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The Edge

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

East River is also the area for easier trees, like the black Doubletop Glades, where Gannett says you can "poke in and out of the trees. Tougher trees, though, are found under the Silver Queen Lift. "We call it The Forest," she offers. "It's more on the challenging end, a double black that starts off as a single and gets harder and harder."

For 'boarders, Gannett has three suggestions: Gold Link for beginners ("You don't have to hop," she says); Paradise for intermediates; and Front Side or Hawk's Nest to Easy Out for experts. "These are more like double blacks, but Front Side has very little hopping, and the other one has no hopping and as much air as you want." She adds that Crested Butte is in the process of building a new snowboard park for the ESPN Extreme Games in January.

Gannett says that everyone should take the Goldlink Lift to the top and take a picnic. "The view is beautiful, and I think it should be mandatory to take food and spend some time there," she says. The double-black skier's view, however, can be found on the front side in the extreme area. "Go to the avalanche chutes [at the Banana Funnel] to looker's right of Silver Queen," she explains. "Head out there all the way to a place I call Sunset Ridge. It's a triple black, really challenging to get there, but it's one of the best views of the valley and the town, especially in the afternoon."

Gannett recommends either staying on the mountain for apres-ski at the Avalanche Bar & Grill or heading across the parking lot to Casey's (650 Gothic Rd.) for "good steak fries and pitchers of Anchor Steam." And another hotspot, one that Gannett says people don't usually find, is across the lot as well: the Swiss Chalet (621 Gothic Rd.), "for all your giant German beers."

The Avalanche is Gannett's pick for pizza, too, and she says it's a bummer that they don't deliver. "We have other pizza places, but it's really the best in town," she says. She also loves the Avalanche for breakfast. "Well, I go get bagels for quick a.m. stuff," she admits. "But the sit-down breakfast at the Avalanche is tops. Reasonable, good for families. We actually go up there in the summer because it's so affordable."

Gannett thinks a good lunch is subs at Local Heroes (218 Maroon Ave.) and the "enormous, $4.95 burritos at Teocalli Tamale [311 Elk Ave.]." For burgers, she likes the Wooden Nickel (222 Elk Ave.) or the Idlespur (226 Elk Ave.)--also good for prime rib--and she says the best coffee in town is at Camp Four. "They have a cart in town next to Donita's (332 Elk Ave.), and they also have a cart on the mountain," she explains. "Outside of Italy, I swear it's the best coffee in the world."

Donita's is her pick for "super-affordable Tex-Mex." She adds that it's packed every night, so get there early. "It's not uncommon to wait over an hour during the busy season," she says. "But get there at five and you're in. You can order a la carte there for under $4, and their full dinners are phenomenal as well. And if you can go there just for dessert, the sopaipilla sundaes with homemade honey-cinnamon ice cream and caramel Kahlua sauce is to die for."

Another good tip: Gannett says there are two good sushi places in town, but the best sushi can be reeled in on Monday nights at the Backcountry Gourmet (435 Sixth). "They fly it in special, just for that one night," she reveals. "It's really, really good."

The "most unbelievable chocolate souffle in the world" is available at The Timberline (21 Elk Ave.), Gannett's choice for a fine-dining experience. "It's a little bit French, more like New American," she says. "It's so beautiful, too." The new Timberline Cafe (425 Elk Ave.) is an extension of that restaurant, she adds, and it's "really affordable for big salads and sit-down dinners for around $10."

For after dinner, Gannett names three places that qualify as local hangouts: "Talk of the Town [230 Elk Ave.] for the youngest crowd, Eldo [215 Elk Ave.] for the 25-to-30 set, and Kochevars [127 Elk Ave.] for the oldies." She usually goes to the Eldo for music, or to the tourist bar, The Rafters Restaurant & Nightclub (at the mountain in the Gothic Building). "With everything I have going on, though," she adds, "I just go home and crash."

General Information: 1-800-544-8448.
Snow Report: 1-970-349-2323.
Location: 230 miles southwest of Denver via U.S. Hwy. 285, U.S. Hwy. 50 and Colo. Hwy. 135.

Opening and Closing Dates: November 27 to April 20.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Terrain: 24% beginner, 57% intermediate, 19% advanced. 2,775' vertical drop. Base: 9,100'; top: 11,875'; longest run: 2.6 miles. Additional 550 ungroomed acres for experts.

Lifts: 2 high-speed quads, 3 triple chairs, 4 double chairs, 4 surface lifts.

Lift Rates: Adult full-day $47; child full-day pay age per day with paying adult; senior $23.50; senior over 70 free.

Rentals: Adult ski package $14; child ski package $10; snowboard package $22.

Snowboarding/Cross-Country: Snowboarding welcome. Cross-country call
Special Events: Christmas Torchlight Parade, Dec. 24; ESPN Winter X Games, Jan. 15-18; US Extreme Free Skiing Championships, Feb. 8-12; US Extreme Snowboarding Championships, Feb. 22-25; Disabled American Veterans Winter Sports Weekend, March 22-27.

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