When I opened up the Crested Butte trail map for the first time in my hotel room I was awestruck. I had never seen so much black on a trail map. Black and double-black diamond runs appeared to occupy more than half of the resort. About one-third of the Crested Butte’s 1,547 acres was, it turned out, was in fact extreme double-black diamond terrain.
“Could this be my dream hill?” I wondered.
It was one of the most hardcore-looking ski resorts I’d ever seen. This was confirmed when two of the locals took me down Rambo, the steepest man-made run in North America, and when we had to skirt around several in-bounds areas that were permanently roped off because they’re simply too steep and extreme to allow public access to them. Crested Butte has called “the last great Colorado ski town” but, although it is a great ski town with all the charm and character that one could desire, I didn’t see any reason to place it above some of the other small out-of-the way ski towns.
Crested Butte certainly surpasses most resorts for ski culture and authenticity, probably because of the hardcore brand of skiers and riders that it attracts.
The other side of that coin is that, while Crested Butte has all the extreme terrain a guy could want, that terrain only receives 300 inches of snow on average annually, which is 200 inches less than some of the other hills we visited. So, while Crested Butte offers some of the most hardcore terrain in the country, fresh tracks are not be as easy to come by as at some other resorts. We arrived at Crested Butte at the wrong time. Crested Butte is a real big mountain rider’s paradise. The north face is a huge area with amazing cliffs, chutes, and steeps. Unfortunately, it had been a few weeks since they’d had a good dump of snow, which is pretty necessary to enjoy that kind of terrain.