“He was always interested in the weather patterns, so that he could be prepared to enjoy the next snowfall”
When you live in the mountains, weather dictates everything. Especially during winter. In the north end of the valley, we are fortunate to have weather stations strategically positioned from Irwin to Schofield Park, and area-specific forecasts are available on the Crested Butte Avalanche Center’s website. And now, thanks to the family of local Dan Krajewski, there is a new weather station located at 11,000 feet at Elkton that provides crucial data for backcountry travelers and avalanche forecasters.
Krajewski, an avid telemark and backcountry skier, and a manager at Crested Butte’s Last Steep, died in a motorcycle accident on Highway 135 in May 2009. His family wanted to build a memorial to Dan, something that would have a lasting, positive impact. In addition to contributing to Crested Butte Search and Rescue, the Krajewski family donated to the Crested Butte Avalanche Center, enabling them to build the new weather station.
A little more about Dan and how he came to Crested Butte: According to his mother, Marcia Krajewski, “Dan was born and raised in Connecticut. Our family chose to spend a winter vacation in Breckenridge when Dan was a young man and it was love at first sight. The University of Colorado at Boulder was his first choice for continuing his education and upon arrival in Boulder, Dan was hooked. He found his true home in the vast expanses and rugged beauty of Colorado.
“An expert telemark skier, his greatest joy was challenging himself on the spectacular heights of the Rocky Mountains. After spending a few years in Steamboat, he moved to Crested Butte, which offered him a small-town simple lifestyle where everyone was welcome and became part of a large family.”
“He found others who shared his passion for living life to its fullest by competing in various competitions [like the Telemark Extremes, where he won the 2009 Sickbird Award], or nourishing his adventurous spirit enjoying the beauty of the mountains, either hiking, skiing, or snowmobiling.”
When asked why her family chose to support the CBAC and local search and rescue, Krajewski said, “When Dan was tragically killed in May 2009, we wanted to direct our family and friends to donate to organizations that represented his passions and causes. As a result of this directive, CBAC was one of the organizations who received a generous boost to their fundraising initiative. Crested Butte Search and Rescue was also a recipient of generous donations. Our request was that the funds not be absorbed by the regular daily operations but designated in such a way that a lasting memorial to Dan would commence. Alan Bernholtz of CBAC worked closely with me and mentioned the dream of a weather station. Our family became very excited at the prospect of such a lasting tribute to Dan and chose to fund the balance of the project in Dan’s memory.”
Dan K’s weather station collects data on a variety of environmental conditions, including wind, temperature, and snowfall. CBAC director Reid Templeton said of the new station, “It was sort of the missing link, you could say. With Irwin, Elkton, Snodgrass, CBMR, and Mexican Hat, all these excellent data points ‘seals the deal’ on weather [forecasting] at this end of the valley.”
Marcia Krajewski explained how Dan became so passionate about avalanche safety and education. “Dan lost a close friend in an avalanche in Steamboat a few years ago, and since that tragedy he became dedicated to educating and assisting others to safely enjoy the wilderness. In 2008, Dan traveled to Alaska to take part in a wilderness first aid and rescue training program and became certified as a heli guide. He was always interested in the weather patterns, so that he could be prepared to enjoy the next snowfall.
“Knowing the history of the previous storms, wind velocity, and daily high temperatures between snowfalls should assist others in understanding the snowpack which is important to safety when exploring the backcountry,” Mrs. Krajewski continued.
CBAC founder Alan Bernholtz said the new station does just that, and more. “I think it’s a huge asset to the backcountry community… to know what’s happening out there. This area is blessed to have so much real-time weather info able to be accessed for free.”
The Krajewski family isn’t looking for anything in return for their contributions, other than honoring the spirit of Dan and all that he loved about this town and the surrounding mountains. Marcia said, “My hope is that anyone who accesses the weather station in preparation of exploring the backcountry will think of Dan, his passion for nature, and carry his memory to this area of Crested Butte which he so dearly loved.”