Be where you are…

“Walk like a penguin.” 

That was the advice offered to me last week by Christine through a chuckle in a French accent as she was heading across town to the grocery store with a ski pole for stability while…walking like a penguin. The recent snows have left many of the streets once covered in snow now caked in ice. There are various degrees of slipperiness with high altitude ice but newbies to Crested Butte should quickly adapt the penguin shuffle, especially in certain places of town such as the Post Office and most side street intersections.

Monday was a holiday and after not getting much response after sending some emails and leaving a few voicemails, I took a quick trip up to the ski area. CBMR opened a ton of the Extreme Limits terrain in the last week and the coverage is phenomenal. There are places normally pretty sketchy that were covered in 99 inches of new snow after a two-week storm. The North Face Lift is providing access over to Phoenix Bowl and those that got in early were provided another treat of deep snow in a ski area. It is pretty fantastic up there right now.

The High Lift remains idle as staffing shortages limit the number of lifts spinning each day. Don’t tell anyone but the hike to midway is about seven minutes (for an old guy) and the snow is great and not bumped out.

CBMR’s corporate owner, Vail Resorts, this week implemented a $2/hour bonus raise for the rest of the year for employees who finish out the season. The Broomfield office heard a lot of negative feedback about its current situation and the executives pivoted and took action to reward those employees who stick with the company. They apparently realized that while the minimum $15/hour touted as a big investment might sound good on the Front Range, it was on the lower end of the pay scale in any resort community where retail, restaurants and the trades were all vying for any workers and wages were enticing job changes. So, kudos to the Broomfield executive suite for not studying the situation for months before considering a new policy for future ski seasons but immediately helping the pocketbook of the workers who hopefully will keep the NFL running and perhaps even get the High Lift spinning.

Crested Butte South’s POA — basically its town council if it was a town — took the unusual step to throw out results of its recent election stating there were too many questions lingering over process and transparency when the voting was taking place last fall. A group of local residents didn’t like how the results smelled so they dug in hard to investigate how the vote was conducted and they raised enough valid issues over process for the POA board to question it as well. The active citizens didn’t all cast the same vote on the issues so it doesn’t appear a case of sour grapes over results, but they all wanted to make sure the election was conducted in a fair and tight manner. Given past practices and conflicting protocols, it apparently wasn’t. The board says there was nothing nefarious, but their legal eagles suggested it should be re-done…so it will. There will be a new vote with likely a new path with very transparent goals and a more rigorous process. In this time of constantly questioning election results, being willing to start over when there are legitimate questions and failings is a big step. 

The Crested Butte town council on Tuesday set in motion the look for Elk Avenue that will be in place for this coming summer and next. There will be outside dining and two-way traffic to help take some pressure off the nearby side streets. Council heard a lot of feedback from businesses and local residents and settled on a compromise that kept the popular element of outside restaurant seating and addressed concerns over clogging up the town’s main artery. With a possible bigger picture upgrade in the future for the area given the transition of the fire protection district from Third and Maroon to the Slate River subdivision, the latest compromise is another experiment to see how things might evolve when perhaps there are some dedicated pedestrian areas in the center of the business district and who knows what else could emerge. 

On Monday when I took the late afternoon trip to do a couple quick laps on the ski hill I ventured over to the West Side because I heard the Funnel was skiing amazing. I chose the middle entrance to Flatiron which was better than the upper entrance but not my best choice of the day. It was rocky and rolley and the consequences of catching an edge on a rock looked pretty severe. But I got through and over to the top of Funnel and it appeared that at 2:45 I might have been one of the first to ski it that day. And the report was correct – Funnel was fantastic in the late afternoon sun — so thanks to the CBMR ski patrol for getting that steep treasure open.

What a treat to get out on a Monday. I headed back to the office to see if anyone had responded to my inquiries. I parked and was thinking about the Funnel when my feet suddenly were perpendicular to the street and I landed on my hip and elbow in a pile on top of the ice. I hadn’t walked like a penguin and paid the price. It hurt and was a tad embarrassing.

The lesson? Be where you are and let the Universe flow.

Getting into Funnel was more dangerous than walking on the street but while it was “interesting,” navigating snow and rock on a bit of a cliffy drop-off, it was relatively easy when I was in the moment. VR saw the current worker situation and gave employees a raise immediately. The CB South POA saw legitimate concerns with its recent election, admitted it, and will do a better job with a re-do. The CB council didn’t think (too much) about how to solve a problem three or four years in the future but addressed the issue as it is today.

For me, I’ll walk like a penguin on the streets until the ice is gone. Lesson learned.

Be where you are and let the Universe flow.

—Mark Reaman

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