Uphilling in Colorado – Crested Butte Resort Proposes Charging Money, Dog Control

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 5, 2012      

Crested Butte Mountain (ski) Resort, Colorado. They’re attempting to make a forward thinking policy for uphilling as part of their business plan. Below is ALL ON THE TABLE at this point. I’m re-printing this announcement email so anyone with interest can show up in person for discussion, or perhaps leave comments here on WildSnow that CBMR resort officials are sure to see.

Official announcement from CBMR follows, lightly edited for clarity:

Calling all Uphillers! CBMR is in the process of revising the current Uphill Use Policy and would like to get your input and comments.

Please stop by Trackers (at the Mt Square Conference Center) from 8:00 am to 9:30 am next week, Wednesday December 12th, Thursday Dec. 13th or Friday December 14th to meet and discuss uphilling (Uphill Use) policy with CBMR representatives.

As Uphill Use continues to grow within the skiing industry and with increasing popularity here in Crested Butte, CBMR is proposing changes to our current policy to enhance the experience and product for future Uphill Use.

Goal: Formalize Uphill Use as an additional amenity offered by CBMR within a maintained and controlled environment.

Objectives: Broaden current customer base by offering a variety of convenient routes and equipment to encourage increased uphill use. Enhance the Uphill Use experience with a variety of products and services to promote the activity. Promote education, skier safety and knowledge of risks associated with Uphill Use within the ski area boundary.

New Concepts for 2013:
– Create a dedicated route for daytime use up to Ten Peaks via Columbine Hill.
– Designate specific routes for Uphill traffic with dogs to avoid incidents.
– All CBMR season passes will include a 2013 Uphill Use pass. Non CBMR pass holders will be charged a small fee for Uphill Use on the Main Mountain.
– All Uphill Use of the Snodgrass Mountain road is free.
– Promote additional activities such as Full Moon ski parties and other social events.
– Discuss the development of future Uphill/Backcountry trails on Snodgrass Mountain and Main Mountain.

Ethan Mueller Vice President/General Manager Crested Butte Mountain Resort
970-349-2322 www.skicb.com

Remember the above are PROPOSED policies, up for discussion. So make your voice heard!


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38 Responses to “Uphilling in Colorado – Crested Butte Resort Proposes Charging Money, Dog Control”

  1. jay December 5th, 2012 4:57 pm

    i went in skeptical but that actually sounds promising. i’ll be curious to hear what the CB locals think about it.

  2. Lou Dawson December 5th, 2012 5:28 pm

    CB locals are known for some rather vociferous opinions about nearly anything… so yeah, we _shall_ see!

  3. Alex B December 5th, 2012 5:56 pm

    I like the aspect of a designated uphill day use route for the early season when conditions in the backcountry are not very good but people dont have to get up at the crack of dawn to tour on the resort.

  4. Matt December 5th, 2012 6:10 pm

    Anyone from Canada, especially BC or Alberta, have any experience touring up during the operating season at a ski hill? I’ve skinned up at Kicking Horse before the season started, and I’ve seen people skinning up the ski out at Sunshine, but that is in a national park.

  5. Brian C December 5th, 2012 8:59 pm

    Mt Bachelor has had an uphill use policy for some years with a designated travel route to the top of the mountain and out-of-bounds access gate. It doesn’t get a lot of use as it is 2700′ of vertical to the top and most of the desirable terrain is in-bounds. So you really have to want to hike to use it. But there is also a much shorter uphill route to the cinder cone that gets used a lot. A lift ticket only gets you about half-way up the cinder cone — so you are hiking either way. On big powder days there are always people arriving early to skin up the cinder cone and get first tracks. Read the details at http://www.mtbachelor.com/winter/mountain/mountain_experience/uphill_travel

  6. Shredgar December 5th, 2012 9:26 pm

    Alta & Brighton UT have uphill routes.

  7. lechero December 5th, 2012 10:00 pm

    Boisterous or vociferous?

    It’s a good idea

  8. dave downing December 6th, 2012 6:58 am

    Fernie, BC has a strict no uphill policy. I’m pretty sure it includes pre-season too.

  9. Lou Dawson December 6th, 2012 7:31 am

    I was speaking with a savvy business guy last evening, he mentioned that uphilling is like snowboarding, in that it could indeed be a revenue source for resorts or at least something to enhance the total resort experience in that once one resort provides it for their guests, others will follow, and that in a few years we’ll be looking back at the days it was banned the same way looking back at the snowboard bans appear incredibly ridiculous.

    What occurs to me is that if resorts are so clueless as to ban snowboards, it should be no surprise that they can’t figure out how to be inclusive of uphilling.

    What’s ironic is that at a lot of resorts where we talk to the management, many of the employees are uphilling, including upper management and even some of the owners. But they seem to have this strange inertia about making it into part of their product package.

    Another thought is that a lot of resorts are trying to go to an all-season model. I assum that means in summer they’ll provide a hiking and trail running experience. Well the logical tie in for that is that they provide uphilling in the winter. But perhaps that’s too logical for the typical North American ski resort (grin).


  10. Brian Kingsford December 6th, 2012 8:14 am

    I believe that CBMR has the better intention of promoting the experience for uphill ski approaches inbounds. In the long term it will help to protect and establish the skiers right of way on CBMR leased land during their ski season. One extremely poor example of bad business policy of leased Forest service land is Teleski inTelluride. They have completely eliminated any uphill traffic on their resort during their season, before the resort opens and after the resort closes. This is an example of poor relationships between a community and its resort operation executives. Remember Telluride has some of the best side-country access in the lowers 48. It is within every skiers best interest to find the safest approach and most efficient route to our surrounding back country. Unfortunately our beloved B-creek is best accessed from the top of the Telluride ski resort. Obviously we have other options but the forum of discussion revolves around one simple idea: CBMR is reaching out, planning ahead and moving forward with an excellent management to establish stronger relations with their ski community. Vs. Teleski which is imposing their iron fists once again and preventing thousands of acres of public land from being accessed.

  11. Dave Field December 6th, 2012 8:37 am

    This sounds like a worthwhile idea to explore and implement. Hopefully it results in a win-win by encouraging such use in a safe manner and setting a good precedent for other areas to follow and providing access for the public.

  12. XXX_er December 6th, 2012 9:06 am

    ” Anyone from Canada, especially BC or Alberta, have any experience touring up during the operating season at a ski hill? ”

    In Smithers uphill traffic is not allowed during lift hrs but after hrs is no problem, it would be nice cuz the rotarians built a ski run to town which lets a skier hike from main st to ski hill lodge but you can only skin to the ski hill boundary, there is lots of room for a designated uphill track, there are no operational probelms and someone who checked with the insurance company sez they don’t care


    the hill did let this event^^ run twice with a designate up track even gave us the lodge to hang out in all night and nobody got killed …no problems

    I don’t think they can see how getting more people up there would benifit them if they aren’t paying for a pass or buying realestate ?

  13. Lou Dawson December 6th, 2012 9:26 am

    Brian, I thought it was Chapman who was the evil one who was ruining everything. Didn’t realize Telski was being so much trouble as well. Evil twins? Or one being played against the other?

  14. Brian Kingsford December 6th, 2012 9:59 am

    Chapman has once again used his devient real estate practices and purchased a number of mine claims in the uppers of B-creek. Essentially anyone who chooses to use the side country access gates now crosses his private property and therefore is trespassing.

    He is looking to leverage Teleski into buying the property from him at a much appreciated value. Teleski had a program of guided side country tours into the creek. Chapman realized that Teleski had declined purchase of several mine claims and went after it himself. I doubt if Teleski will ever purchase the property and has since stopped side country tours.

    Teleski is never the less a step child to the harsh business practices within our sanctuary.

  15. Ryan Stefani December 6th, 2012 10:20 am

    Wait a second. Isn’t Crested Butte in the Gunnison National Forest? So they’re going to charge to use national forest land? That sounds like total crap to me. I can understand requiring a lift ticket (payment) to use CBMR equipment (EG: lifts). But CBMR charging a fee to go uphill on national forest land sounds like a terrible idea. Not a fan. Not at all.

    This revenue stream will just end up being like Teleski and Skilink. Yay, corporations! I’m sure Vail is paying close attention…

  16. Tom Gos December 6th, 2012 10:37 am

    I was skeptical when I read the headline, but Crested Butte’s proposal sounds pretty reasonable. This issue has been in the news quite a bit recently here in Colorado, so I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit. Like Lou, I drew parallels with the rise snowboarding back in the 80s and 90s, and I think that soon uphill use will be just accepted as snowboarding. I don’t understand why the resorts are so concerned about this as I have never heard of an accident involving a skier and a skinner or snowshoer. I do think uphill is a revenue opprotunity for the resorts. Last winter, when ski conditions here were pretty crappy, I often preferred to skin uphill and then visit one of the on-mountain restaurants. If I hadn’t been doing this I wounldn’t have visited the resort and spent a dime. I’m in favor of having reasonable designated day-time uphill routes, but I don’t think night-time use should be restricted beyond some rational requirements to stay away from grooming and snowmaking ops. As for charing for uphill access, I don’t like the smell of it, but the reason most of us are using the resort to uphill is to take advantage of cut trails and groomed snow, and I recognize that these things do have costs. It seems like the gear makers should start to present some suggestions to the resorts and USFS on how to manage this – the manufacturers have a big stake in this as resort uphilling could really drive gear sales to people who might not make the leap into true BC skiing.

  17. Troy December 6th, 2012 12:28 pm

    CBMR asks that all uphill users get an uphill pass because it is their way of insuring that everybody knows the rules. I believe we even sign off on it. The most critical part being staying on the proper route during early morning avalanche control. It is waayy cool that they let us climb up while they do control work on adjacent terrain. There are definite rewards to climbing the resort on those days.

    In prior years they would give out, for free, a plastic pass (just like the season passes) complete with your name on it. I heard last season there were several hundred of these given out. Eventually there is a material and employee cost to handing these things out. Since only non-regular passholders might be asked to pay, I have no problems with this at all. Whatever small fee they want to charge will certainly not be some great ‘revenue stream’. Plus, the hikers get to enjoy beating the paying crowd to untouched cord or even fresh tracks, in an avy safe area. That ought to be worth something.

    I think the other ideas proposed above sound just fine. skinning up during the day would be killer(and warmer!). I’ve got a stack of season passes going back to ’94, and I love the quiet time on the hill in the early mornings.

    And yes, there are a few self-entitled ultra-local fit super-geezers that need to keep better track of their dogs out there!

  18. Jaf December 6th, 2012 12:49 pm

    Lou – Great idea bringing up this topic for discussion. I live in CB and appreciate the current uphill use policy CBMR has, the revisions seem to be aimed at enhancing the user experience and safety aspects (agree with the dog comment from Troy). I have a season pass so the proposed fee doesn’t affect me. It’s good to see the resort reaching out to the community for input before rolling a new policy out.

  19. Jake December 6th, 2012 1:04 pm

    As a frequent user of CBMR ski trails for uphill skiing, I don’t see any downsides to the proposal. Skinning up groomed trails after parking your car in a plowed lot (or riding a free bus) is a luxury, not a right. CBMR has been generous over the years with their uphill policy including during avalanche control mornings. There are real costs (and risks) associated with providing the benefits of a safe, groomed, uphill ski experience. I think is is perfectly reasonable to extend access to current pass holders and charge a small fee to non-pass holders.

    So much for the “vociferous local.” I think they are on the right track.

    PS: I do feel bad for the cat drivers who get their fresh corduroy shredded before the lifts open, the snow making staff that are dodging dogs on their snowmobiles and the ski patrollers that are worried about blowing a guy in carbon boots and a uni-tard to pieces.

  20. Dan December 6th, 2012 1:27 pm

    OK. So now you are proposing to charge to go uphill? I suppose if you can sell ice to eskimos… While all of your comments above seem somewhat rational, i.e. a plowed parking lot and a groomed run must be worth something, there is a real problem here, one in which CBMR is perpetually mired in. They propose this fee, which is a few bucks. Not enough to generate any real revenue, but enough to piss off the visitor when they feel nickled and dimed. And believe me…they will. Instead of having it there for the visitor as part of the overall experience, they want a fee…to climb uphill. Really folks, for a ski area struggling to maintain visitor days, do you really want to get 5 more dollars from a guy who just spent 150 to 250 on a hotel room. They drove a long way to get to CB….now DON”T GO PISS THEM OFF. Make it inviting, not frustrating. Sure, rent them gear at the base, make your money that way, but for god’s sake CBMR, give them a reason to feel psyched about their experience and forgo the nickel and dining. If you need the cash that bad (what? a few hundred, a few thousand?) you are in trouble. Build the whole experience, don’t charge for a bus ride…and don’t charge for hiking uphill. Good lord, just another reason not to return and go to Aspen, where the uphill has always been encouraged in a friendly way, making for a better overall experience.

  21. Halsted December 6th, 2012 2:08 pm

    I agree with Jake. CBMR is just following what the other ski areas are doing, and being reasonable about it too…

  22. Daniel Dunn December 6th, 2012 2:32 pm

    I really like Troy’s well thought out comments above. At first, I was all “no way, I won’t pay a penny, they’re raping us already!” But after reading comments here and actually thinking just for a second, if there was an uphill policy and daytime route in place, I would gladly pay $20 for some sort of admin type fee.
    Jake, some of those guys are my friends. I think they’re the ones being responsible, but still, carbon boots and race one-pieces definitely describe some of my good buddies, and they do a lot for the CB community, and beyond.
    Good work as always Lou.

  23. Lou Dawson December 6th, 2012 3:11 pm

    This is cool you guys. I really appreciate the positive vibe, as I agree it sounds overall like some good stuff.

    The dream is an all-day and EVENING access uphill route to a beautiful on-mountain restaurant, where they have an “uphillers special” on a few key carb items. (grin)

  24. Jack December 6th, 2012 3:45 pm

    Hey, I’m geographically remote, but this policy in the making seems to have a lot going for it.

    In the Northeast, Magic Mt. in Vermont has a “skin free anytime, but be sensible” policy. I’ve heard that Sugarloaf in Maine has a look the other way unofficial policy re: skinning up and skiing down in the inbounds sidecountry called Brackett Basin. Lots of locals do it, absent an official policy.

    I think that the early snowboarding analogy is valid and AT is going to look like just another mode for a lot of resorts.

  25. OMR December 6th, 2012 3:50 pm

    Why should I care about skinning up groomers? That’s almost as bad as skinning Grizzly Gulch, Silver Fk, or Cardiff. Yeah, the Tri-canyons of the Wasatch are way over-used, while areas outside the Tri’s are mostly untouched. Are BC skiers lemmings or what??? As for dogs, at least they don’t piss in the middle of the skin track.

  26. Pete Anzalone December 6th, 2012 10:09 pm

    I hate to say it, but better that the ski companies exercise a modicum of control and create some parameters before an accident (and law suit) jeopardize this healthful and enjoyable activity for everybody.

    As for revenue streams, if the ski area restaurants added a host of fine Austrian-style pastries, I have no doubt Wild Snowers would beat a skin track to their doors (particularly our blog host).

  27. Shredgar December 6th, 2012 10:47 pm

    Here is the Brighton uphill policy w/mountain & parking maps, very cool:


  28. Lou Dawson December 7th, 2012 5:48 am

    Dan makes a good point, but it seems to me that by including uphilling in the ski tickets and season passes, that will eliminate most of the “nickle and diming” aspect of charging. Even so, I’ve felt for a long time that resorts can make money off uphillers simply by directing them to on-mountain food service, and promoting after hours use of such by doing events. Common stuff in Europe, but a stunning intellectual leap for places like Aspen, where they niggle and natter about whether the resort can even open up a restaurant at night.

  29. Daniel Rubinoff December 7th, 2012 7:22 am

    I see your point, guys. There is opportunity there. I was speaking from a standpoint that CBMR has been traditionally slower than other resorts in figuring out how to get visitors to return and create a solid profit. When I skinned up the mountain in CBMR, I often had breakfast at the base as part of the routine. I see visitors in Aspen snowshoeing up and having lunch on the mountain. Most likely spending from 50 to 100 bucks to rent gear and eat food. My point is charging for the actual climbing is discouraging and making it free and enticing is encouraging. There is a choice, and I guess we’ll see what brings people back time after time to spend greater money than the initial ticket they would buy in the first place. Good dialogue.

  30. Lou Dawson December 7th, 2012 8:08 am

    Daniel, exactly, I’m tending to think the same thing. Charging seems kind of ridiculous, like charging for using the toilet (bad analogy, I know, but in a way it makes the point.) For example, at Ski Sunlight near here in Colorado you’re supposed to have an uphilling pass, but it’s free. That’s a good system. They attract users who buy stuff in cafeteria. They don’t scare anyone off or create inconvenience. Why Sunlight has never built a cool top-of-mountain restaurant is one of the 7 mysteries of the universe. But if they ever did it, what a cool thing for both skiers and uphillers. Their mountain top location is simply beautiful.

  31. Daniel Rubinoff December 7th, 2012 8:14 am

    Interesting, Lou. I climbed Sunlight for the first time last year in the middle of the day. GREAT experience, nice people. My friend and I went to the base bar after the climb and spent probably 30 bucks and tipped the waitress. This is a perfect example. I’m sure I wouldn’t have done it if I had to pay to climb. Its just the spirit of it. I’d go back in heartbeat. On a side note, my friend Dave Rothman has been telling me for years I gotta ski with you sometime. See you on the skin track.

  32. Lou Dawson December 7th, 2012 8:15 am

    I’d also like to play devil’s advocate on this charging for use issue. Regarding human nature, when you charge for something it tends to actually make people feel more “ownership” of whatever it is, and they take it more seriously, are better stewards, may even enjoy it more, etc. Charging for uphilling also allows the resort a method of tracking use and gives them incentive for providing things like true designated routes in areas away from the downhill runs. That’s one of my dreams, to see them actually created designated uphill routes that are truly ski tours on skin tracks in aesthetic forest and timber, rather then just walking up the groom.

  33. XXX_er December 7th, 2012 8:36 am

    “at Ski Sunlight near here in Colorado you’re supposed to have an uphilling pass, but it’s free”

    is that not to cover their butts for insurance purposes if the user has a ticket with the blurb on the back which nobody reads, when the user obtains the pass they are made aware of any guidelines so this is a good idea IMO

    Somebody at the local hill is always on about insurance but apparently the insurance company doesn’t care

  34. Matt Kinney December 7th, 2012 8:56 am

    In Valdez we started letting helicopter use the terrain for free years ago. Now we opened up a bunch of stuff for sleds and now we have little left.

    Give an inch, they’ll take mile. Beware of resort skinners!

  35. Lou Dawson December 7th, 2012 8:57 am

    Yes Matt, be afraid, very afraid (grin).

  36. Rich December 7th, 2012 9:43 am

    This is pretty cool to see – especially the engagement with everyone by CBMR.

    Meanwhle, over here in Europe it seems that quite a few places allow uphill traffic. I cant speak specifically what the policy is in each, but Ive seen people uphilling during the day time (while the lifts are running) at Courchevel, Zermatt, Verbier, Cervinia, Les Houches and just a couple of weeks ago in HIntertux.

    You can even buy a single use pass in some places to get you up several gondola stages as well.

    Would be interesting to see North American resorts adopt a similar approach

  37. Lou Dawson December 8th, 2012 10:27 am

    Pete, indeed SKI FOR STRUDDLE!

  38. Brendan January 5th, 2013 1:06 am

    Loveland Ski Area has a very reasonable policy, that they have formally established over the last two years. “All uphill access at Loveland Basin requires useres to have a current Uphill Access Card avaliable at no charge.”

    To obtain the Access Card you sign a liability waiver.

    They have two designated routes for uphill users.

    The ski area determines when access for uphill users is allowed. They do not allow uphillers to access terrain that is not open due to conditions, snowmaking, grooming, and snow safety considerations. Usually in the early season, you can’t uphill until snowmaking has stopped and a terrain on the designated routes has been opened for skiing to the public.

    Dogs under voice command are allowed before and after operating hours at Loveland.

    Here is the link to the Loveland Ski Area policy… http://skiloveland.com/themountain/uphillaccess.aspx

    Good luck CB in developing your policy!

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