Back Story on how we ended up in Crested Butte
Many of our members here on SkiTalk are familiar with the username @Jack skis, but I doubt many really know the depth of his life in the ski world and just how much passion he holds in his heart and soul for skiing, let alone the connection to the community here at SkiTalk and on the mountain that he calls home. Without repeating Jack's storied life, you can read it here: Crested Butte News Profile: Jack Nixon
Several years ago Jack invited us to come ski with him at his home mountain, Crested Butte, but things kept pulling us in various directions, making it difficult to fit such a trip into our winter schedule. This year the changes in demos lined up in a way that we had a gap in our travels between Loveland, CO and Brighton, UT, making for a pefect detour to Crested Butte to make this happen. After reaching out to Jack with our intentions, he replied enthusastically about the opportunity to show us his home mountain, but along with few other site members, they encouraged us to stop by Monarch Mountain on our way to visit him.
The recommendations to visit Monarch were not wrong. When we reached out to Monarch about stopping to ski, their marketing team filled us in on some fun facts about the mountain, its snow pack, and where we could catch some amazing views of some of Colorado's incredible 14ers. This super fun mountain does not disappoint. Monarch has a very cool vibe with lots of tree skiing, and bonus for us, some fresh snow to play around. The conditions we were fortunate enough to experience were exceptional. When we asked some of the locals if these were the norm, they first qualified us by asking where we were from as if they didn't want to let us in on their secret stash. Then reluctantly, they said yes, Monarch is usually that good.
It was truly refreshing to slow down time and experience a day at a mountain that was void of high speed quads and rows of townhomes and hotels. Viva la ski area over the ski resort. We hope we will be invited back to do a full report on their cat skiing which I hear is arguably the best in Colorado . We would rather come to that conclusion ourselves.
Monarch Mountain touts 350 inches of snow per year, 800 skiable acres, 670 of which are lift served, as well as a cat skiing experience which some of our SkiTalk members have taken advantage of this season.
On to Crested Butte
After we finished up our amazing day at Monarch, we made the 2 hour journey to Crested Butte where we were greeted by Jack, and though he's nearly 89 years old, he had the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning. Jack met us in his condo's parking garage and he was proudly wearing his SkiTalk hat and Pugski quarterzip. We quickly settled into a cozy mountainside condo by unpacking in our room, which had a beautiful view of the mountain, and and then we enjoyed a dinner at Jose's, a nice Mexican restaurant within walking distance. There, we were treated to some amazing stories of Jack's varied experiences in the ski industry, some experiences not in the ski industry, and how much his life with his lovely wife Gwen, and their 5 children, filled his heart. The love and admiration that Jack has for Gwen was so obvious with every word he spoke of her was heartwarming. After dinner, we retired to bed early to get ready for a morning on snow.
When we woke up to fresh snow and more snow coming down as we prepared to hit the slopes. Jack started his SkiTraks app and said, "Today is day 61 for me." I thought ...That's incredible especially since it was only day 40 for me. He then cautioned us that he was prone to visibilty issues on snowy days and would only be able to take us on some of the mellow trails, but the pride he showed and the added details of Crested Butte Mountain were that of someone who clearly has a long history on this amazing mountain. He surprised us by booking a private lesson in the afternoon with his son, Dave, who is an examiner-level instructor with over 40 years teaching at Crested Butte, to show us around in the afternoon and see parts of the mountain that we may have missed without his guidance or weeks skiing there.
After the morning on snow with Jack, I decided to switch up skis because I started on my SkiTalk Siderals (77mm) but it had been snowing consistently, and I was ready for something a bit wider, especially since we were likely going to get into some adventurous terrain with Dave (Mac).
Jack really booked Dave to show us around, but anyone who knows me at all, knows that I will always seize the opportunity to get a lesson, anything to improve my skiing. Dave was excited to hear that and spent the next three hours not only showing us some cool terrain, but also giving us a full throttle bump lesson. This experience was so much fun that we ended our lesson/guided tour near the base at 4:15, long after the usual 2 PM end of day that we are accustomed to.
That evening Jack made reservations at a locally known fried chicken place called The Slogar, which is an 1880's brothel location that serves a fixed family style menu with comfort food and some of the best fried chicken we've ever had. During dinner we were treated to more stories of Jack's adventures, from working customs in Alaska, working at Big Sky for over 10 years, and Masters racing with Gwen. Note: If you're in Crested Butte and looking for a place to eat, I'd highly recommend The Slogar. If you can do it with Jack and get a chance to absorb some of his adventurous life, DO IT
Day two at Crested Butte was a Saturday and proved to be a little more crowded than day one
managable, so we explored some of the terrain that we enjoyed the day before, then made our way back to the base to enjoy some leftover chicken for lunch with Jack, as well as more stories of his adventures from Colorado, Washington State, Alaska, and Big Sky. I will add here that many of these were experienced through the windshield of numerous VW Vans.
The last evening we were with Jack, he said he has found that he needs to live a life of discipline to make sure he keeps moving. He gets up in the morning and has his iced tea, gets ready to ski and makes sure he skis nearly every day. He also talked about how important the Skitalk community is to him to keep his enthusiasm for skiing, ski racing and maintain the ability to have conversations with members of this site. SkiTalk is a part of his disciplined day. He made sure to ask about many of the people that are regulars and what they were like to ski and spend time with.
There are many take-aways from this trip to visit Jack, not the least of which is, embrace life, be adventurous, and if you're thinking about doing something that can enrich your life, do it. I would like to think that we all enjoy skiing with the heart of a child, but no one exudes that more than Jack. I left his condo after our visit with a renewed spirit and an extra dose of love for skiing. And lastly, if there is a member of this site that is thinking,"I'd like to meet and ski with that person," please find a way and do it. Just make it happen, you will not be disappointed and I am sure he will feel the same. Life is just too short.