Dance parties and powder; the ladies of Smith Optics take on the Crested Butte backcountry
Last March, Smith Optics brought together members of its ski team in Crested Butte, Colorado to film an edit for the company’s Great Days video series. What made this trip unique, and a lot more fun, is that all of the athletes were female. The goal of the trip was to highlight the rad women that have represented Smith Optics for so many years, but the end result was an action packed week of good times that saw these ladies create memories to last a lifetime. The following story, written by Smith Team Manager Gabe Schroder, sheds some light on what went down in Crested Butte.
The 6 a.m. wake-up call wasn’t brutally early, but with another spontaneous dance party lasting deep into the night, the crew was moving a bit slow this morning. Despite the sluggish start, I knew our group of ladies, including Rachael Burks, Tatum Monod, Lexi Dupont and Pip Hunt, would be ready to charge when the time came. After a quick 10 minute bump in the pimped out Irwin Guides snow cat, we were fixing skins to skis and following guide Megan Paden into the Crested Butte backcountry in search of dynamic terrain and a great day in the mountains. A couple of hours later we were boot packing up massive rock lined couloirs. Eventually we stood on top of the Green Lake Chutes, a ridge featuring the type of terrain we were looking for; steep chutes with wide open run outs and plenty of options to catch air.
Upon gaining the ridge, the group wasted no time in using the landmarks they scouted from below to locate exactly where they wanted to drop in from the top. Some of the lines closed out into massive cliffs, while others offered little sneaks, and knowing precisely where to go was mandatory while trying to bag shots in this complex terrain. With boots being buckled and nerves steadied, the athletes made their final preparations before dropping down the biggest lines of the week. Being deep in the backcountry on top of consequential terrain was a departure from the previous days where dance parties and group runs lightened the vibe and set the tone for the trip.
Smith Optics’ Great Days.
Upon our arrival at the Irwin Guides cat skiing area two days earlier, we came on the tail end of a high pressure system and were greeted with challenging conditions. Scratching around this amazing tenure, we couldn’t help but think how a bit of fresh snow would do wonders for our mission. After a few runs we retreated to the cozy cabin for a gourmet lunch and to figure out the plans for the afternoon. As if Mother Nature realized our predicament, a lunchtime squall hit the area dropping four inches of snow in just a couple of hours and immediately it was game on.
With their spirits lifted, the excitement these ladies exuded could not be contained and when not skiing, this energy was displayed in the form of dance parties. Dancing in or just outside of the snow cat, on top of a line, or outside of the cabins, this group let loose with the type of stoke not seen on a guy’s trip, adding a lot to the overall feeling. Another factor that boosted the group’s morale was the presence of long time Smith athlete Wendy Fisher. Wendy has called Crested Butte home for close to 20 years and during that time she put women’s big mountain skiing on the map as one of MSP Films’ main athletes. Her hard charging Alaska footage inspired countless skiers, and her presence really seemed to resonate with this group of ladies who are now following her path of churning out impressive film segments. After two days of cat skiing with Irwin Guides in which faceshots were had, cat tracks were gapped and backflips stomped, the ladies were feeling good about the trip so far and eager for the big backcountry day that lay ahead.
Back on top of the Green Lake Chutes, the walkie-talkie cackled to life as the ladies announced they were ready to drop in on their lines. With the guides in position, the filmers ready and the athletes all set, the countdown came in over the radio and one by one, they dropped down their chosen routes. Despite an awkward layer just under the fresh snow, these ladies showed why they are some of the best skiers in the game as they flashed these lines without hesitation, nailing their landmarks, stomping their airs and making the challenging conditions look like pure hero snow.
With a boot pack already in place, the decision to make a second run was an easy one, and having confidence in the tricky but stable spring snowpack, the ladies double-teamed some runs this time around, adding to the feeling of camaraderie that was so present on this trip. After another big night of dancing, the group headed to Crested Butte Mountain Resort for a relaxed spring day of riding chairlifts and shredding in unzipped jackets and sunglasses, keeping the party vibe going on this amazing experience. As we piled into the Smith van and left town that evening, the energy this crew carried all week finally left them, but as we sped into the night, talk of the next adventure and next dance party showed these ladies were not done yet.