Nordic Skiing Booming in the Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado

Nordic skiing near Gunnison. New happenings and 100K of groomed trails catching attention of cross-country world

The Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley, located in southwest Colorado, has emerged as a Nordic skiing hot spot with trails and events that sizzle. Groomed Nordic trails now number more than 100K, backcountry routes are plentiful, and a jam-packed calendar of events, tours and races offer opportunities to have fun and stay in shape. In fact, there are more new Nordic happenings than ever for the 2011/2012 season.

What’s New

Art and skiing do mix, and local professional photographers Xavier Fane and Raynor Czerwinski are out to prove just that with six Nordic photography workshops offered from January through March. Learn how to photograph winter in a number of ways, accessing subject matter on Nordic skis or snowshoes. Workshops cost $55 each and include a Nordic ski pass but not equipment. For times, equipment needed and registration, go to http://www.crestedbuttearts.org.

January 22 – Let the Right Light In (Fane) & New Moon Milky Way (Czerwinski)
• February 19 – Catching the Action (Fane) & Photographing the Earth Shadow (Czerwinski)
• March 18 – Playing With the Stars (Fane) & Winter Landscape Photography (Czerwinski)

Western State College of Colorado’s popular Wednesdays at Western has expanded to include winter. A Cross-Country Ski Outing for Beginners led by Karen Immerso will be offered on Jan. 11 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Transportation from WSC’s campus in Gunnison to the Crested Butte Nordic Center and a sack lunch are included in the $30 cost but not equipment. To register, call (800) 876 5309, ext 7.

The inaugural Ski For Hope Nordic Challenge on March 10 will take place on Crested Butte Nordic trails. The challenge will include a 25k competitive race, and a Ski-a-thon will be a fun event for all ages and creatures. Ski-a-thon participants will be encouraged to collect pledges per lap, and prizes will be awarded for most funds raised, team efforts, most laps by a dog, dog sled teams and more. The registration fee for both events is $30. All proceeds benefit Living Journeys, Gunnison County’s community cancer support network. For more information and to register, go to www.livingjourneys.org.

Gunnison Nordic Club

The Gunnison Nordic Club has greatly expanded its calendar events for the 2011/2012 season with several new clinics and events tapping the outstanding backcountry routes and groomed trails at Hartman Rocks Multi-Use Recreation Area along with VanTuyl Ranch, Western State College’s practice field, Jorgensen Park and other options near town. The Gunnison Nordic Club grooms approximately 45K of trails. For more information, visit www.gunnisonnordic.net.

Races

  • The Glide into the 2012 Freestyle Race on Dec. 31 at 10 a.m. takes place on groomed trails in Crested Butte South and benefits the Gunnison Junior Nordic Team. There will be freestyle races and a relative relay (get your cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles out on skis!). The cost is $20 for adults and relay teams and $5 for kids.
  • Every Wednesday in January brings a new challenge on skis at the Acli-Mate Wednesday FUN Races—obstacle courses, sprints, slowest race, etc. Go to Jorgensen Park for a 4 p.m. start. The cost is $5 per Wednesday.
  • Think back on how Nordic skiing started: knickers, wool sweaters, leather boots and wooden skis. That’s the theme of this year’s Kenny Mac Ski Fest – It’s a Birthday Party! on Jan. 28 at Hartman Rocks. There is a 9:30 a.m. start for .25K, 1K and 3K races for kids and a 10 a.m. start for the 30K and 15K races and tours. The cost is $20 for adults and $5 for kids. There will be a post party, costume contest, prizes and raffle for all participants.

Free Tours

  • Skiers taking part in the Moonlight Bonfire Ski Across VanTuyl Ranch on Feb. 10 will park at Gunnison Community Schools and ski to the bonfire. Hot drinks and snacks provided.
  • On Feb. 1 and Feb. 11, Ski Tours to the Jorgensen Cabin will kick off at 10 a.m. and follow the Lost Canyon road until connecting with a narrower snowmobile route to the cabin, where hot chocolate will be waiting. The tour is 28K round trip. To sign up, email gunnisonnordic@gmail.com.

Clinics

  • In December, Brian Smith, the local Fast Wax representative, will be offering free wax clinics at the new Jorgensen Events Center Nordic Room (dates to be announced).
  • Olympian Ingrid Butts will teach a Skate Ski Lunchtime Clinic on Dec. 21 on the WSC practice fields. Cost is $10 for members and $25 non-members.
  • Gregg Morin will offer a Learn to Classic Nordic Ski Series on three Saturdays, Dec. 17, Dec. 31 and Jan. 7, from 10 – 11:30 a.m. The series is for beginner to intermediate skiers, will take place at Jorgensen Park and beyond, and is free to members or $15 for non-members. (This is still on for this Saturday with or without snow)
  • Olympian Rebecca Dussault will offer skate ski clinics in January, with dates and times to be announced.
  • For more information and reservations for ski clinics, call Joellen at (970) 275-3516. Most clinics are limited to 10 people.

Crested Butte Nordic Center

The Crested Butte Nordic Center is a full-service cross-country ski center providing lessons and complete rental packages for skate and classical skiing, as well as ice skating, snowshoeing and sledding. The Nordic Center maintains more than 55 kilometers of groomed trails and will be open from Nov. 19, 2011 – April 8, 2012. Call (970) 349-1707 or visit www.cbnordic.org.

Learn to Skate Ski for Free! clinics are offered at 1 p.m. on Jan. 5, Feb. 2 and March 1. Reduced-priced ski rentals are available.

Citizens’ Races are scheduled for Dec. 17 and Jan. 7, 14 and 21, with the race length and style changing each week. Participants must register at the Nordic Center by 9:30 a.m. on race day, with the start at 10 p.m. (with the exception being Dec. 17 with registration from 9 – 11 a.m. and a 11:30 a.m. race start) The cost is $12 for adults ($10 for members), $2 for children under age 12.

Brunch at the Yurt is a premiere way to spend a Sunday or New Year’s morning with selections prepared by personal chef Tim Egelhoff. Put on skis or snowshoes to get there and back at your own pace on Jan. 1, Feb. 5 and March 18. The cost is $25 for adults and $10 for kids under age 12. Ski passes and rentals are extra. Brunch runs from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Reservations required.

Moonlight Yurt Dinner Tours involve an easy snowshoe or Nordic ski to Magic Meadows for a dinner prepared by personal chef Tim Egelhoff on Dec. 23; Jan. 14; Feb. 7, 14, 19; and March 8 and 17. Doors open at 6 p.m. and dinner is served at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $65 for adults and $30 for children under age 12 and includes a trail pass and equipment rental but not gratuity or alcohol. A New Year’s Eve party at the yurt will feature dinner, drinks and live music from 7 – 10 p.m. The cost is $85 per person (beer and wine included). A second New Year’s Eve wave will begin at 10:30 p.m. and includes drinks and music for $25. Reservations required.

26th Annual Alley Loop Nordic Marathon on Feb. 4 has been selected to join the American Ski Marathon Series and is an American Birkebeiner qualifier. Starting and finishing on Elk Avenue and winding through alleyways, streets and trails located on the outskirts of town, Alley Loop features course lengths of 1.5K, 3K, 5K, 10K, 21K and 42K allowing all skill levels and ages to participate (many in costume). Registration costs and start times vary.

Super Tour is a 22.5K backcountry ski event slated for March 3. It’s a race for those who like to go fast, or it can be skied as a loosely-guided tour. The tour starts at 8 a.m. at the Gothic Road trailhead in Mt. Crested Butte and circumnavigates Gothic Mountain, but is a challenging ski with a steep 2,000-foot climb and a sometimes fast downhill. Shovels, probes, beacons, full skins and a COSAR card are required. The cost is $35.

Backcountry tours are for those who want to adventure off the groomed trails. Full-day tours start at 9 a.m. and include lunch, while half-day tours are three hours and start at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. or by appointment. The cost is $65 per person for half day and $95 per person for full day, including transportation, rentals and a guide. All tours require advance reservations and have a two-person minimum. Crested Butte Mountain Guides also offers Nordic skiing and snowshoeing adventures; visit www.crestedbutteguides.com.

To find out more about Gunnison County or to book personalized vacation packages, call the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association’s toll-free line, (800) 814-8893, or visit www.GunnisonCrestedButte.com. Find the Tourism Association on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gcbta or follow on www.twitter.com/gcbta.

The Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport is served year-round by United Airlines with flights from Denver and during the winter season by American Airlines and Continental Airlines.

For more travel features, visit:

www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

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