Spring is kind to Crested Butte. Graced with the ideal angles, toasty temps and friendly rays hit the mountain just right, causing a freeze-thaw corn snow cycle.
Here’s how it works: Daytime slush refreezes nightly, teeing up high-elevation north facing slopes for morning sun runs. When spring sun has worked its a.m. magic, the softening snow transitions to corn or “hero snow.” This is springtime gold, forgiving and easy to gracefully maneuver. Powerful afternoon sun rolls in and turns the hero snow to slushy mashed potatoes. Also fun to play around in. But the corn is what you want.
Here’s how to strategize and make your way across the mountain in full-on hero mode.
Kick off your day on the Red Lady Express and Painter Boy lifts. The runs off of these chairs warm up first because they are lower in elevation and face the early morning sun. Splain’s Gulch and Topsy are beginner trails that catch the earliest rays. Intermediate and advanced skiers will want to head all the way down Treasury to the East River Express. These north-facing runs tend to soften early. The High lift to aptly named Morning Glory is impeccable for experts, along with the high-elevation Headwall. Third Bowl welcomes sun first thing in the morning and so do parts of Phoenix Bowl. Grip it and rip it and enjoy the ride.
Around lunchtime, you’ll want to head towards East River Express, Silver Queen Express, High Lift and North Face Lift. By around 11 a.m., most runs are skiing pretty well. Be sure to ski the International trail—it’s a steep black run groomed nightly with a winch snowcat. Paradise Bowl, Cannon and Forrest Queen are beautiful wide open blue runs that soften up mid-day as well.
Bluebird spring afternoons are made for the west side of the mountain (Crested Butte’s front side). The famous experts-only west side terrain is soaking in the sun by 2 p.m. and the corn harvest is unfolding across the Peel, Flatiron, Funnel and Banana runs. The West Wall lift is a steep blue run sans crowds. Instructors love this secret spot for afternoon corn and intermediate skiers looking for fun groomed terrain.
Crested Butte’s high elevation and exceptional grooming standards make for bottomless hero days on the hill. Get out there and savor those glorious spring conditions!