Backcountry Skiing in Colorado
The trophy of Crested Butte’s natural playground is the backcountry skiing. This is why locals first visit, get hooked, and stay. Terrain options are endless. If it’s a short, half-day tour navigating low-angle, open glades you’re after, or if summiting a challenging peak and then skiing steep faces, couloirs, and trees is more your speed, CB’s off-piste skiing has it all. Our guides will set the perfect skin track while also pacing you and increasing your backcountry knowledge.
A letter from your guide
Steve Banks, Director of Mountain Guide Operations
Colorado is synonymous with powder skiing. Our high elevation and cold temperatures result in some of the lightest snow in the US. Irwin is uniquely located to catch any storm headed from the Great Basin, and we receive more than twice as much annual snowfall as nearby ski resorts. Orographic snowstorms will regularly drop a surprise two feet of fluffy powder on Irwin’s 1,000 acres of skiable terrain when other areas receive just two inches. Regular avalanche control work allows our guests to ski steep terrain during these big storms–the best time for face shots! Our remote location gives a unique wilderness feel, while our on-mountain facilities, snow cats, and staff are unrivaled in the industry.
Day 1 - Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Get outfitted with custom Wagner skis and top-of-the-line gear essentials. Ride the resort’s lifts and warm up those ski legs. Traverse on-piste, groomed runs or check out the expert steep-and-deep terrain. If desired, a private ski lesson with a vetted ski instructor can get you prepped for the week. Have lunch on-mountain and après at our slope-side Crested Butte condo.
Day 2 - Resort or Snowcat Skiing
Time to challenge yourself. Whether hitting the resort for round two, or opting to tackle snowcat skiing, epic turns are the only demands of the day. Irwin guides take this day to assess skill levels, client’s goals for the week, and crack a few jokes along the way. After all, skiing is made for smiling.
Day 3-5 - Snowcat Skiing
Eleven’s tricked-out Tucker snowcat picks you up right in front of the lodge. This 45-minute alpine limo (think flat screen TV, mood lights, and custom playlists en route) transfers guests to Irwin. At our on-mountain chalet, boot up, meet your guides, and receive a final safety briefing. Next up? Load snowcat #2. It’s time to ride off-piste, untouched powder. Mornings allow for 4-5 runs prior to a gourmet catered lunch, topped with another 4-5 afternoon descents. Following a festive après-ski session, re-load Tucker and head back to town.
Day 6 - Hybrid Backcountry Tour - Scarp Ridge to Mt. Emmons
After being outfitted with lightweight alpine touring boots, a snowcat or snowmobile will take you from Irwin to the 12,000-foot Scarp Ridge. Skin up 800 feet on a dramatic ridge tour to Mt. Emmons, with 360-degree Elk Mountain views. Your reward? 2,500 vert. Guides will give tips on ski touring while strategizing the best descent. Charge down the classic Red Lady Bowl or Red Lady glades.
- Warm ski hat, baseball hat
- Goggles (high and low-light lenses)
- Outerwear (ski jacket and pants)
- Ski boots (alpine or backcountry)
- Ski socks
- Gloves or mittens (heavy and lightweight)
- Warm layers for top and bottom: capilene, wool, fleece
- Small backpack or duffel (for transporting ski gear to and from Irwin and the resort)
- If you are backcountry skiing, avalanche safety gear will be provided to you