Backcountry Skiing in Crested Butte

Crested Butte | Colorado
5.00
4 REVIEWS
Trip Highlights

Top reasons to go backcountry skiing in Crested Butte

  • Trip Highlight

    Five separate drainages with hundreds of thrilling routes at your disposal

  • Trip Highlight

    Multiple 3,000+ foot descents with guaranteed thrills at every turn

  • Trip Highlight

    Huge snowfall raises the backcountry skiing experience to another level

Crested Butte is well known to mountain sports enthusiasts for offering some of the steepest resort skiing in North America. However, if you wish to learn new backcountry skills or hone existing ones, you just need to take a small detour from your resort and you will find yourself in true backcountry heaven. From open bowls and steep and secluded tree stops to massive alpine peaks, the Crested Butte backcountry has it all. Coney’s offers some high-quality north-facing lappable powder shots. Schuylkill Ridge’s surprise cliffs and cross-loading are guaranteed to keep you on your toes. Mount Axtell’s steep turns provide a tough challenge for even the most skilled backcountry masters. Diversity is the name of the game here, and the abundance of options Crested Butte offers to both beginner and experienced skiers make it an absolute must-visit. Learn more about backcountry skiing in Crested Butte from an outdoor enthusiast, Ebony Roberts.

Season

December through March

Nearest city

Denver, CO, is 4 hours away from Crested Buttedrive

Duration

1 day

Skill level

Beginner to advanced

Itineraries

Book this adventure

Intro to Backcountry Skiing in Crested Butte

Full-day

Learn what it takes to plan and execute a backcountry ski tour in the stunning Crested Butte! Join a seasoned local guide for a comprehensive and engaging day course, and build an excellent backcountry skiing foundation! Master backcountry essentials such as avalanche hazard recognition, route finding skills, and efficient backcountry gear use.

A Customized Day of Guided Backcountry Skiing in Crested Butte

Full-day

Get the most out of Crested Butte’s excellent snow and stunning surroundings by hiring a guide for a private tour in the backcountry. Take the opportunity to ski under the guidance of highly experienced and knowledgeable backcountry guides. With a wide variety of tours available, it’s easy to find one that best suits your individual skill level and goals!

Reviews

Reviews (4)

Rob B. about Irwin Guides on Irwin Guides

Dan exceeded even my best expectations. If the rest of your guides are even half as good I would gladly climb or ski with them any day…anywhere. I really look forward to future guided outdoor adventures…both stand-alone as well as prep/training for bigger-and-better things. It’s days like yesterday that keep me going and make the headaches of everyday life well worth putting up with. My most sincere thanks to Dan, Tiff, Kelly & Irwin Guides for a truly unforgettable experience.

Christina D. about Irwin Guides on Irwin Guides

Thank you for making our backcountry skiing/splitboarding day so amazing. It was by far the most memorable day during our stay in Crested Butte. Your team was an absolute pleasure to work with and we were so impressed with how you went out of your way to make sure we had everything we needed. Evan was very attentive and did a great job at picking terrain appropriate to our experience level. He also was extremely helpful in assisting me with transitioning my splitboard prior to each descent and in helping me get whenever I fell or got stuck.

Rob Y. about Irwin Guides on Irwin Guides

Thanks for the trip. With my girlfriend and I having varying degrees of experience, you were great in leading a mind-blowing, backcountry, mountain ski experience. The Hut in Gothic was very comfortable. The food was perfect for the occasion. Even with the snow conditions being as they were, the skiing was still great because you used your knowledge of the local snow to seek out the good ‘stuff.’ We were both impressed with your knowledge of avalanches, your professional background; (the years you spent in ski patrol, and the guiding) and the ability to bring it all together in a good time. Looking forward to booking additional trips with you in the near future.

Ray K. about Irwin Guides

With 45 Years of skiing, going with BAYWATCH (Evan Ross) and IRWIN GUIDES [was the] best time. You gotta go – Untracked snow, laughing, the views….Spectacular.

Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in Crested Butte, CO

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Crested Butte, please refer to the Gunnison County website.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

What’s included?

What you get in this adventure: 

    • An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
    • A full day of backcountry ski touring or instruction

What’s not included:

    • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
    • Accommodation
    • Food and snacks
    • Transportation

How fit do I need to be?

In order to enjoy this backcountry adventure, you need to have a moderate level of fitness. You will be on your feet for a full day. While there is terrain for all skill levels in Crested Butte, you will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on blue level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.

What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?

Backcountry skiing isn’t just for pros looking for the ultimate thrill ride, it’s also beginner friendly, meaning anyone with blue level resort experience can have fun in the backcountry. If you’ve never backcountry skied before, heading out with a guide is your best bet. They’ll take care of the planning, introduce you to the basics, like skinning uphill, and teach you how to manage the terrain. They also have the experience and avalanche training to keep you safe.

What equipment do I need to bring?

For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:

    • Alpine touring skis, telemark skis or splitboard with skins (can be rented)
    • Touring boots and poles (can be rented)
    • Avalanche safety equipment (can be rented):
      • Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
      • Lightweight snow shovel
      • Avalanche probe
      • Harness for glacier travel (if needed for advanced touring)

For personal items, we recommend bringing:

    • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-tex recommended)
    • Ski pants (Gore-tex recommended)
    • Helmet
    • Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
    • Down jacket or vest
    • Gloves and hat
    • One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
    • Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
    • Water bottle and 1L of water
    • Food you can eat on-the-go
    • Sunglasses or ski goggles
    • First-aid kit
    • Sunscreen
    • Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L bag)
    • Camera — optional

Can I rent equipment?

All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent:

    • Avalanche safety pack, including the beacon, shovel, and probe can be rented from your guide
    • Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots and poles can be rented from the guiding service or from Gearo in Crested Butte
    • Splitboard set-up can be rented from your guide

Ski rental locations are in Crested Butte and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes and pricing:

    • For this adventure, the max client to guide ratio is 4:1. 
    • Costs per person decrease as the group grows for private lessons, so it’s the perfect opportunity to climb with friends and family. 

Ski touring in Crested Butte can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

Min. age requirements:

    • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
    • Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis. 

If your group has skiers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Crested Butte, most people fly into Montrose Regional Airport. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service the 2 hours east to Crested Butte. You can also fly into Denver International Airport to drive the 4.5 hours southwest. Be aware, no shuttle services are available and inclement weather can close the mountain passes unexpectedly.

Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop or a predetermined location. From there, you’ll head to your tour. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ski ability of the group.

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