By Scott Clarkson
Early Morning at Crested Butte Mountain Resort
There was truly something going on here. A fairly well established movement was about to move another stride up the hill. On January 2, in Crested Butte, the Scarpa/Ski Trab Demo Center opened at Elevation Station off the lobby of the Elevation Hotel & Spa, generating cause for curiosity among the more regular active uphill community and reason for celebration from a few visiting guests anxious to join the throngs of stairclimbers ascending Mt. Crested Butte each morning.
A day earlier oblivious to the forecast, a few of us made plans to meet up, check out the demos and skin up on the latest Ski Trab Tour Rando skis and to maybe try out the latest, lightest technology in uphill boots: the Scarpa Alien. But along with prognostication comes reality. On the drive up to the mountain my car thermometer read a crisp -19 deg. F warming to a balmy -15 when I pulled into the garage at 6:00 am. I was somewhat concerned because I had only my trusty bag of the usual wear for skinning up, clothing that’s comfortable from about +15 to +30 degrees F. Following the Patagonia scale, I put on three base layers, a #1 Capilene, #2 Zip turtleneck and a heavier #3 weight on top of those. I added my R1 jacket for insulation without bulk and finished my layering with a hooded GORE-TEX breathable shell. I wore 2 layers of thin hats and rounded my ensemble with a fleece-lined bandana to keep my chin and throat toasty. Even in this sub-zero cold, my regular stuff did the trick.
Wall of Aliens
Once inside the Scarpa Center the electricity in the air was palpable. Partly from knowing we’re about to engage in a passion that few others get to experience at a mountain resort, and partly from the vibe of good people mixed with state-of-the-art gear. I met up with some fellow local uphill enthusiasts, a few resort guests and some folks from CBMR and Scarpa. I reacquainted myself with Kim Miller, CEO of the Scarpa brand who came down for the grand opening event from their headquarters in Boulder. Kim made sure that my demo Alien boots were sized right, fitted me with some gaiters, then set me up with a pair of Tour Rando skis and skins in a size 171cm.
Morning Tech Talk
Soon I was out the door, heading up Warming House Hill while fully immersed in the crisp -13 degree air. Warming House Hill soon gave way to Lower Keystone and within moments on this lightweight gear I was just about effortlessly striding up Upper Park to the work road where I would have normally taken the left turn toward Paradise Bowl. There, standing on the cat track, taking in the sun’s first rays glinting off Gothic Peak (and while still frostbite-free) I opted to make the turn back toward the base. I ripped off the skins, strapped them to my pack, shortened my poles, swapped sunglasses for goggles, locked down my heels and took off, swooping down the Upper Park steep. (Did I really just say ‘swooping’?). I was impressed by how easily these narrow skis turned and held firm on the cold packed snow. After less than a five minute descent I was back at the Scarpa Center at the base, reluctantly returning my demo gear to the techs and dreaming about my next light flight up Mt. Crested Butte.
About the Blogger: Scott Clarkson is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. An avid outdoor enthusiast, you’ll often see Scott and his dog Marley running around the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte area or skinning up the mountain in the early morning.