1.16.2006

Ski to work

This weekend we took an office trip to Crested Butte to both look at our project and to ski the Butte. Friday my boss and I left in mid morning so that we could take care of the business end of the trip. The project is really coming along, some of the units will be ready for final inspections soon and then they can begin to close as soon as the building gets it certificate of occupancy from the town. The model unit is now furnished, and everything is looking good! Later that evening we met up with a bunch of other people from the office that were coming down for the weekend. We then all went out to dinner with a few former employees that now work in Crested Butte. Saturday we had breakfast and then had a quick site tour with the office before hitting the slopes. We started out easy with a couple of groomed runs before my friend Ryan and I split from the group to tackle some of Crested Butte's famed extreme terrain. We headed up to the North Face and came down the main face there where there is consistently a 35-40 degree slope. The steeps at the Butte are much longer than those at the local resorts, and there is no faking your way down! We convinced a few others from the group to hit the North Face with us for a run, using the argument that the extremes are what the Butte is known for. They did really well, but one run was enough for them. Ryan and I then hit "Rambo", a 40+ degree run, that was really fun, but could have used a little more snow. Negotiating through the top was a little tricky due to some stumps and other debris that hadn't been fully covered in the snow. The bottom of the run had great snow though and the last few turns were some of the most fun on the whole trip. After skiing we relaxed at the hotel for a little bit, then took a quick full moon snowshoe hike with the office. We didn't even need headlamps as the moonlight was enough to illuminate the trail. We then headed out to dinner at one of Crested Butte's institutions, Slogar. The Slogar is a restaurant that basically only serves one thing: Fried Chicken. They do it family style with all the right sides for a nice complete meal.

Sunday it was back to the slopes before heading home, and once again it was Ryan and I hitting the steeps while our co-workers hit the groomers. This time we decided to get a few different areas than just the North Face and started out by hitting the Headwall. Headwall was even steeper, probably more like 45 degrees in some spots. It was a great confidence booster to make it two runs in a row with no falls! The snow there was great, and it was starting to fall from the sky as well. We then treked over to the Outer Limits, starting out with Spellbound Bowl, before migrating to Phoenix Bowl below. This area had some really extreme terrain around us, but also has a nice open face down the middle. Sticking to the middle is still no picnic as it is 40 degrees the whole way down, but some of the tree chutes nearby have cliff sections that require a minimum of 20 feet of air! We avoided those spots, but did hit a chute that approached 50 degrees. The cover was a little thin and I even had to side step over a couple of rocks in the middle. The run then opened up again before the traverse back to the main mountain. There was still one area we needed to explore, the main peak. The signature runs (Banana Chute and Banana Funnel) were closed still, but we were able to ski their neighbors, Peel and Forest. Just like all the other double blacks at Crested Butte, these were steep runs that require your full attention. The snow was good, but in a couple of areas got windpacked. There was a nice gladed section through the aspen trees at the bottom before a traverse back to the base. Crested Butte was a fun place to ski, and definitely lived up to its reputation. These are true double black diamond runs: variable terrain, variable snow conditions, steep, rocky, and very difficult! Some of them when you see them from the bottom you can't believe anyone would ever ski it, no wonder why they have hosted the World Extreme Championships 14 times!