Backcountry Skiing in Colorado
The trophy of Crested Butte’s natural playground is the backcountry. Terrain options are endless, from navigating low-angle, open glades to summiting a challenging peak and then skiing steep faces, couloirs, and trees. 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. From open bowls to steep and secluded tree runs and big alpine peaks, our guides will show you their favorite places to play in the backcountry. Make fresh turns down the classic Red Lady Bowl or Red Lady glades and then ski with a guide back to town. New to backcountry skiing? Tackle mellow terrain with shorter approaches, gradual ascents, and low-angle runs. Our guides are all avalanche experts and will outfit you with avalanche rescue gear, including a backpack, beacon, shovel, and probe.
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. Our guides use this day to assess skill levels and discuss client goals for the week ahead.
Day 3-5 - Snowcat Skiing
Eleven’s custom-designed 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) transfers guests to Irwin. At our on-mountain chalet, boot up, meet your guides, and receive a final safety briefing. A second snowcat delivers you to off-piste, untouched powder. Mornings allow for 4-5 runs prior to a delicious gourmet lunch, topped with another 4-5 afternoon descents. Brag about the best runs of the day during après-ski, then re-load the 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 vertical feet. Guides will give tips on ski touring while strategizing the best descent.
- 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