resort. If you go out-of-bounds, which is legal in many places in Canada, you might manage six or seven runs a day. It is, in some sense, a purer skiing experience, but it also comes with a price.

You pays your money and you makes your choice.


Go play!
post #46 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Shortround
I went to wasted state 2 years ago (right when the Muellers bought cb) and from my recent trips out, there is alot more grooming. However, I don't think that it is a bad thing. It used to be that none of the slopes were groomed if snow fell. Every single run would be a mogul run by the end of the day; not exactly my fav thing when I hurt my knee. The additional groomed runs are nice, but to a certain extent, they are overdoing it. They completely groom gold link and paradise now. It used to be that you could get some nice turns in on paradise if you were there within 30 min of first chair. It quickly becomes a mogul run because every single person uses paradise to navigate the mountain. I can understand their desire to groom it. Unfortunatly, the major loss was gold link. It used to be that you could hit up gold link mid day and still find plenty of fresh tracks, now it is completely groomed. While I like the idea of only grooming half the trail, I doubt it will happen. Most of the people skiing where groomers can reach are tourists. Every local is on the steeps or in the trees (where there is always plenty of powder) Unless the tourists stop wanting groomed runs, there is no chance of changing the grooming policy. CB is marketing themselves as the best groomers in CO, a feat they might well be able to achieve.
Personally, as long as they don't implement a "speed limit" to go along with their grooming., I'll continue to seek my powder in the trees and on the steeps, and blast gs turns down the mountain to do it again.
If you are visiting and want some powder, but don't want to go onto the steeps, just talk to a local. Most are more than willing to point you in the right direction and show you where some nice turns can be made.
I skied last Friday after they got 7". I was on the 10th chair and was one of the first to hit Paradise. It was only 50% groomed. The skier's left side of the bowl (chair) was completely ungroomed until you got down to the flat section.

I then skied East River which was not groomed at all, then hit the North Face lift for a few laps after it opened.

I skied a few runs at Goldlink on the way back for the day. Under and to the skier's left of the chair was groomed, but there were still fresh tracks waiting on the runs to the skier's right. Prospect was also not groomed, but heavily track out by then.

I agree that the locals are all hitting the steeps and trees and it's a non-issue for them and may even be beneficial by giving everybody a place to be. Unfortunately I could only ski with the locals for about a half day before having to hit the mortal's runs since I'm not in my best shape right now.

It seems to me they are trying to balance out the mountain more not groom everything possible.
post #47 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattL
It seems to me they are trying to balance out the mountain more not groom everything possible.
Balance is the key or at least it should be.

People need groomed runs to get started and as we've seen in some of the posts, some skiers need these runs for health reasons as well in order to enjoy the sport yet still be safe.

That's said, resorts should leave some of the harder greens and easier blues ungroomed so that learning skiers can be introduced to ungroomed conditions without being in awe of the terrain. My guess is if this occurred more folks would learn to ski ungroomed conditions, become better skiers overall, and lessen the demand for more and more groomed terrain.
post #48 of 51
Quote:
I skied last Friday after they got 7". I was on the 10th chair and was one of the first to hit Paradise. It was only 50% groomed. The skier's left side of the bowl (chair) was completely ungroomed until you got down to the flat section.

I then skied East River which was not groomed at all, then hit the North Face lift for a few laps after it opened.
They might have been trying to get a thicker base when I went (mid Jan)? Sounds like they are doing exactly the grooming I want on the mountain
post #49 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach13
Balance is the key or at least it should be.

People need groomed runs to get started and as we've seen in some of the posts, some skiers need these runs for health reasons as well in order to enjoy the sport yet still be safe.

That's said, resorts should leave some of the harder greens and easier blues ungroomed so that learning skiers can be introduced to ungroomed conditions without being in awe of the terrain. My guess is if this occurred more folks would learn to ski ungroomed conditions, become better skiers overall, and lessen the demand for more and more groomed terrain.
nice thoughts, Coach. well reasoned.
post #50 of 51
Thread Starter 
I've had some good email exchanges with the Director of Operations for CBMR. I'm convinced that given time, the new owners and CB will reach an equilibrium that will benefit the full range of skiers. I was impressed that he was willing to discuss the issue and that he took the time to do so. He is obviously very dedicated to his ski mountain.

I'm looking forward to my next ski trip to the Butte.
post #51 of 51
Just came back from a week at Crested Butte. Great snow on North Face all week. Only one semi-powder day = 6-8 inches up high although only reported 4 inches. Only a few none groomed runs. Crystal, part of International, part of Paradise bowl. Didn't ski low down, but doubt any of the easy blues were not groomed. Not sure about East River lift.
Disappointed that there was very little for advanced intermediates and no real good long bump runs. Twister was the nicest bump run and the North Face/Spellbound was terrific.
I was also very disappointed with the ski school for my four year old. Watched her from up on the Mt and didn't see any instructor help her for over 20 minutes as she skated down the magic carpet area looking behind her for some help. The area they have is almost flat. How can she learn in that? The instructors had to push them along to gain any speed to wedge or turn. Powder Panda at Aspen was much better (and she told me that after her first day). Glorified baby sitting imo.
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