This has been a weird year for weather, and the fall has certainly been no exception, with the longest-running Indian summer here in Northern New Mexico, and pretty much nationwide, that I have experienced in my lifetime. With only a few days being the exception, I could have been in shorts riding mountain single track on my bike (usually the first activity to go with the onset of fall/winter weather) right up to Thanksgiving.
Colorado typically has two Thanksgiving camps: Crested Butte Thanksgiving Nordic Camp and Boulder Nordic's Thanksgiving camp at Snow Mountain Ranch. Both places can lay claim to some of the best and most reliable early season skiing anywhere in North America. With the balmy and dry Indian summer lingering and the early date of Thanksgiving this year, these two camps were in serious question as of late last week. Heck, even the Yellowstone Camp didn't seem possible until the 59th minute of the 11th hour.
Unfortunately the Boulder Nordic Thanksgiving Camp had to be cancelled due to the lack of quality snow at Snow Mountain Ranch in Northern Colorado. But thankfully for us Southern Rocky Mountain skiers who made the trip to Crested Butte, they were still able to pull off an amazing camp with great clinics and events.
The Crested Butte/Gunnison, Colorado area is quite low-key, but is home to some of the nation's greatest athletes in running, biking, multi-sport and of course, xc skiing. It is this demographic that helps make the area special. The camp clinics are taught by Olympians, national caliber coaches, and staff members who are not only great skiers, but also great clinicians and teachers.
This year's camp was a question mark with regard to clinic events, but thanks to the creativity and effort of Western State's head Nordic coach, Jesse Crandall, in getting an alternate location higher up in the mountains groomed out, the camp was a go on somewhat thin, but surprisingly good snow conditions. Jesse somehow managed to groom, coach his collegiate team, and teach a clinic during the camp.
Crested Butte Nordic put together a mix of dryland skills, strength and technique clinics, along with on-snow instruction. Olympians Ingrid Butts and Rebecca Dussault instructed the comprehensive dryland clinic that included drills on balance, position, and technique as well as fitness and strength training that included a round of their special circuit training exercises. Ingrid Butts and Jesse Crandall came right back out the next day to get all of the campers loaded into the CB Nordic Center vans and up to the groomed Lilly Lake area near the top of Ohio Pass for the on-snow clinics.
Good skiing at Lilly Lake for the camp clinics!
In addition to the clinics and skiing, the Crested Butte Nordic Council hosted a big party that included a great local bluegrass band and a silent auction on many Nordic ski related items like Colorado hut-to-hut trips, skis, clothing, etc., and other interesting items like Persian rugs. They served up a very fancy catered dinner that included libations and dessert…all for only $10! It seemed like the only thing going on in town, as almost everyone was there for the fun.