Skiing Crested Butte Extremes from the High Lift

Skiing Crested Butte extremes from the High Lift will get you into some of the resort’s steepest and most scenic terrain. As the name suggests, it’s also the highest-altitude lift at Crested Butte, topping out at nearly 12,000 feet in elevation. The double-black terrain off the High Lift includes some of the most challenging and technical ski runs in Colorado. Any skier or rider venturing into this area should be proficient at the sport. Usually the High Lift opens in January. From The Peak, to Headwall, to the Teocalli Bowls, this guide to skiing the Crested Butte extremes from the High Lift describes everything you need to know about this gnarly zone.

Looking up at the steep ridge of Teo 2 at Crested Butte on a sunny winter day.

The Teocalli Bowls

Teo 2

Teocalli 2 Bowl, affectionately nicknamed Teo 2, only opens under certain snow conditions as determined by ski patrol. Skiing this playful zone is quite a treat for locals and visitors alike. As with Teocalli Bowl, the snow here stays soft and deep longer than the resort’s easier-to-get-to runs.

Where is Teo 2?

Teo 2’s location at the far south end of the resort gives a feeling of being in the backcountry. Teo 2 is rated double-black diamond due to its remote location. Getting there requires a long traverse from the top of the High Lift. After you ski to the bottom of the bowl, there is also a mandatory hike out. The terrain itself is actually less steep than Teocalli Bowl and most of the resort’s other double-black runs.

After traversing from the top of High Lift and through the Teo 2 gate, take a moment to soak in the gorgeous view from the ridgetop. The entire Gunnison Valley lies below you, with its winding rivers and snow-globe towns.

Skiing Teo 2

When you’ve taken in the view and are ready to ski, here’s what to expect: The top of Teo 2 Bowl is littered with huge boulders. This area is called Outta Sight Outta Mind. Sendy skiers can take their pick of rocks to jump off here, but there is also an obvious route between the rocks that allows your skis to stay safely on the ground. If you stay left below the boulder field, you’ll descend into a long glade filled with small trees. If you bear right, you’ll ski through an open run called Ghost Rider. The bowl terminates in a road, which is where the hike out begins. Hike towards skier’s left (north). The hike takes about 15-20 minutes and drops into the top of Paradise Bowl.

A skier skis through a few inches of fresh powder on a bluebird Colorado day in Teo Bowl.

Teocalli Bowl

Teocalli Bowl is one of the highest bowls at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. It’s a gladed bowl between Headwall and Teo 2. Enter at the gate at the top of High Lift, where you’ll find signs and maps of the zone.

Skiing Teocalli Bowl

Traverse skier’s left to ski Morning Glory and Teo Tongue, which is the easiest way down (but still expert terrain). In the middle of the bowl is a large, steep glade, which includes Uecker Glades, Town Park and Jack in the Box Glades. Traverse far right to ski Duey’s, Coffey Grounds, Peach Pit and Wolf’s Lair, which are all mini bowls dotted with cliffs. This far-right zone requires some side-stepping to get into.

How to hike out of Teo Bowl

No matter which run you take down, you’ll be funneled onto a cat track road at the bottom. Take off your skis and hike out to the left. The hike takes approximately 10-15 minutes. From here, you can ski into Paradise Bowl or continue hiking up the road to the right, which will take you to the Phoenix/Spellbound entrance.


A skier skis down a steep section of the Headwall at Crested Butte on a bluebird day


Skiing Crested Butte extremes from the High Lift requires a run down the Headwall, a CB classic. The Headwall looms above Paradise Bowl, enticing skiers to explore its steep, rocky slopes. This is the most commonly skied area off High Lift because it doesn’t require a hike out. It is dizzyingly steep and requires precise skiing to navigate through obstacles. From the top, rocky chutes give way to a wide mogul field.

Navigating the Headwall

To ski the Headwall, take a sharp left at the top of High Lift. Side-step up a short hill and around the corner to the right. You have several choices from here. Enter Half Pipe on the left to access Powder 8 Gully and Headwall Glades. For a longer run, traverse right at the top of Half Pipe. This route will take you to Headwall proper, which is a steep, open ridge topped with a cliff band. When you reach the bottom of the mogul field, keep your speed up to coast into the top of Paradise Bowl.


A skier jumps off a cliff in Big Chute at Crested Butte on a sunny winter day.

Paradise Cliffs, Big Chute and Figure 11

Get off halfway up the High Lift to ski some Crested Butte extremes that receive relatively little traffic. Enter from the gate on your left. Usually Crested Butte Ski Patrol has placed one of their famous signs here. Signs display quips warning skiers of the treacherously steep slopes below.

Paradise Cliffs

Far skier’s left of this zone is a run aptly named Paradise Cliffs. At the top is a large, overhanging cliff band that tapers off to the left. Below lies a small open landing zone that gives way to a steep glade. Need some entertainment while you’re waiting at the North Face Lift? Look up and watch skilled skiers and snowboarders drop into Paradise Cliffs.

Big Chute

The middle of the zone is Big Chute, a narrow, rocky playground that is unforgettable on a powder day. Far skier’s right is Figure 11 Chutes, a steep glade interspersed with cliff bands and rocks. All this terrain empties into the top of Paradise Bowl.


A sign in front of a snowy slope, set up by Crested Butte Ski Patrol.

The Peak

Skiing Crested Butte extremes from the High Lift is incomplete without a trip up to the peak. The mountain’s iconic pointy peak tops out at 12,162 feet. From the summit, a panoramic view of the Gunnison Valley and beyond surrounds you.

How to get to the Peak at Crested Butte

To get to the peak, ride High Lift to the top and ski straight through the gate ahead of you. Follow the track around the ridge, sidestepping when necessary. At the ski area boundary there is a flat spot to take off your skis or board and start hiking along the rope line.

Make your way up the boot pack trail as it follows the ridge north. About 50-100 feet from the peak, secure your skis in the snow and continue to the summit to enjoy the view. Surrounding you is some of Colorado’s most remote and pristine public lands, from the West Elks to the Collegiate Peaks to the Sawatch Range.

Skiing the peak

The Peak run itself is south-facing and quite exposed to wind and sun. Expect different snow conditions here than in forested or sheltered terrain. The face is steep, but not as technical as most of Crested Butte’s other extreme terrain.

There are two ways down from the bottom of The Peak run. The first is to descend toward’s skier’s right down to Big Chute. The second is to stay left and ski your choice of Crested Butte’s front-side extremes, which include Forest, Peel, Banana, Funnel and Sunset Ridge.

The longest lap at Crested Butte

Skiing Crested Butte extremes from the High Lift allows you to take the longest possible route down the resort. The longest continuous route down CBMR is to ski the Peak to Big Chute to Paradise Bowl and all the way down to the bottom of East River lift. That’s 2.6 miles!

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