Resort Looks to Expand both Intermediate and Expert Terrain
While trolling the outer boundary of Teocalli bowl for some fresh snow this meager winter, I came across a large (drool inducing) triple pillow line that looked ready to be skied. It was something I’ve never seen at Crested Butte. The only problem was an orange rope that signaled the resort boundary between this amazing line and me.
It has been evident for some time that Crested Butte Mountain Resort wants to expand. The primary reason for proposed expansions is to increase the amount of intermediate terrain that the resort has to offer, thus increasing the client base that brings revenue to our valley. The highly publicized proposal for expansion on Snodgrass was shut down for a variety of environmental and commercial reasons. This time, however, the resort has looked inwards and is attempting to make the most of the terrain it already has. And this current proposal will benefit both intermediate skiers and expert skiers in a big way. We caught up with John Sale, CBMR’s Director of Planning, to hike into the proposed expansion area and get an understanding of the terrain in question.
This proposal includes plans for two new lifts (and possibly an expansion of the existing North Face Lift) that would access Teocali Two, 4th Bowl, 5th Bowl, 6th Bowl, and the gladed area that empties out into the Brush Creek drainage. According to Sale, the expansion would add 120 acres of developed trails and 200 to 250 acres of new advanced gladed terrain, totaling between 300-400 acres of new terrain for the resort.
The first new lift to be added will be called Teo Park Lift, running from an area near the bottom of Teo 2 to where the North Face Lift currently finishes. This lift would add both advanced and intermediate terrain. If you have skied the right side of Teocalli Bowl, you have probably seen and dreamed of the fresh snow and new terrain. This could be ours. Moreover, Sale explains, the terrain in Teo and Teo 2 can open much earlier in the season than the Headwall and the North Face, as wind tends to deposit more snow in that area.
The second new lift, called Teo Drainage, will run over 6,000 feet from an area above Brush Creek drainage, all the way up to the area currently known as Wolf’s Lair. This will access about 1800 feet of vertical skiing. To get a better perspective, the lift will be bigger than Paradise Lift but a little smaller than the Silver Queen. On the provided maps, one can see how the Teo Drainage lift would provide more intermediate terrain, but would also access acres of unexplored glades. It will also open 4th, 5th, and 6th bowls to the public. However, Sale notes that opening these bowls will be of low priority for the resort, “mostly because the egress out is very difficult and we will be focused on more accessible terrain into Teo Drainage and maybe 6th bowl.”
While this is exciting news, the process of planning, surveys, and actual construction will take a couple of years. CBMR will submit its master plan at the end of this month. There will be modifications and a final determination of whether the plan is accepted or denied. Once accepted, the plan will go up for environmental review. This alone is a two-year process that will assess the environmental impact of the expansion, costing the resort hundreds of thousands of dollars. Among concerns are the trees removed (CBMR pays per tree they cut down for glading) and the impact on elk herds. However, Sale points out that Crested Butte is an island away from other mountains, so whatever impact the resort has will be limited to the butte itself, something that was not the case with Snodgrass. In addition, the resort will install fixed grip chairlifts as opposed to express lifts, cutting energy costs by two-thirds. As the plan moves further along, the resort will be opening the new terrain in phases, starting with Teocalli 2 and the Teo Park Lift.
On Wednesday, August 15th from 4:30 to 6:30, the resort will be hold an “open house” on the deck at Butte 66, where the public can look at plans and learn more about the expansion. Come learn more as the expansion would have a significant impact on our resort and therefore our community.