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Opening Terrain with CBMR Ski Patrol

Wildflowers in Crested Butte

Opening Terrain with CBMR Ski Patrol

The beginning of the winter season is an exciting time to be at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. As the temperatures drop and the snow stacks up, there is the inevitable question of when more terrain will open up.  

New terrain openings are orchestrated by an integrated team of Mountain Operations and Ski Patrol. There are two primary factors that must be approved by these on-mountain teams before additional terrain becomes open for skiing and riding.

Safety is the most important factor that goes into opening new terrain. Natural terrain features, mountain operations, snowmaking, grooming, chairlifts and loading/unloading ramps are all heavily considered in safety.  

Mother Nature
To no surprise, Mother Nature plays a key role in our terrain openings. Cold temperatures allow CBMR’s snowmaking team to blow snow, and natural snowfall creates a base on runs that don’t receive snowmaking. Some runs at CBMR are easily opened with relatively minimal natural snowfall due to the grassy base underneath the snow; however, other runs largely consist of rocks and boulders, which require much more snow to open.

Opening the Extreme Limits Terrain
In addition to safety and Mother Nature’s assistance, CBMR Ski Patrol faces some additional challenges prior to opening the resort’s famed Extreme Limits Terrain.  

The first step for Ski Patrol is to secure the hundreds of avalanche paths around the resort, with an emphasis on those paths that lead onto more of the resort’s general runs.  

“It works inside out,” explains Brian Finney, Assistant Ski Patrol Director at CBMR. “After securing the avalanche routes, we send packing crews in to help stabilize the snow, and then we need to wait for at least one more storm to build the base for opening.”
As Ski Patrol deems terrain ready to open, they then begin to move outward to the further reaches of the Extreme Limits terrain.

Finney continues, “Avalanche routes such as Headwall and Paradise Cliffs must be prioritized as they are directly above the intermediate Paradise Bowl and Ruby Chief runs. Once those routes are secured, our team will reconvene and head further out into the Extremes. This is why the High Lift generally opens before the North Face Lift.”

Be sure to thank Ski Patrol and members of mountain operations when you see them on the hill. As always, remember to follow “the Code”.