Simply imagining striding along at just shy of 9,000 feet makes the heart rate drift upwards. So let’s get this up front: if you’re coming from significantly lower elevations to Crested Butte, Colorado, take it easy for a day and acclimate.
If you’ve got the acclimation piece down, Crested Butte could very well be the most iconic of ski towns. Tucked into a dead end valley in winter, and with it’s downtown oozing rustic ski town charm, it’s worth a pilgrimage there for any aficionado of sliding on snow. Calling it the hyperdiverse mecca of snow sliding is not an understatement. There’s snowboarders, splitboarders, alpine racers, jibbers, tele-skiers, real-deal ski mountaineers, and the skinny ski clan. None of whom, it seems on past trips there, were mutually exclusive.
It’s hard to get caught up in ski-turf tribalism when the Elk Mountain’s has you mesmerized.
If you’re looking for a dose of what Crested Butte has to offer, from Thursday November 28th (Thanksgiving) until December 1, Crested Butte Nordic will host its annual Thanksgiving Camp. (You can link to a full camp schedule here.) They’ll have a gamut of clinics catering to first timers and those looking to eek out just a bit more speed.
The camp organizers sent along a “real time conditions” update on November 15, — and we’ll update this story as conditions change.
“We have not received significant snow accumulation since October 29th. The snow events which occurred in late October laid down a skiable base at higher elevations, but have not been sufficient enough as of yet, for USFS to allow us to begin grooming operations at our high elevation venue – Lily Lake (5 miles outside Town, towards Kebler Pass)
“Warming temperatures the last two weeks has largely evaporated our base outside our Nordic Center in town, however our north facing homologated track (mowed – 5k) is still holding a base in the trees.
“We have a chance to receive new snow next week, with two small pulses of moisture in the forecast. Essentially, we need temperatures to drop and stay consistently cold, and get about 6″ new for our homologated track to come online for the camp.”
With ample snow, the cross-country skiing in Crested Butte is an in-town affair. Yet the trail system flows across meadows, kicks up benches and descends down draws, and threads through forest to provide a big dose of skiing perfection in the high mountain West. It’s easy to find your inner and outer exercise tranquility. The reality is, you’re never too far away from a fine food-coma inducing meal back in town.
Ideally, the camp’s on-snow offerings will remain at the nordic center. However, there’s the flexibility to “adjust the camp formatting according to where snow conditions are best.”
Despite the current bony conditions in town, the snow gods have a way of blessing the kowtowing disciples in Crested Butte.
“While conditions are always a concern, we’ve been on snow for the last 30 years,” the camp organizers emailed. “We’ve got a devoted core following who has adapted with us when we need to, and we offer a variety of fun events beyond the on-snow training, including a wine & waxing clinic and a fun party.”