In stressed out times the local rumor mill clicks into even higher gear than normal—and it is always running pretty much full throttle. Whether it is rumors about the Forest Service closing the nearby backcountry (not true), to the rumor that an unnamed Crested Butte mayor is actually the spawn of a rogue Sasquatch from the hills of Schofield and a mining camp ingénue (still investigating that one) to the perennial rumor that Vail is buying the ski area—there is always something floating around out there…and seriously? That Vail rumor has been around for literally decades and okay, a few years ago it stumbled into being (true). There are definitely National Enquirer feelings to some of the rumors circulating around the valley. Let’s take a look at some of them and we’ll share what we learned from those in the know…
Rumor: The overwhelming number of inquiries from people thinking about moving here for the school year and sending their kid to the Crested Butte or Gunnison classrooms has tapped out the Gunnison Watershed School District facilities and we can now charge kids like a high-end private school. If true, you could show up opening week and watch the current Range Rovers being driven by local high schoolers morph into Lamborghinis. But it’s not true.
Re1J school superintendent Dr. Leslie Nichols made it clear any student is welcome to attend classes in the district. “We are not and will never close enrollment to any child at any school in this district ever,” she stated. “We are a public school district. When kids show up, we educate them, period.”
Rumor: Ski area openings. Less clear than the school district statement is the ski area response to the latest rumors. But being fair, winter is a long way off. The latest Crested Butte Mountain Resort rumor is that to save money and focus resources, CBMR will not open the Extreme Limits terrain and if you want to ski, you’ll have to have a reservation to get on the Queen. That could make it tough for those without accurate long-range winter storm forecasts on their phones. Joel Gratz and OpenSnow might think about raising its price for the “week in advance powder prognostication” feature.
Anyway, CBMR spokesperson Will Shoemaker responded to the rumors. On the no Extreme Limits terrain this year, he said: “We’re looking forward to the upcoming ski and ride season. In everything we do, we will prioritize the safety of our employees, guests and communities, while also working to ensure our guests have an incredible experience at our resorts. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are committed to the highest safety standards and will adapt our protocols, procedures and offerings as required to ensure that we provide a safe and enjoyable experience to all our guests. We appreciate everyone’s patience and will communicate regularly in the lead up to the 2020-21 winter ski and ride season.”
That’s what I would call a little less definitive than Leslie’s response. But it is still many months out until the ski season starts and, given how fast everything is changing, there is no way to expect an absolute answer right now.
On the need for reservations to ride the chairlift, Will said, “We are looking into many scenarios and actively planning and preparing to ensure we keep our guests safe this season. We will follow up with more details in the lead up to the season.” I’ll take that as a maybe.
Knowing that CBMR general manager Tim Baker loves Third Bowl, I asked about the rumor (that I just started) that Third Bowl could be a priority of any terrain openings. Shoemaker didn’t dismiss that out of hand and I could live with Third Bowl laps. He said, “While we will always prioritize safety, our goal is to preserve the guest experience as much as possible and open as much terrain as possible.”
Rumor: High school sports are being cancelled. Uhhhh—sort of. Word came from the Colorado High School Activities Association Tuesday that cross country and golf can happen starting this month, while boys soccer and girls volleyball will shift to the spring. Hockey and basketball are still slated to start in January. No one knows what Titan soccer coach Than Acuff will do with his time this fall but I would anticipate the occasional two-a-day where he is seen on the practice field kicking balls and talking to no one in particular—sort of a normal September day.
Rumor: The town of Crested Butte will paint Elk Avenue with a BLM theme once the one-way realignment ends. That is a maybe at the moment. There are some council members who are floating the idea of giving Elk Ave. a Black Lives Matter coat of paint by the end of summer. Looking forward, the suggestion is that perhaps the street can be used as a big billboard to promote other issues like climate change, women’s rights or mental health awareness. I can recall Elk being painted (blue) only one time before and it really brought the community together in unified solidarity. I look forward to hearing the reactions. A work session on the issue is tentatively scheduled for August 17.
For whatever reason, rumors in this town are part of the base culture. Most are not true until they are (see: Vail buys ski resort). All we can do is keep an eye on it all and keep asking questions. And even then, who knows what the end result will be. Did you hear that…?