“Confident the lifts will be spinning as planned”
By Alissa Johnson
Don’t let the open single-track and “late fall” mountain bike rides fool you. Thanksgiving is around the corner, winter is nigh, and the lifts will start spinning at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) on Wednesday, November 23 for the inaugural Donation Day. In preparation, snowmaking crews have been making the best of the weather conditions, and skiers and riders can expect some new amenities and opening-week traditions.
“CBMR is incredibly excited to begin our 55th winter! We look forward to locals and visitors alike joining us as we kick off the season next week. We are optimistic that the change in weather late this week is going to kick off winter as we know it in Crested Butte,” Erica Rasmussen, CBMR’s senior marketing manager, said.
Snowmakers have been looking for every opportunity to make snow, and a shift in the temperatures this Thursday, with some snow predicted, will also help.
“Our hard working snowmakers are going to keep making as much snow as we can as temperatures permit. Given the current forecast and our snowmaking abilities, we are confident the lifts will be spinning as planned next Wednesday, November 23 for Donation Day,” Rasmussen continued.
Opening week will look a bit different this year, as the lifts will start spinning on Wednesday for Donation Day. Skiers and riders—pass holders included—will be asked to pay $15 for a lift ticket (kids six and under are free), with all proceeds benefiting the Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation (CBSF), which provides financial support for Gunnison Valley youth to pursue snow sports. And while CBSF’s executive director Kate King credits CBMR with the idea for Donation Day, she says the foundation was quick to jump on board.
“We were thrilled when the folks at CBMR came to us in the early stages of discussion and asked us to weigh in. Of course from the start we realized how much of a positive impact the day would be for the foundation. It was all hands on deck from the minute they said ‘go!’” King said.
King explained that the idea has been implemented at other resorts, and foundations similar to CBSF have been known to raise tens of thousands of dollars. “The opportunity we have with Donation Day, and with the support of the community is stellar,” King said.
Over the last five years, CBSF has given $150,000 in scholarships, and the funds from Donation Day will help increase giving through scholarships and program grants. According to a press release from CBSF, the inaugural year of the program comes at a great deal—lift tickets for a similar program at Telluride Ski Resort are $25.
Organizers are hoping that the Gunnison Valley will turn out in force and in true Crested Butte fashion, with costumes and a whole lot of excitement for the winter season. And of course, the resort’s opening day on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24, will be special, too.
According to Rasmussen, CBMR will be honoring the late Dick Eflin, who passed away this year. “Fifty-five Thanksgivings ago was the first day of operations for his dream of opening a ski resort in Crested Butte. We appreciate all that Dick did to make this place a reality,” Rasmussen said.
To honor Eflin, CBMR will host a champagne toast along with complimentary beignets at 9 a.m. in the base area. The annual first chair will go to members of Eflin’s family, and there will be a lunchtime celebration from noon to 2 p.m. at Butte 66 with live music by Justin Howard.
Pass holders and regular visitors will notice a few new amenities and offerings around the mountain as well as the season gets going. According to Rasmussen, “Our new base area hot spot will be Coal Breaker Coffee in the Treasury Center Building, serving up handmade crepes, breakfast sandwiches, espresso, coffee drinks and ice cream.” There will also be day lockers and expanded seating.
And once the snow starts dumping, powder days return and the Paradise Lift starts running, skiers and snowboarders will also find a noted improvement at the Paradise Warming House.
As the CBMR press release stated, “Looking for an upgraded experience, but burned by restrooms in the past, guests at Crested Butte can leave their wounded hearts behind and take another shot at finding love. The new Bathrooms in Paradise are more spacious, with light-colored finishes, new granite countertops and alder trim. The entryway features new seating (perfect for adjusting boots or simply relaxing) and a new hydration station. The pursuit of happily-ever-after just got a whole lot easier.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
Also new to the base area is a quarter-million-dollar state-of-the-art Montana Crystal Glide Finish automated tuning machine. “It’s not just for alpine skis. There are over 1,000 different patterns, and it’s pretty incredible for people with a fleet of skis,” Rasmussen said.
She noted that many people with fleets of skis have been sending them out of the valley for such sophisticated tuning, and now they’ll be able to have their equipment taken care of at their home resort. Skiers can check it out at the rental and demo center downstairs in the Treasury Center, where there’s a window to watch the process as it happens.
And last, but not least, CBMR will be offering a new, regular ski clinic, Women’s Tips on Tuesdays. It’s a half-day women’s-specific ski school session led by CBMR’s top female pros, and concludes with a glass of wine at the Umbrella Bar. Sessions run from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. for $65.
So, as Donation Day and Opening Day approach, and energy builds at the base area, there is just one thing left to get the season started right: send a few prayers to Ullr, the snow gods, Mother Nature or whomever you believe responsible for those epic powder stashes.
“It’s been a little while since we’ve had a really big snow year, and the optimists in us can’t help but hope to see another big year this year! As many people are saying, 2007-08 started out similar to this year, so hopefully the weather pattern of that incredible season will repeat itself,” Rasmussen said.