Erica Reiter is riding fast, leaving puffs of snow in her wake and deep trenches slashed across immaculate corduroy. She seems at home here on this wild mountain in a remote part of Colorado, far from cities and crowds. A mountain studded with cliffs and couloirs, with an honest-to-God mining heritage and populated by ski bums, retired miners, and urban refugees. Yes, she’s at home here. Because beyond the miles she’s spent on snow, the World Cup snowboard races she’s competed in, and the powder days she’s enjoyed in exotic locations like the Alps, this mountain is home. After all, her family runs Crested Butte.
I’ve come to Crested Butte because I’m looking for a different kind of ski area—one that isn’t conglomerate-owned or publically traded, like those in the Vail Resorts or Intrawest portfolio of mountains. I’m curious about what happens when management and ownership are passed down from generation to generation and the owners and the community become intertwined. I want to speak with those who have seen their jobs last for years and years, and who have raised their children on the local hill. And ultimately I want to know what it feels like at a ski area where the guy at the top—the boss—actually loves to ski.