2014 #BigAironElk #CrestedButte #WestElkProject @coloradofreeskier @twoplankpro
I love it when my days are full – full of exuberant life. In Crested Butte, it is pretty easy to fill your cup to the brim with peak experiences that make you stand in the middle of it all thinking, “Wow! This is my life! How incredibly lucky am I?”
The mountains start it all off, of course. Hitting the “hill” with gloriously bluebird skies, or facing the storm and skiing the “pow” is my favorite way to begin a day. Skiing ‘til my legs are burning and I can’t possibly ski one more run gives me a big two thumbs up that I really earned that happy hour cocktail.
But then, I know when I’m really living large when even after happy hour there is one more drop of experience to squeeze out of the day. For me, this is live music. I love it. Truly it is one of the things I live for. I love music that makes me dance, that so completely occupies me there is no room to think about anything else. I love music where I can sit back and let the talent and passion of the musicians just pour over me, leaving me inspired and fulfilled.
Recently at the Center for the Arts, this awesome little venue in the heart of town, I got to experience that “full cup phenomenon” to the absolute hilt. It was two nights of Leftover Salmon. The Center is so intimate – only 215 seats – so there is no bad place to be in the whole building. Everywhere you can see the music, with plenty of space to dance, or just sit back if that’s more your style (but it’s not mine!). This really cool vibe develops between the musicians and the crowd because you can actually speak to each other and interact. The musicians feel that, so the shows at the Center are always so vibrant and alive with energy.
Leftover Salmon rockin’ the house at the Center for the Arts this past February. Photo by Alex Fenlon.
The Salmon show was amazing – everyone off their feet and moving to the music like their lives depended on it. Just like I like it. I can’t say I knew everyone there but the whole room felt like a private musical concert full of a bunch of friends. It just makes you happy to be able to experience music like that.
Which is why I am so excited, I mean literally can’t wait, for the Robert Randolph & the Family Band show this upcoming Sunday, March 9. Sometimes you have to ask someone to pinch you. Because here you are, after a fantastic day of skiing, and then on top of that you get to see what Rolling Stone considers one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists” of all time? With only 200 people? Unbelievable. He’s my kind of music – funk, rock, and rhythm and blues. Truly a master of this crazy complex instrument called a “pedal steel” guitar. I’ve seen him before – his concerts explode with energy, giving rise what many call his “rapturous and fervent audience.”
Robert Randolph & the Family Band at the Center for the Arts Sunday, March 9 at 8 p.m.
Crazy thing is Robert Randolph & the Family Band isn’t even the end of it. As a music lover I’ve always got my eyes and ears open for the next best show. Patty Larkin is cued up next on March 19. This will be a completely different kind of show I think, which just makes the Center that much cooler. The diversity of shows is extraordinary. One moment you’re dancing to funk, the next you’re being serenaded by a slide guitar virtuoso. Patty’s got this super sultry alto voice, kind of “bluesy” at times that many liken to Bonnie Raitt. Her lyrics are the kind that really make you think, like a good folk artists’ lyrics should – very conscious. She’s earned eleven Boston Music Awards and here she is in our little arts center.
Patty Larkin at the Center for the Arts Wednesday, March 19 at 8 p.m.
After Patty, Eilen Jewel takes the stage. I’m really looking forward to this one. They call her the “Queen of the Minor Key.” I’m attracted to music that has a bit of an edge, and minor keys definitely give it that. Eilen is a cross between country-gospel, box-car soul, jazz and swing. She’s got a dark sense about her lyrics, mixed with a strong hand of grit - things like cupid carrying a shotgun instead of a bow and arrow. You get the idea she’s felt some pain and takes those emotions and twists them into these raw, wild stories full of characters and longing, all sung with a smoky voice that just lingers over you. She’s playing Tuesday, March 25.
Eilen Jewel at the Center for the Arts Tuesday, March 25
And that’s not even all. The Center is also featuring two hilarious stand-up comedians, Phil Palisoul and Chris Voth on Saturday, March 15. Cross over artist Christopher O’Riley is a classical pianist who has transcribed songs from the likes of Nirvana, Radiohead and Pink Floyd. That’s going to be amazing. It’s on Saturday, March 22. The season rounds out with aerial dance from the Frequent Flyers on March 29, and the Telluride Theatre Burlesque on April 4.
What I would encourage anyone coming to Crested Butte to do is to fill your cup. Put so many of those peak experiences into it that it is just brimming over with life. Don’t miss a single moment. And for me, this means topping off my ski day with some live music at the intimate venue of the Center for the Arts. Be it broadening my horizons with music I’ve never heard before, or dancing ‘til I just can’t stand up anymore, every bit of it is just one more drop of deliciousness in my cup. It just doesn’t get better than this. It really doesn’t.
- Molly Murfee
Everyone loves an awesome ski vacation but have you ever wanted to do something that makes that vacation stand out? At Crested Butte not only is there awesome terrain and great snow but we have very unique activities off the slopes too!
One of the most unique and memorable activities on this mountain is the Sleigh-ride dinner at Uley’s Cabin at mid mountain. Every Wednesday- Saturday people ride a sleigh drawn by a snowcat to Uley’s Cabin to enjoy an exquisite 5-course meal.
Here is my take on the night.
We started the evening gathering at the Waffle Cabin to check in and load up the snowcat. We were met with an Uley’s hostess and the cat driver. They prepared the sleigh, which usually entails setting out the blankets for everyone. However, due to the snowy storm they handed us the blankets and we wrapped ourselves in the blankets to stay dry (It was dumping snow). It is truly an awe-inspiring experience to head up the mountain after hours with the sun-setting and the stars starting to appear. However, due to the snow storm we didn’t have too many views, but the higher we got on the mountain the lighter the snow fell to eventually pause for us to arrive at Uley’s Cabin to see the majestic peak and the Elk Mountains off in the distance.
We were welcomed by the staff and walked into the cozy, warm cabin.
We were then seated at our tables to find this loving appetizer dish for everyone in our group.
From there we were greeted by our server Ryan inquiring about drinks and which of the three entrée choices we wanted. We enjoyed a lovely dinner that started with the appetizers and warm bread, followed with a soup, then salad, then our main course. I chose the Norwegian salmon that just melted in my mouth.
After we ate all that food, we still had dessert to come. We ended our night at Uley’s with a flourless chocolate cake that was decadent. Post dinner, one table stood up to leave and then all the rest followed. However, if people want to leave at different times the cat driver is willing. We all got our winter attire on to go back outside and ride down in the sleigh. Of course, our lovely hostesses set out the blankets because it wasn’t snowing and just a few minutes before we came outside it started dumping snow. So the ride down was the same as the ride up a little snowy, but lots of fun.
The Sleigh-ride dinner is great for everyone and truly a memorable experience and I am looking forward to taking some guests when they come to visit! If you would like to make reservations please go to www.skicb.com/uleys or call 970.349.2275
Want to have some fun off the slopes at Crested Butte? Check out the Adventure Park open daily all year long! Play some mini golf, go rock climbing, enjoy the bungee tramps and don’t forget the plummet into the BagJump. Buy your tickets at the Adventure Center in Mountaineer Square.
This past weekend, the Subaru Freeride Series held its annual competition in Crested Butte. Crested Butte Mountain Athletes showed up with their A-game. Amongst the great performances were first place Mary Boddington (snowboard) and Sydney Dickinson (ski) and second place Tom Runcie (ski), in their respective categories. Here are these podium-sitting athletes’ experiences.
Mark Epstein Photography
It has been an exciting and excellent week. Starting things off with a giant storm to get the blood flowing! Then the arrival of all the amazing and talented people of the Subaru Freeride Series. This is the first year since 2009 that the snowboard extremes were held here in my hometown Crested Butte! I love this mountain and having the chance to show off all of its glory to some of the best snowboarders in the world was a huge honor and a blast, to say the least! Going into the comp I knew that I had a little home field advantage, but these women really know how to throw down a good strong run on any mountain, so I never get too a head of myself with confidence. Day one I came in third taking a line through Staircase to Slot Rocks. I was just stoked to be able to ride Crested Butte’s one and only “Hourglass”, since I had now made it to the finals! This is the prized venue that very few get the opportunity to ride. It was amazing conditions and some of the most challenging terrain I’ve ever ridden. Even with that, I think the most amazing part of that day was the community that came out to support, not just our home athletes, but the visitors too. Crested Butte has more love than any other place. I couldn’t be more proud to get First place on Hourglass with my whole CB family right there. Thank you Crested Butte, you guys rock!!!!
Mark Epstein Photography
The last few days, some amazing skiing went down! On Thursday the 2-Star athletes competed on the Headwall and fought to get a few limited spots for the 4-Star event. Local, Kele Thorsen, hucked rental shop air into 1st place.
Day one of the 4-Star event took place on some terrain that hasn’t been open, due to lack of snow, for the past 2 seasons. There was visual inspection only, in order to preserve the snow. The venue included Slot Rocks, Staircase, Body Bag, and Dead-end shoots. This was quite a show! The guys and gals ripped this venue apart! Top local finishers for the women included Pip Hunt, Ashley Bembenek, and myself. Pip shredded Body Bag, to the choke, and sent the lookers right pillows, putting her in 1st place. Ashley skied a playful line down staircase, sending a few airs, and showed us her smooth yet powerful style. The Evans brothers, Matt and Randy, threw down in Dead-End; Matt with a huge air from the top and Randy with an enormous back flip from Hamburger rock. Placing them in 1st and 3rd. Tom Runcie shredded some steep pow down the middle of Dead End and found a clean air from Hamburger Rock placing him in 8th. Rob Dickinson crushed it down Body Bag, hit a few pillows, and sent the mandatory air huge, putting him into 9th. In the Snowboard division, Mary Boddington slayed a line on the Staircase handrail down to slot rocks putting her in 3rd for the day. CB was representing!
The Finals venue took place in the Big Hourglass. The Hourglass is a permanently closed area and hasn’t been used for competition since the 2009-2010 season, and only had been used a handful of times before that. The venue ranges from steep glades, pillows, and the Bermuda Triangle cliff band. The terrain is as steep as 50+ degrees. The snow was unusually good, soft and not too punchy or rotten. This is defiantly an area that most of us locals dream about skiing. Kele and Ashley took the biggest airs of the day for the women, but unfortunately they had a few bobbles. Pip skied an impressive line above the Bermuda Triangle placing her in 2nd. Mary showed us her style, fast, fluid, while hitting some airs all the way down earning her a 1st place finish! The men were incredible to watch! Tom taking 2nd with a strong run on the lookers right of the venue, airing huge twice. Rob put down a super playful run; slaying the top exposure, hitting pillow lines, and take a big air into the Bermuda triangle placing him in 4th.
I think I had the time of my life this weekend. Day one I got to ski a fresh line down Body Bag, with only one other track in there, it felt like a backcountry run! Day two I chose to ski a fall line pitch from gate two above the Bermuda triangle. I skied the ever so steep line as fast and fluid as I could, it was spiny and sloughy, and so much fun! Luck was defiantly on my side and somehow ended up in 1st!
Big Thanks to the Crested Butte Ski Patrol for making these venues happen. It was quite a weekend!!!
Mark Epstein Photography
Big Hourglass is a legendary place in Crested Butte. Skiers of Phoenix Bowl and Third Bowl gawk up at the sustained steeps, towering pillow stacks, and huge mandatory cliff bands all year. On very rare occasion, a lucky few get to ski behind the ropes. It is a special thing when the world of competitive freeskiing descends on its birthplace of Created Butte, and even more so when Big Hourglass is the finals venue. Locals come out of the woodwork and ski fans drive from all around to watch freeskiers vie for the top spot on the most impressive and difficult venue on the Freeskiing World Qualifier tour. This year was no exception, and conditions couldn’t have been better. I chose one of the lines I have been eying ever since my first competition, when I placed 10th on the skier’s right side of the Hourglass. I picked a highly exposed ramp of snow that skirts the far looker’s right edge of the venue, one I knew would look particularly impressive from the crowd’s perspective. I hit a cliff right out of the start gate, straight towards the crowd and the finish line, and arced turns down the hanging snowfield above the largest cliff in the venue. It felt that at any moment I could turn right, send it, and land in the middle of the cheering mass of fans. I was having so much fun flowing down the ramp that my exit air appeared in front of me much faster than I had expected, and I sent it as big as I could, straight towards the finish line and the crowd. Putting down that line in Hourglass is probably my proudest accomplishment in my freeskiing career. I was so nervous at the top, but as I tipped into the venue, all distractions went away and I was fully focused on the task at hand. Everything came together perfectly. I kept an eye on the landmarks that I had picked through binoculars from the bottom, while controlling my skiing through the pillows and spines that challenged my path down the hanging snowfield. I am proud to stand on the podium at my home for a second time, and to call this amazing ski mountain my home.
See full results, photos, videos, and more here- http://subarufreerideseries.com/crested-butte/
If you have been to Crested Butte Mountain Resort in the past two weeks you might be asking yourself, can the snow get any better than this? If you haven’t been to CBMR in the past two weeks you might have been wishing you had. But don’t worry; you can still get a taste of the wonderful Rocky Mountain powder this weekend. Since January 24, Crested Butte has received 44” (over 3.5 feet) of snow and forecasts say we could get up to 37” (over 3 feet) of snow by Monday. Here is Joel Gratz’s OpenSnow forecast:
That is almost 7 feet of snow in a little over two weeks! Winter is definitely here in Crested Butte and we hope you are as excited about it as we are. So get in your car, buy your plane tickets, take the bus, do whatever you need to do to get on up here and have some fun with us!
Save on your next trip at www.skicb.com/deals or by calling one of our vacation specialists at 1.800.810.7669. See you on the slopes!
Learn about an upcoming sport from CBMR Ski Mountaineering athlete- Brian Smith
Ski mountaineer racing is now in full throttle as we are mid-season now. Used gear has been sold, new gear has been bought and companies are running out of stock. The local town series races at CBMR had their last morning event last month and it was a pairs event! The last two events will be in the afternoon given the longer daylight hours and one is tonight! Even though we are still seeing the sub zero temperatures in the mornings we are getting mid 30’s by mid-day. A sign that we are moving into the later half of winter.
I have now competed in 4 COSMIC events: Wolf Creek, Irwin, Sunlight and Powderhorn. My results have improved with each event and I feel I am on track to claim a national title in March. My last post covered WC and Irwin so this write-up will cover Sunlight and Powderhorn.
Unlike last season at Sunlight with a humid and extremely cold sub zero start we were greeted with 20’s and sunshine. Team GO-CB made the drive in the am leaving Gunny at 2:30am Saturday morning due to a long day of driving with FedEx Friday. With the exception of the Dorais brothers and Tom Goth from Salt Lake most of the heavy hitters made the start including the undefeated John Gaston. The start was fast as usual with Simmons, Marshall and myself setting a quick early tempo to separate the field. At the top of the first climb, Marshall was breaking trail at a comfortable pace and had a group of 7 from behind regrouping! At the top of the second climb was the same scenario leading to a boot pack. After a good steep/technical descent down the Heathen we hit our last skin/boot pack. There was a lot of shuffling with crashes and skin failures leading to the boot pack but at the top is where the final selection happened. John took the lead and made a huge effort to drop Marshall and I. Marshall clawed back soon after and I managed to make contact a few minutes later. One last trail break near the summit brought the pace to a screeching halt and caused a furious scramble to the final skin strip. John was quickest leaving 1 second in from of me. I was about 2-3 seconds ahead of Marshall. Somehow I never made it inside of John’s slipstream as he tucked to the entrance to the Heathen. John was quick to drop in and carried his speed to the catwalk at the bottom. I had a brief pause to make sure I was headed the right direction at the exit and that was it, 11 seconds. Marshall 3rd, Tamm 4th, Brown 5th and Wick 6th. The real killer was the $500 payout to the men’s and women’s winners only. Oh well, that’s racing and John earned it.
The next weekend would be Powderhorn. Another weekend of warmer temperatures and rando fun. John Gaston was unfortunately sick and did not make the trip. Teammate Bryan “Wick” Wickenhauser couldn’t make the trip either due to work/family commitments. We did however have 2013 national team member and Grand Traverse Champion Tom Goth from Salt Lake. With Simmons and Thomson in attendance as well we were looking at another barn burner start. Simmons, Goth and I set the tempo early with Goth doing most of the work. Simmons was having skin issues on the first climb and was out of the picture early. I stayed glued to Goth on the second climb and Marshall was dangling off the back. On the last climb Marshall took up the lead and launched his first big effort. Goth was gapped immediately and I passed when Marshall was up to 10 seconds. After 5 minutes in the pain cave I bridged back to Marshall and stayed with him across the top to the final skin strip. I had a couple seconds on Marshall heading out. I stayed pinned down cannonball to the last pitch where I lost pin flagging. When I saw the paint in the snow down the last pitch I pointed it. This time I was the one on the top step with a 12 second gap to 2nd. Goth finished 3rd about 2 minutes back. Max Tamm was 4th and teammate Jon Brown was 5th.
The Annual Alley Loop Nordic race finished up last weekend. Thank for reading and pray for snow!
The park up at crested butte has been as good as ever this year. The snowfall has as well, as most of you probably know! It is great to be able to ride a perfect park for a week or two and then go into some serious POW as the storms roll through. Last week before the start of this most recent storm we went up for a day with a helmet cam to try to get some cool shots. It turned out to be pretty bad day for riding the park. The lighting was not good and it started to snow pretty hard by the end of the afternoon. Even with conditions like this, it is still so much fun to be up at the mountain with friends. We made the most of our day and put together this short little edit. Hope you enjoy the video and the all time conditions up at the mountain. #wehavefun
Video and words: Andrew Arnold