Crested Butte Snowcat Skiing – Irwin I had the opportunity to go snowcat skiing with Irwin twice this winter with two different groups of friends and clients from Texas. We had skiers of varied abilities and with all the terrain available from steeps to gently smooth carving runs, there were lots of giggles, a few epic spills into endless powder – and everyone had a great day.
You start the adventure by meeting at the Irwin Building at Belleview & 3rd in downtown Crested Butte where we were greeted by a welcoming staff. Here we checked-in and picked-out a pair of fat custom made Wagner powder skis that we used for the day (if you have your own fat powder skis you can bring those as well – a couple of guys wanted to compare their own skis). Some paperwork, some coffee, an orange, some danishes and then we loaded up in the Snowcat for the ride up to Irwin. After 45 minutes we arrived at the base of operations at Irwin – greeted again with more smiling staff members in a cozy rustic cabin setting with a blazing fire, and comfortable setting. There is no sense of hurry or rush – just a relaxing stop to put our ski boots on, gather our gear, and listen to the guides go over the plan for the day. The overview included a required safety talk and we were all given avalanche beacons. Irwin manages the skiing terrain and avalanche mitigation daily and takes this responsibility seriously. Spending any time in the backcountry in the Winter requires knowledge and experience – and I was relieved for our group that the lead avalanche forecaster for the Crested Butte Avalanche Center – Zach Guy was one of our Irwin guides.
Irwin has more than 1,000 acres of terrain for their snow cat skiing operation – and it takes about 20 minutes in the Cat to get to the top of the Scarps Ridge area. We skied many routes and skied together as one group, or split off into two groups based on the challenge of the runs and wishes of our group. Each run had multiple stops and an overview of the upcoming terrain – one guide would lead the way setting a track and testing the snow. Typically they would send us one at a time on the steeper pitches and we would follow our guide’s tracks everyone finding their own fresh powder line. The other guide(s) would bring up the rear and be there to help anyone who fell and needed a bit of assistance.
With 10 skiers in the cat, plus 2-3 guides and the snowcat driver we made our way up and skied down 9 runs one day and 10 the other. I am told up to 12 runs per day is possible depending on which runs, your group’s ability, visibility and snow conditions. We stopped for lunch when the group agreed we were hungry and had a gourmet lunch of soup and sandwiches, homemade cookies and drinks (you can bring a cooler of beer or whatever for the end of the day ski apres).
Crested Butte Snowcat Skiing – IrwinCrested Butte Snowcat Skiing – Irwin. This area has a lot to offer and I continually find NEW adventures here that add to my love of Crested Butte. I was a bit nervous how it was going to go – at $500 per man I was hoping everyone in each group would really enjoy it – and they all did. We had two great days of powder skiing and a special time together. My hat is off to the high level of service, experience of the guides, and attention to detail from the Irwin staff. We hired the photographer for one of the trips and he got some great action shots and a nice group photo.
People often ask me “what makes Crested Butte special?” It is hard to put into words, but this is part of the charm of Crested Butte for visitors, locals and second homeowners. There are plenty of luxury homes and high-end ski-in / ski-out condos at the base area, but unlike some of the other ski resort towns in Colorado that have their glitsy roots in gold and silver mining – Crested Butte was originally a coal mining town. In many ways the character and attitude of the early miners and ranchers has transcended time. In Crested Butte the skiing is great, the scenery is awesome, the recreational activities in the Gunnison Valley are endless, and the people are warm, friendly and real. The Irwin Snowcat skiing operation is a great amenity for Crested Butte – they employ many locals, provide a high level of service, and bring in affluent visitors who spend money in our community. Whether you are a first time visitor or long time second homeowner I strongly recommend you put it on your Crested Butte bucket list!
The Irwin Snowcat skiing operation in the Crested Butte area is one of the worldwide destinations in the Eleven portfolio. Eleven also operates the Scarp Ridge Lodge in historic downtown Crested Butte. For more information see the Irwin Snowcat Skiing website: http://winter.irwincolorado.com/winter/experience
If you have an interest in Crested Butte Real Estate and would like to start a conversation about homes, condos or land in the Crested Butte area, call Chris Kopf, Previews® Property Specialist, Coldwell Banker Bighorn Realty, 970-209-5405 or email@example.com, http://chriskopf.com or Contact Chris
Author: Chris Kopf