Phoenix, Spellbound, and the Funnel won’t open this year
With a little more than two weeks left to the ski season, there’s been a lot of speculation about Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) around town and in regional and national news. If lease-holder CNL Lifestyles sells its properties, including CBMR, what does it mean locally? (Not much.) Will the resort participate in the Rocky Mountain Super Pass+ next winter? (Yes.) And what about the extremes? Will Phoenix, Spellbound, and the Funnel ever open? (Not this year.) Read on for details:
Possible lease sale
CBMR has been making headlines across the nation this week as media picked up on the potential sale of the resort by CNL Lifestyles. CNL is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that acquired real estate assets from the Mueller family in 2008, including CBMR and the family’s two other resorts, Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont and Mount Sunapee Resort in New Hampshire.
According to a statement provided by director of innovations and relations Erica Mueller, “This will have no impact on ski area operations or management and the business will run as it always has. The Mueller family owns the operating companies for each of these areas and holds a long-term lease [with CNL Lifestyles] that will not be affected should there be a sale.”
By law, REITs must have an exit strategy for investors to get their investment back every 10 years. “The Mueller family has been involved in these conversations every step of the way so when there is news to report, we will keep you abreast. However, we do want to reassure you that impacts to the three areas will not be seen or felt by our guests,” the statement read.
Continuing the Rocky Mountain Super Pass+
Guests will, however, notice the continued impacts of CBMR’s involvement in the Rocky Mountain Super Pass+ program for the 2015-2016 ski season. The resort participated in it for the first time this season and saw higher than anticipated participation from pass holders visiting Crested Butte for three free days of skiing at the resort.
“We have given out several thousand tickets to Rocky Mountain Super Pass+ holders. We also know that a majority of these visits were first-time skiers to Crested Butte, which is really exciting and our goal getting involved in the program—to get people to Crested Butte who have never experienced it before or haven’t been in a long time. Clearly, that worked,” Mueller told the Crested Butte News.
Though there was originally talk of including blackout dates over President’s Day Weekend during the second year of the program (a time when skier visits topped 6,000 skiers per day this year), there will be no blackout dates. And as part of CBMR’s participation in the program, the resort’s Peak Pass Plus holders will continue to get three days of free skiing. This year they had one day each at Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, and Steamboat. But during the 2015-2016 ski season, Peak Pass Plus holders will be able to use them in any combination they wish.
“We found from this year that parents of the Mountain Sports Team would go to a race and only be able to use one ticket at a time,” Mueller said. Now, Peak Pass Plus holders can choose whatever combination works best for them.
Area business owners are excited to see the program return as well. Mike Nolan, owner of the Elk Mountain Lodge, said he didn’t keep track of Super Pass-specific guests but saw a noticeable increase over last year. “We are up about 15 percent from last winter and I know a lot of them are Super Pass guests,” Nolan said.
Mueller expects the program to grow next season, saying, “We saw more people than we had anticipated, which was a good benefit for all of us. We had some really heavy days, and we could probably expect to see even more next year. In year two, people tend to utilize a bit more.”
Phoenix, Spellbound and the Funnel will stay closed
Though some Extremes skiers and riders will be disappointed to hear it, CBMR has made the decision not to open the Phoenix/Spellbound and Funnel areas of the Extremes this winter. Ultimately, according to Mueller, it came down to safety.
Above-normal temperatures, sun exposure on eastern and western faces, the lack of skier compaction in the areas, and the risk of avalanches were all cited in making the decision.
“All of these zones have had little to no skier compaction throughout the season, thus making them even more susceptible to solar and thermal effect. We have already had to close some areas of the mountain early based on the snowpack becoming ‘isothermal’ and losing all strength, unable to support the weight of a skier and collapsing to the ground, and as the days become increasingly warmer,” the CBMR statement read.
As the season continues, check the Extremes boards for the latest on what’s open and what’s closed. And don’t forget that there will be plenty of fun on the mountain and in the base area this weekend.
The annual Skitown Breakdown is this Saturday, in the Lodge at Mountaineer Square Ballroom. Music starts at 3:30 p.m. with local artist Just How, followed by Brad Corrigan from Dispatch at 4:30 p.m. Switchfoot hits the stage at 6:30 p.m.