Monday, August 31, 2009

Rippin' It at Crested Butte

Holy bejeezzus! A force in the universe opened up and swallowed me whole, rendering me unable to access blogville. Until now.

Arrived in CB on a Saturday evening after calling ahead to Big Mountain Sports in the hopes we'd pick up the steeds. Dang- we'd have to wait until Sunday am. Remember the Tour de? Well, Pete at BMS has a Boonen fetish and had to put us off until after the Champs d'Elysee's bunch sprint, which I reminded him would end with Cav' thundering home ( And oh my god did he! )

At 11:30 Pete showed up and we headed out to Hartman Rocks thinking we'd get in a couple of low altitude(7500') miles before the seasonal afternoon T-storms roll in.

We hit the trailhead opposite a car dump a la The Hill Have Eyes, sure we'd be harvested for our organs if we hung around and accepted the hospitality of strangers.

Rode there over dusty trail and exposed syenite for an hour or so before the predictable lightning fueled end. Hartman's the high desert and a world away from CB's lush meadows and mountain side forests. The two areas are different and in my eyes, CB is more to my liking. OH yes, WAY.

Sunday night we spent much of the night lying awake in the hostel bunks in what ended up being a private room for a week. I pity the next tenants since we kept the "drawer of doom" stocked with stinking clothing... a stink that would take a week or two to fade fo sho. We even cringed when we'd enter the room and prop the door open to let the beastly cloud dissipate. "What IS that smell?"

Overnight, Clayton and I decided to hit the biggie on Monday and awoke to clear skies, an auspicious sign which we took to be affirmation to ride the 403 and 401. 5 hours and 40 miles later, the morning's bold decision panned out. The 403 and 401 are dominated by alpine meadows and ripping bench cut narrows. The 403 has a reputation for its steepness and technical sections. It had both, including the last mile of switchbacks grown in with bar-high flowers. East coast experience kicked in and we flew the whole 403, wondering why guides recommend dismounting and eeek, walking, several sections. Still it's fist bump worthy as you'll see here:

We kept on, topping out on Gothic at the trailhead for the 401 and after a breath robbing climb to about 12,000', began the sweetest highspeed downhill rip I've ever ridden- freakin' superfast sidecut on sometimes 60 degree slopes through meadows of delphiniums, sunflowers and skunk cabbage up to your shoulders in places, punctuated by switchbacks and crushed flowers- evidence of crashes. It felt like being on the edge with falling a non-option, so we didn't and instead cruised at mach 1 until finally the descent ended a half hour later. Giddy? Check. Shiteatingrin? Check!

5 hours later we rolled into CB, delirious with joy and fatigue. Kidz. Write down Crested Butte 403 and 401 on a piece of paper and put it in your wallet. It is one of your raison d'etre must-dos.
I'll pen more in the coming days including some pics and vids including the 401 and Monarch Crest which was all it is built up to be- alpine meadows and hours of downhill as fast as you dare.