Archive for the ‘Nordic skiing’ Category

Crested Butte Hosts Two Distinct Nordic Ski Races – Alley Loop and Elk Mountains Grand Traverse

January 3, 2012

The Alley Loop Nordic Ski Race is one of the events that have put Crested Butte Mountain Resort on the map (photo courtesy of Xavier Fane/Crested Butte Nordic Center).

The 26th annual Alley Loop and 15th annual Elk Mountains Grand Traverse are two distinct ski races that have helped put Crested Butte, Colo., on the map as a place that does everything with its own distinctive style. Both have new happenings to announce for 2012 and are spearheaded by Crested Butte Nordic Center.

Alley Loop, February 4
Growing in prestige and numbers over the past decade, the Crested Butte Nordic Council’s Alley Loop has been selected to join the American Ski Marathon Series (ASM Series), North America’s longest-running and largest citizen’s racing and touring series. Already an American Birkebeiner qualifier, the Alley Loop drew more than 550 skiers from 17 states in 2011.

With 14 races from Vermont to Alaska, the ASM Series includes such renowned events as the American Birkebeiner, Yellowstone Rendezvous and Tour of Anchorage. The Gunnison Valley Health Alley Loop is one of only four races in the western United States and the only Colorado event in the series. “We’ve been wanting to add another western event for a number of years,” says J.D. Downing, director of the American Ski Marathon Series, “and the Alley Loop ended up being the perfect fit.”

The 26th annual Gunnison Valley Health Alley Loop, known for its fun spirit and participation from both serious and not-so-serious costumed racers of all ages, is scheduled for Feb. 4, 2012. The competition is distinguished by a unique course that starts and finishes on the town’s main street, Elk Avenue, before meandering through snow-lined alleys, behind false-fronted Victorian buildings, over footbridges, alongside residences and out to groomed trails in the outskirts of town. Ranging from 1.5 and 3 kilometer races for children and families to half and full marathons, crowds line the streets and alleys to cheer on racers.

The 1.5 and 3 kilometer races begin at 9:30 a.m., and the rest start at intervals beginning at 10 a.m. New Belgium Brewing’s Taste of the Alley Beer Garden on the deck of the Brick Oven offers a great spot to watch the action and socialize from noon to 4 p.m. Registration is now open on the Crested Butte Nordic Center’s website at Complete information about the ASM Series can be found at

Elk Mountains Grand Traverse, March 29 – 31
One of the most sought-after and rugged backcountry ski races on the planet celebrates 15 years of memorable moments and amazing athletic feats on March 29 – 31. The GORE-TEX Elk Mountains Grand Traverse presented by Outdoor Research and Dynafit follows historic mail routes that connected the Colorado mining towns of Crested Butte and Aspen in the 1880s.

Kicking off at the stroke of midnight on March 30, the Grand Traverse is a one-of-a-kind test of endurance and smarts, requiring avalanche awareness, backcountry athleticism, winter camping knowledge and map reading skills all wrapped in one. This unusual start time is scheduled so entrants will reach the high point of Star Pass at 12,303 feet before the warmth of the day increases the likelihood of avalanches. The 40-mile course starts at 9,000 feet at Crested Butte Community School and traverses to Crested Butte Mountain Resort, where cheering crowds greet racers as they pass through the base area just below the Silver Queen lift. After conquering two mountain passes, the teams finish at the base of Aspen Mountain ski area on March 31 and celebrate that evening with a cocktail party, dinner and awards in Aspen.

“The Grand Traverse is not a Nordic or downhill race, but instead tests skiers overall skills and goes from town-to-town, covering 40 miles of rugged trails in the Elk Mountains. Every event dishes up new surprises for contestants and organizers,” says Keith Bauer, director of the Crested Butte Nordic Center, which has assumed responsibility of the race from a group of longtime volunteers.

A two-day registration and expo are new for this year. Because of the remote route, each team of two is required to carry enough food and supplies to sustain themselves for 24 hours. Upon registration, the team’s packs are checked for essential gear such as a two-person shelter, stove, fuel, shovel, probe, first-aid kit and equipment repair items.

Sponsors Dynafit and Outdoor Research will have product demonstrations available at the base of CBMR, and racers can take part in a “skin with the pros” on March 29 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and March 30 from 7:30 – 9 a.m. The tour will follow the section of course that crosses CBMR terrain and give competitors a chance to do some final equipment tweaks with the help of experienced Grand Traverse racers. On Thursday evening, race organizers will have a film festival featuring backcountry ski movies at the Lodge at Mountaineer Square, which is free to all racers and open to the public for $8 per person.

Registration for the Grand Traverse sold out within 30 minutes on Dec. 1, with 150 teams of two filling the slots. To see if any openings become available, watch the Elk Mountains Grand Traverse Facebook page. Trackleaders will provide SPOT-based so the progress of all racers can be monitored on and

Crested Butte Nordic Center Facts
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 guided backcountry tours, yurt dinners and brunches, ice skating, snowshoeing and sledding. The Nordic Center maintains more than 55 kilometers of groomed trails that meander through and around Crested Butte.

Located in the heart of town at Second Street and Whiterock, the Nordic Center will be open for the season from Nov. 19, 2011 – April 8, 2012 and is connected to Crested Butte Mountain Resort and various stops in Crested Butte by the free Mountain Express bus. For more information about the Crested Butte Nordic Center and its winter 2011/2012 calendar of events, visit

Visitor Information & Personalized Vacation Packages
To find out more about events or to book vacation packages, call the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association’s at (800) 814-8893 or visit Find the Tourism Association on Facebook at or follow on The Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport is served year-round by United Airlines and during the winter season by American Airlines and Continental Airlines.

About Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado
Gunnison-Crested Butte is nestled among almost two million acres of pristine wilderness in southwest Colorado. Winter sports enthusiasts know the area for its world-class alpine skiing and snowboarding at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. Gunnison-Crested Butte is also a haven for outdoor summer activities. In the warmer months, visitors can choose from recreational activities such as hiking, climbing, mountain biking, boating, whitewater rafting, kayaking, fly-fishing, camping and horseback riding. Year-round visitors enjoy distinctive restaurants, unique shops and stimulating cultural opportunities, and have a wide range of lodging options — from rustic inns to guest cabins and bed-and-breakfasts to full-service resort hotels.

Gunnison, county seat and a real Western town, is home to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport, Gunnison Whitewater Park, Gunnison Valley Observatory, Pioneer Museum and Western State College, a four-year institution offering majors in the liberal arts and sciences and professional fields. Both Crested Butte and Gunnison have thriving historic central business districts packed with shopping and dining opportunities.

Recognized as the “Official Wildflower Capital of Colorado” by the Colorado Legislature and one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” in 2008, Crested Butte is 28 miles from Gunnison and the site of rich mining, ranching and skiing heritage and home to the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Only three miles up the road is the resort village of Mt. Crested Butte, home to the ski area, an active base area, the area’s conference center, and outstanding hiking and biking trails.

Marble is located in the Upper Crystal River Valley along the Elk Mountains and is the gateway to nearby Crystal, home to one of the most photographed mill sites in the country. Marble has seven sites on the National Register of Historic Places and is the location of the Yule Marble Quarry.

In Gunnison County, visitors will find the Curecanti National Recreation Area, where dinosaur fossils were recently discovered; the Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest body of water and home to the largest Kokanee salmon fishery in the United States; and The Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Gunnison County includes the quaint and historic towns of Pitkin, Gothic, Tin Cup, Powderhorn, Almont and Crystal. Gunnison County is part of the West Elk Loop and Silver Thread Scenic & Historic Byways.

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Nordic Skiing Booming in the Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado

December 14, 2011

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

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

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


  • 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


  • 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

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

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 Find the Tourism Association on Facebook at or follow on

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.

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