Crested Butte — Parks and pipes
Crested Butte as a town harbors no prejudice against those who approach the world a little differently—and that reflects in its attitude toward snowboarders. Welcome. Now strap in and go for a ride. Just make sure to read the notes about cliffs in the mountain layout section, and find a local or guide to take you into the Extreme Limits the first couple of times.
A great feature about Crested Butte is the humongous amount of big air you can find, if you’re into it. Anywhere experts go off the T-bars is good. The farther out you traverse from the top of these lifts, the less likely you are to see people. The downside is that if you want to do laps all the way to the bottom, it’ll take you three or four lifts (depending on your destination) to get back to the top. Of course, this also helps preserve untracked snow.
An excellent choice for true hardcores is the 40-degree Headwall. Once again, the farther you traverse, the less likely you are to cross tracks. But don’t go out here if you are not really a seasoned expert. The 12-inch-by-12-inch sign that reads “Cliff Area” actually means that there is a 400-foot-long cliff band below you. If Teocalli Bowl is open, go there immediately.
Off of Silver Queen, traverse to the phenomenally good west-facing chutes. Banana, Peel and Sunset Ridge are the places to be on a spring day, when there’s lots of sun and conditions are soft.
Silver Queen takes advanced riders to some of the steeper groomed black runs in the state. Intermediates will have a ball in Paradise Bowl and on the long cruisers that start at the top of Paradise Express and dump you out at the base of the East River Lift. Be ready to feel weak in the legs by the time you reach the bottom. Beginners also have a great selection of trails, most just off the Red Lady Express. But don’t skip the midmountain cabin and runs off Painter Boy Lift.
Flats are unavoidable here, as they are most everywhere. The really annoying one, though, is returning to the Red Lady Express after riding Peak, Peel, Banana, Funnel and Forest. Keep your speed or you’ll get stuck on a heinous flat. It’s—yes—a quarter-mile long. You’ll also have to hike out from the Extreme Limits and Teocalli Bowl.
Parks and pipes
As if the steeps and cliffs aren’t enough, Crested Butte has an awesome advanced park along the lower Canaan run. The Canaan Terrain Park, above the Paradise warming house, is long, with good sequences of tabletops, rails and kickers—including a 55-foot monster—that allow for creativity. The wall ride is where you’ll really find out just how good you are. Because the park’s beneath the Paradise lift, it’s the perfect place to collect a bunch of cheers—or jeers—depending on your style.
Crested Butte’s 420-foot-long superpipe is also off the Paradise chairlift on Forest Queen. The Zaugg cuts it to be 55 feet wide and 18 feet high with a slope of 17 degrees.
Painter Boy Park at the top of Painter Boy offers solace to those who aren’t ready to jump in with the big contenders, -though you’ll see some kid riders and skiers here who are pretty hot. Kids as well as adults come here to ride the smaller features and get a feel for tabletops, rail slides and the minipipe.
Photos courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort