North Face terrain still questionable
By Aimee Eaton
With less than a month and a half remaining in Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s ski season, the High Lift finally spun this week, opening at least a sliver of the ski area’s extreme terrain.
On Wednesday at mid-day, ski patrol and mountain operations opened the Headwall and Teo Bowl to skiers and riders.
According to CBMR senior marketing manager Erica Rasmussen, the resort has been receiving pressure from locals and visitors alike to open the “extremes,” however, safety is always the first priority.
“With about three feet of snow in the past couple of weeks it has put us in a better position,” said Rasmussen. “After a season like last year, the extremes ‘playground’ was much more accessible earlier in the season. This year, we’ve had to be a bit more patient for an opening. To match the pent-up demand, CBMR also places pressure on itself to be able to open terrain as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
CBMR ski patrol reiterates the need for caution with the recent openings. Ski patrol director Bill Dowell said skiers and riders should anticipate variable conditions and some low coverage, especially in areas prone to wind exposure.
Mountain operations also reminds everyone using the mountain that all ropes and closure signs need to be observed.
“We’ve had a couple tracks leading into closed areas recently and want to remind everyone that we close areas for a reason and entering closed areas is extremely dangerous,” said Rasmussen. “It could not only lead to injury or fatality for the skier or rider, but it’s also a safety concern for the ski patrol, other rescuers, other skiers and riders.”
CBMR hopes the opening of new terrain will increase visitation from outside the area and reinvigorate locals to get out on the mountain.
“We have some ground to make up in March, and we are hopeful that a combination of snow and terrain messaging will help us finish out the season the best we can,” said Rasmussen.
Future openings on the resort remain uncertain, as Dowell said the snowpack and conditions remain incredibly variable and in some areas very weak. The opening of the North Face Lift and the front side extremes are next on CBMR’s priority list, but there is no firm timeline for that to happen.
“We are finally to the point where patrol can start moving around in those areas,” said Rasmussen “There is incredibly weak and variable snow in this unopened area. Overall, the Glades are a bit more protected than the North Face itself, but there’s no present prediction on a timeline due to the variables involved with getting that area open.”
According to Dowell, “Wind has not been our friend in the North Face and the extremely weak snowpack structure this year has produced persistent weak layers throughout the snowpack.”
“There has been difficulty moving safely through these areas with the avalanche and ground hazard concerns,” added Rasmussen. “Therefore, while additional extreme terrain opening is something everyone would like to see, safety is of primary importance as we work to open additional terrain.”
For a full report on openings, visit skicb.com.