WildSnow — Crested Butte, Colorado

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 21, 2008      

Had to deliver grandma Patricia (my mom) back to Crested Butte, so Louie and I loaded up our skis and the Nytro and headed over to the other side of the Elk Mountains. I’ve backcountry skied around Crested Butte quite a bit over the years, more back when it was less developed and it was even tough to find ski partners. We’re talking 1970s. Now things are amped — if only the weather would cooperate (warmth and clouds continue). Even so, we made a quick hit on Red Lady this morning, perhaps something tomorrow.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
On the drive, it’s obvious we’re in full melt season. Bear Creek waterfall on HWY 133 is just a drip most months, now it charges down like a hundred fire hoses.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Pit stop in Paonia, traditional Colorado independent junk food. Louie skulks out with a malt and BLT. Sorry Gran (she’s a health food consumer), boys will be boys.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
We had big plans for our first tour, but a warm night dictated something quick so we skied Mount Emmons, Crested Butte’s signature mountain that’s better known as Red Lady.

Emmons is said to be made of molybdenum ore, and the miners want it. So that’s the issue of the day around here. Pesky problem is that many of those cool Crested Butte mountain bikes couldn’t be made without moly, so there is some soul searching going on. Bottom line, can you make a decent bicycle out of plywood? (In all seriousness, they can probably get plenty of moly elsewhere, so let’s hope CB isn’t industrialized…)

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Climbing this morning.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Dropping in. Camera looking towards Crested Butte.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
The graduate. By now, he’s worked off the visit to Peppers. Not to worry, we’ll recharge on the trip back home.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Skiing down to the road was still reality, though marginal.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Another view of skiing Red Lady bowl. You can see the Crested Butte flood plain down below, filled with water from what could become a record melt off.

Being here in CB reminds me of something excellent about Colorado. It’s amazing how many “mountain towns” we’ve got packed into our Western Slope region. Each place has its own menu of incredible Rocky Mountain ski alpinism, along with a unique social and recreation “feel.” Silverton, Ouray, Aspen, Carbondale, Ridgway, Telluride, Estes, Lake City, Crestone, Leadville, Crested Butte. The list goes on. One thing cool about backcountry skiing the state is visiting such places.


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15 Responses to “WildSnow — Crested Butte, Colorado”

  1. RobinB May 21st, 2008 7:31 pm

    We have lots of moly in our old open pits here, they are welcome to it…

  2. Frank K May 21st, 2008 7:32 pm

    Lou, as I was driving home from work today I saw a Nytro with obvious mods and thought “That looks like photos of what Lou did on Wildsnow”. One of your photos on this blog entry made it obvious that it was indeed yours. Hopefully the temps drop so you can ski something good.

    Regarding the last paragraph and mountain towns, that’s something that I’ve certainly reflected on and probably will even more in the future after my 14er “quest”. Culebra as a mountain I find to be fairly uninteresting, but Culebra with the land grants and San Luis (CO’s oldest town) and the hispanic history of the area– that’s interesting and worth the time and trouble to ski it.

  3. Lou May 21st, 2008 7:59 pm

    Indeed! Gonna try something tomorrow but I don’t know if we’re into dust on frozen sun cups! Seems the weather has changed from spring back to winter…

  4. Frank K May 21st, 2008 8:10 pm

    ^^ Consider yourself lucky if the suncups are frozen 🙂

  5. Jim Jones May 22nd, 2008 7:31 am

    Peppers, that’s the old Husky hamburger joint we use to always have to stop in on our way south. Brings back memories.

  6. Carver May 22nd, 2008 11:00 am

    I’ve heard of bikes made of bamboo. Guess they have plenty of flex and they are certainly sustainable!

  7. AJ May 22nd, 2008 11:30 am

    carbon fiber works too

    speed up on your bike 🙂

  8. Shane May 22nd, 2008 12:41 pm

    “In all seriousness, they can probably get plenty of moly elsewhere, so let’s hope CB isn’t industrialized”

    I understand the sentiment but geeze Luo, considering your take on global warming this NIMBY statement surprises me. It’s getting more and more difficult to mine in the US so more and more companies are going elsewhere to places were environmental regs aren’t even in place let alone slackened. Even with China closing in it’s the US that’s creating most of the demand and we shouldn’t be exporting our impacts elsewhere.

    Imagine how things would be different if all of our resource demands had to be fulfilled within a 500 mile radius.

  9. Lou May 22nd, 2008 1:14 pm

    I’m just full of surprises.

  10. Jayson May 22nd, 2008 3:20 pm


    Still around CB? I’d be psyched to get to meet ya and maybe make some turns with you…considering it’s dumping out right now!? The Crested Butte Mountian Guides office is on Elk behind the post office

  11. Lou May 22nd, 2008 4:14 pm

    Jayson, we got weathered out of upper Slate River this morning, kinda tired at the moment after so many weeks of traveling, early starts etc., probably heading back over the hill tomorrow, but you never know. If possible I’ll stop by. Mom/gran is pretty bummed that it’s still snowing 7 months later, perhaps I’m letting her influence me (grin).

  12. Jayson May 22nd, 2008 4:31 pm

    Lou, Yeah…the winter that wouldn’t start now refuses to quit. I’m in the office until 6ish and again Friday am. I scored a mint pair of old 10th mtn skis complete with strap-on skins and old FT88 Fritschi bindings that maybe you could help me put a date on. Enjoy the snow…

  13. dave downing May 23rd, 2008 9:31 am

    Nice Bait Jayson. Let us know if Lou bites… 🙂

  14. Lou May 23rd, 2008 1:49 pm

    Yep, I did stop by the Guides office. Excellent to see they’re having a strong presence in CB, as the place has always deserved a solid guiding business.

    As for the skis/bindings, they’re the Swiss military white version. We’ve got those in the WildSnow collection so I was indeed able to give Jayson some beta.

  15. Jayson May 23rd, 2008 5:06 pm


    Thanks for coming by and and checking out our humble little operation in town here. And, of course thanks for the “real” low down on my museum era skis.

    Me and another guide are still thinking of trying the South west couloir of South Maroon on Monday, and if you have any new info on the Maroon Lake road access over there it would be greatly appreciated. Maybe we’ll see you up there.

    And thanks for the vote of support for CB Mtn Guides.

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