A Perfect Long Weekend with Deep Pow in Crested
A Perfect Long Weekend with Deep Pow in Crested Butte
Outside GO founders Chip and Sandy Cunningham spend the weekend cat-skiing with a group of great friends and the amazing crew at Scarp Ridge Lodge to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in style!
STORY BY SANDY CUNNINGHAM
How does one surprise their husband for their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary?
That’s no mean feat when you've been working and playing together 24/7 for the past 25 years. I knew it had to be something epic; after all, this is the guy who gave me the choice of a ring or to travel around the world for a year when he proposed. I chose the latter and we headed to Kenya where our honeymoon ended up lasting almost six years.
25 years later, I was wracking my brain for inspiration. Finally, divine intervention struck and a cat-skiing trip to Crested Butte was set in motion.
Let’s be clear, I am no powder hound. I am a strong skier, but I find skiing trees intimidating. I can fly down a well-groomed black run channeling my inner Lindsey Vonn all day. Crested Butte was going to be the perfect place to test my powder skills. And such an epic escape warranted inviting a few good friends. To my delight they all showed up at the very last minute!
With every trip there comes a hiccup, and for my husband that was a call from his doctor the day before we left saying there was absolutely no way he could ski with his lower back injury. Needless to say, we were both disappointed. Chip taught skiing in Gstaad, Switzerland for a decade and has heli-skied all over the world. Cat-skiing in Crested Butte would have been the cherry on top, but luckily he would still find ways to have a great time.
A spectacular but snowy drive up to Crested Butte set the scene for what was going to be a truly epic powder weekend. As we neared the brightly colored town, towering cliffs of snow drifts got larger and larger, and the snowflakes began to fall again. Bear in mind they had to close the ski resort the week before because they had too much snow! We pulled up to Scarp Ridge Lodge where cleansing juices and an incredible team welcomed us and got us all settled. Our lockers were assigned and ski boots ferried away for custom fittings for our powder skis while Chip stared at his snowshoes intently.
Scarp Ridge Lodge is a historic two-story building (it's actually a former brothel) that has been turned into a boutique outpost. With five spacious suites and a massive bunk room, you can book the lodge à la carte or take it over with family and friends.
An indoor pool and hot tub on the ground level met the husband’s seal of approval. There was even an outdoor tub located on the roof-top terrace, where the steam rose above layers of deep fresh powder. Another nod of approval from Chip did not go unnoticed—and ultimately, he would languish in these spots for hours on end. Every nook of this spectacular lodge pays homage to the rich mining history of the area. Nothing is over the top but the level of understated luxury and service blew us all away!
That evening we enjoyed a spectacular dinner complete with a round or two of cocktails and non-stop laughter that set the mood for the weekend. We set off to bed soon after as the next morning we would need to rise and shine for an early departure up to the cat-skiing base camp.
"Our Outside GO Crested Butte experience was the perfect combination of adventure and luxury. The staff and lodge's attention to detail was unparalleled. Plus, the cat-skiing was INSANE!" –Kyle Marie Deighan
We awoke to a breakfast spread that defied description, piled into our ski gear, and the "Tucker" a tricked out snow cat–rolled up right outside the lodge in town. This state-of-the-art mega cat would be our ride to the backside of Mount Crested Butte. Unable to see anything outside as the snow was falling thick and heavy, we watched epic ski videos and anticipated the adventure ahead.
We arrived at the "Movie Hut" a tiny, perfectly placed cabin with everything one would need (fireplace, music, hot chocolate, leather sofas, beer) we popped on our boots, polished our goggles, made sure we had all our skis and poles together, and set off on our first run of the day. Chip and Karen (one of our friends who was also nursing an injury) joined us to do some snowshoeing. Another, smaller snow cat took us farther up the mountain, and again with limited visibility we had absolutely no idea where we were going nor what any of the terrain looked like.
Finally we arrived and jumped down off the cat down into deep powder. It was a struggle to get our skis on with so much white stuff! Finally all toggled up, our guides (1 guide to every guest) gave us another safety briefing and talked about the terrain and potential conditions. We tested our avalanche beacons and were off on our first run of the day. “Wow” does not even start to describe the first run…or the second, third, or fourth. At the end of every run was a traverse out to where the cat was waiting to take us up again.
Our guides were world class and knew every inch of the terrain. They gave us invaluable tips and instruction on every run.
After four runs, we headed back to the "Movie Hut" for a steaming hot lunch of French onion soup, pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, a massive salad, and huge mouthwatering cookies. After a few more runs we headed back to the lodge the same way, this time with a little more visibility.
Some of our friends took the time to have a massage or languish in the hot tubs before we headed across the street to Sunflower. What a culinary feast in little Crested Butte! The restaurant is actually a co-op and three different owners operate three completely different businesses for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I think we tried everything on the menu and nothing disappointed. With the wine flowing it was the perfect way to celebrate 25 years married!
Sunday brought another early start and another mountain hut. This one was much larger and housed the cats as well as a huge sprawling living and dining area that I never wanted to leave. The sun was shining and we were going to hit the wide-open bowls. We skied, jumped off cliffs, and all had epic falls buried deep in powder. Nothing has ever come even close to such complete and utter powder perfection. Another incredible lunch (this time a rich butternut bisque, a power food salad, and French dip with au jus), filled us up for our last and final runs of the weekend. My friend Kyle and I opted out early and were whizzed back down to the lodge on a high-speed snowmobile run. More hot-tubbing, cocktails, and a fajita dinner completed our three-night anniversary stay at Scarp Ridge Lodge.
"The Outside GO cat-skiing experience in Crested Butte was absolutely over the top. Luxury, service, safety, and smiles. From the moment we arrived until the time we departed–it was an 11 star experience."
-Brian & Karin Boyd
GO CAT SKIING AT THE SCARP RIDGE LODGE
If you like to ski and want to really immerse yourself in powder terrain without heading up in choppers, or if you happen to be an enthusiastic powder skier, this is the trip for you. Even if you don’t ski, the abundance of amazing activities in Crested Butte means there is something for everyone. You can hit the slopes of the ski mountain, cross-country ski on miles of Nordic trails, or join the powder hounds for some epic snowshoeing in some of the most breathtaking back country in the west.
Scarp Ridge Lodge is the ultimate Outside GO base camp. Use it as a romantic getaway to escape the kids for a long weekend or take the whole place over and make it a family and friends adventure getaway that will go down in the history books as one of the best trips ever.
Take advantage of one of the greatest snow seasons in Crested Butte and book now through mid-April. Prefer a summer getaway? The endless activities in Crested Butte don't stop when the seasons change. Fly-fishing, hiking, and mountain biking are all among favorites. It's also the wildflower capital of Colorado with an exceptional dining and art scene.
Outside GO is an adventure travel company with decades of experience. We'd love to help you plan your next trip. Rest assured it will be authentic, stylish, and built around your wildest dreams.
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