There’s 62 acres to pound!
By Kendra Walker
It’s time to tune those skis, dust off the snowboard and practice those squats – ski season is back in Mt. Crested Butte. Crested Butte Mountain Resort opens on Wednesday, November 23 for the 2022/23 season and terrain serviced by the Red Lady Express, Teocalli Lift, Peachtree Lift and Aspen Magic Carpet will be ready for some turns on Opening Day.
“We are so excited to welcome guests back to CBMR next week,” said CBMR communications manager Julie Block. “The winter season will get underway in true Crested Butte style with high-energy fun – including a banner break, free coffee, hot cocoa and muffin bars, prizes, a tutu station and giveaways of an Opening Day poster designed by local company RoShamBo. We’ll also have a special guest on the Butte 66 deck from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – DJ Red, a.k.a. Wendy Fisher.”
As of press time, opening day runs will include Peanut, Skiway, Lower Keystone, Warming House Hill, Houston, Lower Ruby Chief, Upper Conundrum, Augusta, and the Ski and Ride School learning area.
“Thanks to the hard work of our snowmaking team and low early season temperatures, we are excited to offer nearly 62 acres of terrain for guests to enjoy on opening day,” said Block. “Our snowmaking team hit the ground running this season, taking advantage of cold late October temperatures to begin snowmaking operations a week earlier than planned. Their dedication, along with 18 inches of natural snow so far this winter, has provided a great base for our winter season, allowing us to open with a sizeable footprint. We will continue to make snow as conditions allow in order to open more terrain for our guests to enjoy as quickly and safely as possible.”
CBMR’s general manager and vice president Tara Schoedinger added her excitement for the coming season. “Cold temperatures allowed our operations team to begin snowmaking a week earlier than usual this winter, and we are excited to offer a bigger opening footprint than last year with Red Lady, Teocalli, Peachtree and Aspen Carpet. I’m excited to step into a new season, always rooted in what makes Crested Butte Mountain Resort so special, and to continue to find ways to serve this incredible community.”
Uphill access will also begin on Opening Day. The uphill policy will remain the same as last season, with uphill travel permitted before 8:45 a.m. and after 4:30 p.m. During early season, uphill travelers are required to stop at the junction of Peanut and Lower Keystone. Headlamps are required, and dogs are not allowed on the mountain at any time.
Block also noted that CBMR has several upgrades and additions coming to its dining facilities this winter. Rooster Run is a new restaurant adjacent to the Butte 66 dining room that will offer a quick option for dine-in or take-out. Butte 66 will offer full bar service with an expanded menu, live music, happy hour specials every day, and Tap Takeover Tuesdays, showcasing different breweries each week.
Additionally, Woodstone Grille in the Grand Lodge will offer more made-to-order breakfast offerings, healthy menu options and espresso drinks. Coal Breaker Coffee Co. will expand its offerings to include artisan-style sandwiches, pastries, soups and grab-and-go salads and breakfast sandwiches. On the mountain, Uley’s Cabin will continue its classic, American-style menu, adding a Japanese-influenced pop-up concept for an upscale on-mountain dining experience.
Also new this year, lift tickets will be limited every day this season. It is intended to preserve the guest experience, said Block, and the limitation will not impact Epic Pass holders. “Guests planning to visit this winter – whether one day or every day – are encouraged to purchase their lift access in advance – whether it is a lift ticket, Epic Day Pass or season pass,” said Block.
With Mark Voegeli retiring, Steve Duke has been promoted to director of mountain operations. Brian Finney has been named interim patrol director.
Block said that hiring for the winter season is going well so far. “We are feeling good about our staffing numbers this year. An increase in employee housing along with company-wide investments in our team members have helped drive strong staffing levels this season.”
Block did not disclose where the additional employee housing is for privacy purposes, or the number of units added, but did share that it’s a mix of units ranging from Mt. Crested Butte to Gunnison.
In March, Vail Resorts announced a new $20 per hour minimum wage, mental wellness benefits, a 40% retail discount and other new benefits and perks for employees. “Our team members are at the heart of what we do, and we are thrilled to see these investments making a true impact, allowing us to draw more talent to the resort so that we can, in turn, provide an amazing guest experience,” said Block.
Shoedinger also commented on the staffing outlook. “I’m excited that we were able to significantly increase the number of affordable housing options for our employees this season. Last season, staffing challenges prevented us from providing the experience we strive to give our guests, and these investments have helped to significantly improve our staffing levels for this winter despite the ongoing global labor shortage. Our employees are CBMR and we will continue to make investments in the employee experience.”