December through March (January and February are best)
Strong beginner to advanced
Chase big pow in “the last great Colorado ski town”
Crested Butte is known for its committed high-angle runs and virtually limitless backcountry possibilities. Situated at an elevation of 8,909ft at the base of its namesake mountain, residents and backcountry enthusiasts alike regularly make the pilgrimage to ski the town’s accessible terrain; there are five separate drainages to choose from, each with lines for every level of backcountry skier. Depending on where you decide to tour, some spots north and west of Crested Butte Mountain Resort get up to three-times more snowfall than the resort!
Crested Butte’s most popular backcountry skiing adventures
Private Day of Crested Butte Backcountry Skiing
Get the most out of Crested Butte and its stunning surroundings by hiring a guide for a private tour in the backcountry. This is the best way to mitigate the area’s heightened avalanche risk while making sure to ski some untracked pow. Your guide will tailor the day’s objectives to your abilities.
Intro to the Backcountry Skiing
If you’re a competent resort skier looking to explore terrain beyond resort boundaries, this is the program for you. You’ll cover the basics of tour planning, avalanche gear and how to use it, and discuss the importance of snowpack before heading out.
Things you need to know
When is the best time to go?
The peak backcountry season is from January through the end of February.
What about bad weather?
Whether Crested Butte is overcast and greyed out with fresh snowfall or the sun is shining on unskied powder, any weather conditions — good or bad — can determine attainable objectives. Avalanche risk is very real and must be respected whenever venturing out into the backcountry. Because of this, your guide will decide on what objectives are most suitable and what areas are safe for adventuring on a given day.
Is there a minimum age requirement?
While there is no minimum age requirement, all skiers, young and old, should be competent resort skiers before heading out into the backcountry.
Group sizes and pricing?
Group sizes are small, with no more than a 1:4 guide-to-client ratio. Pricing is per person, with fees decreasing as the group size grows.
How fit do I need to be for this adventure?
The better shape you’re in, the better time you’ll have. Because of the significant amounts of elevation gain — not to mention the starting elevation — physical fitness is very important. All participants must be comfortable skinning while carrying a loaded pack.
Crested Butte is 4.25 hours southwest of Denver by car. The city is serviced by regional airport Gunnison–Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC).
Guides we recommend
Certified IFMGA/AMGA Guides
Location, location, location!
Aside from the mountain Crested Butte, which peaks at +12,000ft, nearby is Cathedral Mountain (+13,000ft) and the 14ers Pyramid and Capitol — like we said, epic backcountry skiing terrain wherever you look. If couloirs, high-angle descents, and big bowl skiing aren’t your things (yet), there are plenty of mellow areas to tour with your guide. Try First Glade on Snodgrass or Red Lady Bowl and Trappers Way on Mount Emmons. Remember, touring with a guide gets the most out of your day in the backcountry and mitigates avalanche risk!