Back in the Butte

I made it down for a three day weekend in Crested Butte this past weekend with the Alpine Club. Unfortunately, as was the case last weekend at Loveland Valley, lack of snow has prevented the upper lifts (as in BOTH T-Bars) from being opened yet this season. I also figured out that my new camera doesn’t function well in the cold so I didn’t get many shots.

Snodgrass Mountain

Chris, back from Moscow, back in the mountains

A few of the crew joined me for a day tour of Snodgrass Mountain, however, and the recycled powder in the aspen glades was super nice. Once again, my camera wasn’t digging the cold, so this was the only shot I got.

We were stopped by a lady snowshoeing on one of the groomed cross country paths who was actively against the development of Snodgrass Mountain. The mountain is going through a repeal process since they original plans for expansion were denied by the forest service. Having learned about the situation through the interwebs, I think Crested Butte is stuck between a rock and a hard place, very similarly to other smaller, independently owned resorts throughout the state, who need to expand/develop or they will face bankruptcy. This is the paradox of expansion: the locals are against it, but without it, the mountain will either go under, bringing the town with it, or it will be purchased by a large company like Intrawest, who will drive up real estate prices forcing the locals out.

But, in all honesty, I am on the side to develop Snodgrass, in particular because I would love to lap those glades all day via a lift. I am not a huge fan of the current development plans, however, but if they were to start small, cut out a few runs and put up a couple of lifts to start, I would probably try to make it down there more to do so if they opened new terrain, just like a lot of people throughout Colorado who are tired of the hit-or-miss snowpack on Mt. Crested Butte. Also, it’s not like Snodgrass is the ONLY accessible backcountry in the area. In fact, I had intended to ski Red Lady that day, but my crew was too slow to get moving for a longer tour.

Expansion or not, I guess I can always find another reason to go back, especially if this turns into a massive mine…

2 thoughts on “Back in the Butte

  1. Jon, did you ever consider that a ski area doesn’t need to expand to increase their bottom line? Remember, more terrain means they need more employees and more maintenance which costs a lot of money. Do you honestly think a few acres of intermediate terrain will make enough money to turn a profit, despite the increase in cost? I seriously would doubt CB would go under if they don’t get this expansion, I think ski areas need to start going back to skiing and not development in order to make money. I’m not against Snodgrass, in fact I worked on a hydrology project that was submitted to the forest service showing that the hydrological impacts would be minimal with an expansion. Maybe make season passes more affordable to locals in order to draw more people to the area, it’s hard to move to a town that charges over $1000 for a season pass yet has inconsistent snow.

  2. Season passes do not draw major money to an area. Skiing makes no money for an area. Locals are nothing but more than a cost to the resort. The family that owns a 2nd home and visits 2 weeks out of the year spending money like it’s no body’s business is where the profit is at. But this has all been said on Lou’s post.

    I remember the great marketing campaign A-Basin ran when it expanded to Montezuma Basin and how crowded that place became with an extra lift on the backside. I think, if done properly, a simple expansion would at least put CBMR’s head back above water for the time being. Especially with I-70 traffic and the ever-growing crowds at the Vail Resorts, just the hint of new lift-served terrain in the state will have the Front Range excited to remember what a powder day was like before they were brainwashed into thinking a powder day means 5 inches tracked out before noon at Breck.

    But then again, I was up at Copper today, and since the mountain was purchased by PowdrCorp I noticed a big vibe change up there, and I’m anxious to see what happens to it. I would definitely purchase a Copper/CB pass or any similar combo, but not one or the other. Maybe, in some wild fantasy, the rest of the state will bond together against Vail Resorts before they suck the soul out of skiing here. Then all this expansion/development speak will vanish. Until then, all these resorts are just looking for ways to keep up, and as this decade progresses, it’s clear some will not be able to without some major changes.

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