It was my first time. It was James' first time and Hunter's first time and Randy's first time … Save for Pete Payette - who we didn't even know was coming yet as we sat on their floor drinking Genesee and watching an old Satellite tour video - it was the first Crested Butte trip for all of us.
While we had all heard great things about both the town and, in particular, the mountain itself, we really didn't know shit other than that it was going to be cold. Really fucking cold.
But one of the best parts about rolling with these dudes, I learned, is that it didn't matter. Nothing really mattered. No one really gave a damn how cold it was; no one cared how long it would take us to get down there, and while it was a bummer that there was not much snow, no one seemed too concerned about that either. The fact of the matter was that someone had given us a free room (and much more, we would later find), and we were going on a road trip. All variables aside, we could at least do our two favorite things. Get fucked up and ride snowboards.
We took to the road - half the group sliding into James' truck breaking trail and half in Randy's. With a few dudes dropping out last minute we learned that The Russian (Alex Ulyankin) and Pete Payette would be meeting us at the hotel in Crested Butte. Shuffling between Witch and Waylon Jennings, we slowly weaved our way through light snow down to Crested Butte. Half the car spent the ride trying to hone in on any females we might know in Crested Butte while the other half tried to convince Summit girls to drive on down.
"Bunch of rooms for a bunch of lonely dudes," I remember saying as we pulled up to 500 Gothic Road. We had hoped that such an address would host a terraced castle or something remotely evil, but the Elevation Hotel looks pretty damn standard. On the other hand, the accommodations we were given, were anything but ordinary.
"I figured we were cramming into a motel room," Hunter answered. It wasn't until we had pulled up at our hotel that I realized how little I had told the other dudes about our trip. While I knew that we wouldn't be rolling three dicks to a bed, I had no idea we would get five rooms, each with two queens beds, a balcony and a wall mounted flat-screen.
We drank the free coffee they had at check-in and carried our gear up to the rooms. We were pretty burnt at this point - five hours of road beers and spliffs can have that effect. So we polished off the luke-warm Rolling Rocks we had left over, watched the new King of the Road video (found at a rest stop along the way) twice in a row in James' room - leaving his spot surprisingly dirty for how little we did - and one by one, filtered out to our rooms.
The beds were top notch and super warm. In contrast, the sky hung a listless grey and the air was biting. I made my way down to the ticket office, grabbed our passes and sat around the bonfire in front of the hotel to meet Aaron Dodds, who would be shooting the feature. Surprisingly, everyone was fairly punctual and we got to it.
One of the first things Dodds tells me is that he can only shoot one day; he would be making his way back up to Jackson that evening. So it was one day, with a new crew, and some thin snow cover. But, again, it didn't really matter. The dudes, all of them, let it rip right off the bat. We were able to shoot everything we needed - from park shots to some hidden pockets in the woods - in no time. I'm telling you, these One Glove dudes, (as they call themselves - keep your eyes peeled for their upcoming video) are the truth. Beer drinking, rock-and-roll lovin' rippers.
That last park lap was the last time everyone would be together. From there, the crew gradually thinned, spiraling into a weird trainwreck of a Saturday night.
Some of us started at Butte 66, right at the base of the hill. It was Sunday, there was football on and the bar was full of man-idolizers. But there were also dollar PBRs. So we watched Peyton throw an interception, ate some very middle-of-the-road nachos, put down dollar brews and and cruised back to the rooms.
Jack never showed up to the bar after boarding. He had started puking - maybe from hitting his head on a missed hand plant or maybe because he was the first to catch the stomach bug that eventually nailed most of us. Hunter, James and Stevie had to rally back up to Summit: Hunter was off to Europe for the Evolution Tour (a flight he would miss and have to reschedule), James had missed the deadline to register for classes and Stevie had to work - or something like that. Dodds was off to Jackson.
I had fallen asleep when Pete and the Russian came knocking, twelve back in tow, around 9:00 p.m. The Russian drove us down the Montanya Distillery to ease into the night. Neat little rum joint with a cool staff. Light rum, dark rum - basil-infused hippy rum. The Russian slipped out at this point - from my understanding he was looking not to booze for a while. By the time Randy, Pete and I got to West End Public House, we were all pretty loose. Pete, though, was on one. He was talking to people in a way that you could't quite decide whether they would laugh with him and order another round or tag him one on the jaw.
We buried some sliders and a mess of other shit and shot pool upstairs. Interesting crowd up there. This one Spicoli-ish dude packed his one hitter up a bunch, making sure we blew the hit out the small window he had yanked open, and the pair of gentlemen we were playing against laughed about a guy who recently shot himself in the leg at Kocheiver's, where we would try to go next.
There were a few stops, for sure, after we exited West End, but most vividly I remember ending up at The Talk of the Town, a dim lit, night-ending type of spot. Suited us well, really. A band, Whiskey Tango, jammed out tunes in the back while a number of people danced and I lurked along the wall to the right of the stage. Some talent, but not much. Tucker Andrews had said Crested Butte would be dry in the winter and he was dead on. Pete, however, had weaseled himself into something great - A debatably attractive, recently divorced Mom in town for her son's hockey tournament. "I have never felt so free," she later lamented.
Pete's a sharp cat and had curried favor with this woman with a sloppy mix of youthful bravado and brazen drunkenness. "You are so cute but just so you know, I am not sleeping with you," she warned. She was, however, super down to make out at the bar. She was aggressive one no doubt - really leaned into it. I watched for a while, snapping a few photos and just kind of taking it in.
We whisked her out of there and stumbled over to the Eldo Taproom or some other bar with live music and spoken-for women. I just remember thinking that it was time to bail. Randy's not 21 and had been waiting in the breezeway of the bar, where the bouncer let him sit, half way out of the cold. Pete had made it a personal mission of his to "get me laid" and was weaseling between couples to see, "What's up?" and if they had met his homie Mike yet. I love awkwardness but I wasn't about to get clocked by the massive Chicago Bears fan whose girlfriend had most recently graced Pete's radar. Pete was thoroughly engaged and not capable of reasoning, so I snagged Randy from his waiting room, was given a pack of rolling papers by a generous woman outside the bar, flagged one of the shuttle's they have running around town and high-tailed back to the Elevation with Randy and a friend of his from Vermont who he hadn't seen in years and just happened to live in Crested Butte. Small world.
There was one final bright spot - a babe on our return shuttle. But she too, was with her man; her husband, it turned out. She was one of those active types, training to hike the entire Appalachian. "All the way up to Katahdin," she explained. And with her 4-year old son, no less. She had a killer rig, though. Especially for a Mom.
When I awoke the following morning, the temperature had dropped and the light was even flatter than the previous morning. I am not sure if Pete brought that cougar home, or if he even made it back to the hotel. I didn't hear from him or The Russian until about 10:30 that next morning when they told me they were heading back to Summit. Randy, Jack and I took some laps in the morning before scoping spots around town for a bit. By the time we met Camille and Erica from the Crested Butte team for lunch, my head was spinning and my stomach flipping. It was tough to decide whether I was working off one hell of a hangover or had caught the stomach virus but I couldn't force down about two fork-loads of my salad. (I thought it would be easiest to eat a salad, that way I at least ate something and didn't come off rude. Better to be considered weird or effeminate than rude in these types of scenarios). More unfortunately, I couldn't drink my Budweiser. I didn't see Randy or Jack put much down either. Just a sorry-looking crew at this point.
The last stragglers, freezing away in the Butte, we twisted a few for the drive, packed into Randy's pickup and called it a trip. A brief trip, indeed, but a successful trip at that. Take a look at the fruits of our trip inside the February issue and stay up to date with the One Glove dudes who will be bringing video updates to Snowboard-Colorado.com.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to Erica, Camille and everyone at Crested Butte who helped us put this together and have a good time!