CBMR pushes to open Extremes despite rumor of “holding back”

“The snowpack is overall on a trend toward stability”

Over the past three weeks there’s been a rumor spreading like wildfire around town—Crested Butte Mountain Resort did not have enough money to open Third Bowl.



Well, that’s just not true. After all, as you read this, Third Bowl is open and getting skied heavily.
The resort’s easternmost section of the Extreme Limits is a hike-in, hike-out section of terrain that features steep slopes interspersed with large rocky “pillows” and names like Moosehead, Hamburger Rock and Mario Land.
CBMR chief operating officer Ken Stone says that for some time now the resort has been hearing from skiers concerned the terrain wasn’t going to open. “We see it in the surveys. Some people feel we’re holding back terrain for financial reasons,” Stone says. His response to those concerns is, “No. We’re making smart decisions in the company based on demands. For instance, certain lifts aren’t running on certain days.”
Answering to rumors about the resort cutting back on ski patrol, Stone says, “No. Our ski patrol numbers are just as high. We would never sacrifice for safety.” Stone also says the resort’s budget for avalanche control explosives is much higher than last season.
Third Bowl opened for skiers and snowboarders at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, February 3.
Stone says the resort did aim to open the Extreme Limits on the far west side of the mountain, including Sunset Ridge and Funnel, first. “It’s skied by more people, quite frankly, and it’s easier to access. So our decision was to go there first rather than Third Bowl,” Stone says.
He admits that some of the terrain openings have taken longer this season compared to last season due to an unusually high avalanche danger in the snowpack this year, coupled with terrain that’s challenging to navigate.
CBMR snow safety director Frank Coffey says Third Bowl and the West Side usually open around the same time in a given season, but due to the tricky snowpack this year patrol has been taking things one step at a time.
Coffey says the patrol is still concerned about a persistent weak layer at the base of the snowpack. But over the past few weeks, he says, the snowpack has been improving across the mountain. “We haven’t been producing avalanches down to that basal layer. That’s a good thing. The snowpack is overall on a trend toward stability,” Coffey says.
With Third Bowl ready to go, the resort has approximately 99 percent of its terrain open. The only thing left to open is the Peak, which involves a short climb to 12,162 feet, and the ability to ski almost 3,000 vertical feet back to the base area. Coffey says the Peak should open sometime next week.

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