When we haul our skis all the way to Crested Butte, it’s usually for the powder—not the posh. After all, the Butte’s reputation lies in the epic steeps of a peak called the Banana Funnel. But new snowcat outfitter CS Irwin, which shuttles skiers and boarders to the Elk Mountains in a cat equipped with a flatscreen and a leather interior, just might change our thinking.
Irwin is an old mining town about 12 miles west of Crested Butte that gets hammered with up to three times the snow the resort sees. (The 2007-2008 season broke 1,000 inches.) Home base for the full-day outing to the Irwin region is the on-mountain chalet, a renovated log-cabin retreat—complete with fireplace, Wi-Fi, and big screen—that was featured in the ’70s classic Mountain Family Robinson. Guides are equal parts extreme skiers and concierges, and gourmet lunch ranges from elk chili to Japanese noodle dishes.
Not tony enough? This season, the company is opening Scarp Ridge Lodge, an exclusive cat skiing resort in the heart of Crested Butte; the cat picks up guests outside the lodge, which is staffed with an in-house masseuse and private chef. “There are a lot of snowcat operations in Colorado,” says Alan Bernholtz, director of operations, “but the market was looking for something that offered soft edges to the model.”
This is not to take away from the actual, you know, skiing: Lose yourself in Irwin’s cloudlike powder fields or take on the harrowing chutes off of Scarp Ridge. “We want everyone to have a good run, every time,” Bernholtz says. “But we didn’t want to sacrifice luxury to have an adventure.”