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The Edge

Westword's guide to the 1997-98 ski and snowboard season

General Information: 1-970-968-2882.
Snow Report: 1-970-968-2100.
Location: 75 miles west of Denver via I-70 at exit 195.
Opening and Closing Dates: Mid-November to mid-April.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Terrain: 21% beginner, 25% intermediate, 36% advanced, 18% expert. 2,433 skiable acres with a 2,601' vertical drop. Base: 9,712'; top: 12,313'; longest run: 2.8 miles.

Lifts: 3 high-speed quads, 6 triple chairs, 8 double chairs, 4 surface lifts.

Lift Rates: Adult full-day $29-$47; child full-day $15-$17; senior full-day $29; child under 5 and senior over 70 free.

Rentals: Novice complete recreational package: Adult $18; child $15.
Snowboarding/Cross-Country: Snowboarding welcome. Cross-country call 1-970-968-2882 for information.

Special Events: Women's skiing seminar, Dec. 13-14; Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade and Fireworks, Dec. 24; SIA/Mountain Dew Snowboard Festival, Feb. TBA; 10th Annual Eat, Ski & Be Merry, Feb. 4; Colorado Special Olympics, March 1-3; 9th Annual Snowman Triathlon and Snowman Stomp, March 8; Toyota Celebrity Ski Challenge, April 3-4; Jibfest, April 18.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Between skiing, snowboarding, telemarking, competing, creating a women's-sports television show, producing an all-women ski/snowboard film and working as a home designer, Alison Gannett has just finished building her house, the first one in Aspen made of straw. "I've been involved in the building community here for years," Gannett, 32, says. "I specialize in solar design and 'green' building, and I just thought there was a better, more affordable way to do it. Instead of talking about it, I did it."

Originally from New Hampshire, Gannett has been skiing since her parents strapped her on a ski at the age of one and a half. She started extreme competition in 1994 but recently quit. "I just think it's more fun not to compete," she says. So the 200 or so days that she skis, snowboards and telemarks this year will be all her own.

Gannett came to Crested Butte on vacation, went home, packed her stuff and moved there for good in 1988. "I just fell in love instantly," she says. And she's come to love it even more since she started telemarking: "It's the tele capital of the world." And she likes all the same runs for alpine skiing as she does for telemarking.

But her favorite area at Crested Butte is the extreme area on the North Face. "Okay, the first thing you have to do is pick up the Extreme map," she says. "It's available at ski shops and stores--it's like $5.95. Wait, it's called the Extreme Limits Ski Guide. Anyway, put it on your bathroom wall--that's the best way to study it. And that area is worth it. I've been here nine years, and I still find new places I haven't been. Adventure skiing all the way."

For less adventurous types, Gannett recommends Treasury as the top cruiser. "It's wide open, a blue run that's a really long vertical, about 2,200, I think. It goes from the top of Paradise Bowl, and it's a nice leg-burner." Gentle bumps crop up on Ruby Chief, which she describes as a "solid blue right under Paradise Lift, very good for people learning to ski bumps." More experienced bumpers, however, should play Twister, she adds.

Another step up is the single black Jokerville. "It's very steep at the top, and sometimes it's bumped, sometimes it's groomed. But it's not as steep as the double blacks," Gannett says. "The double blacks to go to, though, are at Spellbound Bowl and Phoenix Bowl. One leads into the other one." To get there, she adds, you have to get to the top of the Poma lift and hike five minutes. "It's a series of rocks, cliffs and chutes," she says. "You can go as gnarly or as mellow as you like, or as mellow as double blacks get."

Those just making the transition from single to double blacks will appreciate Rachel's, which Gannett says takes a little extra effort to get to. "You have to take the Poma," she explains. "That's probably the most challenging thing of all. But do it very early in the morning, before ten. At the top, follow the signs to ski right down the front of the Poma. That's Rachel's. It's more of a single black, but it's a good warmup and you can ski back to the Poma. But be careful, 'cause there's usually tons of rock."

If you can handle that, Gannett suggests that you then get back on the Poma and head up to Hawk's Nest. "If you stay right in the middle, it's usually mostly bumps, and then if you want to challenge yourself, move to the right or left." Very important, she adds, is that when you reach the end of that first big main bowl, you hang a hard left to a road called Easy Out. "But if you're really feeling brave, keep going down and get into the Last Steep, which is very steep, with slide-for-life potential," she cautions. "If you fall at the top, you're going all the way to the bottom."

A little less experienced? Those making the move from blue to black should check out Resurrection, she says, down on East River Lift. "There are usually moguls in the middle, and it's groomed on the side," Gannett says. "It's a black, but you can kind of cheat a little by skiing the groomed and then maybe doing five moguls and then going back out." She adds that there are several good blues over there to warm up on, too.

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