Even experts think twice in Crested Butte’s high-risk race
Big-mountain freeskier Rex Wehrman remembers the exact moment he was scared away from competing ever again in the U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships at Crested Butte.
“I was taking a line through ‘Body Bag Chutes’ and wound up going off the final jump on one ski, with my other one behind me,” said the two-time U.S. Extremes champion from Summit County. “As soon as I took off, I just thought, ‘That’s it. I’m never doing this again.’ “
Wehrman, 38, managed to pull it together in midair and land the unforgiving 30-foot jump wedged between jagged rocks and thick timber, and even advance to the final round among the 2006 contest’s elite the following day. But his heart was no longer in it. And that’s no way to approach what may be the most difficult and dangerous in-bounds ski terrain in Colorado.
Wehrman now applies his extreme skiing expertise as a judge at the event, which celebrated its 18th anniversary Saturday.
Fans came out in droves for the final day of the 2009 Subaru US Extreme Freeskiing Championships at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR). The first stop on the 2009 Freeskiing World Tour (FWT), fifty athletes qualified for the final day in the Hourglass/Bermuda Triangle, an area off-limits to the everyday skier, but opened up for the final day thanks to the work of the Crested Butte Mountain Professional Ski Patrol. In the end, Michelle Manning and Clif Bennett both of Alta/Snowbird, Utah, would post the best-combined score to take the titles.
The Hourglass/Bermuda Triangle is a 1,000-vertical-foot drop with a sustained pitch of 40-degrees and reaching 60-degrees in several spots leaving skiers no room for mistakes. With no traffic in the area the entire season, competitors were treated to a mixed bag of conditions from soft powder, to bottomless, punchy holes and areas of completely bare rocks and trees.
The North Face comp completes its second stop
Kicking off on the lover’s holiday, February 14th, the second day of the Northface Masters at Crested Butte found competitors battling inclement weather, and each other, for a victory on the notorious “Staircase” slope.
Straight down from the start gate, riders had their pick of a skiers left area, “Staircase Proper,” with a series of pillows called the “Handrail,” and further left more pillows called the “Slot Cliffs.” To the riders right sat a cliff-strewn apron called “Body Bag,” with another nasty piece further right called “Dead End,” and finally a cliff launch dubbed the “Cheese Burger.” With death and food metaphors abound, and milk-bird conditions, both the men’s and women’s field laid down serious tracks in the first round of the finals, racing for a cut that left five women and fifteen men for the super-duper finals.
With the sun gracing the sky finally, the scent of BBQ-ing cow from The North Face Jimmy Hopper grill, and a crazed character named Spencer Moon wandering around with a pirate flag draped cape-style about his neck, the real action of the super-duper finals got under way.
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After two days of snowing, it was a full sunny ski day in Crested Butte today. Once you escaped the crowds of the Red Lady Lift (a ten minute wait – that’s busy for Crested Butte!) and the Painter Boy area, it was reasonably clear on the lower slopes. There was a queue for the North Face lift and the Paradise runs were busy, but the East River area was great.
Day one went down on the Headwall area of Crested Butte, and riders didn’t hesitate taking the rocky and scrappy slope apart.
The second stop on the North Face Masters series is popping off at Crested Butte, Colorado, and the tour couldn’t have picked a better freeride mecca. Returning champs from the Snowbird comp, Shannan Yates and Matt Annetts are up against a national field of free-shredders that includes a huge portion of local talent.
The ‘Butte has a revered place among big mountain types, capturing the interest of now pro-shred legends Chris Englesman, Dave Basterachea and Barrett Christy, among others. So, what’s the deal?
“It’s steep and it’s rocky,” answers 18-year local and fifth-place finisher in today’s preliminary round Gareth Van Dk. “Crested Butte is a big volcano of shale. It’s straight up daggers waiting to bite you.” But besides the geological punishers, says Van Dyk, CB has the pitch to match.
Read the full story here: EXPN
Crested Butte has partnered with The Ski Organizers, a national full-service ski tour operator, to help skiers and snowboarders living on Colorado’s Front Range travel to Crested Butte via a comfortable and environmentally friendly coach service.
Riders who book the weekend bus packages meet the Ski Bus at established pick-up locations and have a hassle-free ride straight into Crested Butte. The Ski Organizers coordinate the bus transfers, pick-up location, and other logistics.
All weekend ski packages include two nights’ accommodation in Crested Butte, round trip private bus transportation from the Front Range, and two days of skiing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort.
Prices and booking options are online.
After four flights and an overnight stop in Tampa, arrived in Crested Butte at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon. With ski passes and ski equipment pre-booked on-line the admin side of the ski trip took less than an hour. Passes for four took less than 1/4 of an hour and Peak Sports had us fitted in about half an hour.
First-ish lift this morning and a sunny start to the ski trip. Snow was forecast and the weather closed in, got cold and windy but the snow never fell.