OverviewThe Red Lady Bowl has that perfect confluence of access, terrain, and vertical that make it a backcountry skier's dream. Its popularity is evident from the almost permanent skin track leading to the top of Mount Emmons, and the arcing turns down its broad slopes. It's usually possible to ski here well into spring each year. The Red Lady is a locals' favorite. With good snow cover, Red Lady will offer you 3000' of vertical back to your car.
Getting ThereMount Emmons is easy to access year-round. The trailhead is the winter closure site on the Kebler Pass Road (in both winter and summer). The parking area is almost always plowed. There is a large parking area with room for many cars. This winter closure is a very popular spot for snowmobiles making there way along the closed Kebler Pass road.
From downtown Crested Butte, take Elk Avenue (the main street) until it ends on the west side of town. Look for a sign for Kebler Pass. The sign will direct you left. Go two blocks, turn right on the Kebler Pass road, and follow the road for a mile or so until it dead ends into a winter closure. Park in one of the obvious parking areas, avoiding posted spots.
There are some restrictions in some of the parking spots for overnight parking.
From parking, the easiest way to access Red Lady is the Southeast Ridge
After climbing Mount Emmons, there are several descent choices along the broad summit ridge. Simply pick your skiing line and go. The slopes below the summit are the steepest, probably maxing out near the 45 degree mark in some spots. Naturally, these upper slopes are the most likely to slide.
Below the upper slopes, the angle eases considerably as you ski down the Red Lady drainage to the spot where you parked your car.
This route is shown in purple on the TOPO! below.
In times of high avy danger, or when you're looking for easier options in the bowl, there are a couple of options:
- Southeast Ridge: This is definately safer, but not really easier. Once you regain treeline on the ridge, you'll have to negotiate steep, tight tree skiing. This route is shown in green on the TOPO! below.
- Southeast Ridge (West side gully): From the main summit, ski to the western side of the Southeast Ridge and enter a shallow and low-angled gully with fairly sparse glades. This is the easiest way down, and likely one of the safest. The trees tighten a bit as you get lower, but they really aren't that bad because the angle also eases as you descend. As you near the bottom, you can ski down to the closed road or cut across the slope back to parking. This route is shown in blue on the TOPO! below.
- Eastern Summit: From the main summit of Emmons, ski or climb down the ridge connecting the main summit from the eastern summit. Gain the eastern summit. From here, you can access the slightly less steep eastern side of the Red Lady. You can also ski down this ridge to access the Red Lady Glades. The Red Lady Glades are pretty steep, but fairly open and fun tree skiing. You'll wind up in the lower reaches of the Red Lady Bowl below the glades. This route is shown in red on the TOPO! below.
Essential GearSkis or snowboard, of course.
Avalanche Gear is a must. Please refer to the main page for avalanche links and photos.