Irwin Guides & sCarp Ridge Lodge

The ultimate Eleven Experience in Crested Butte

A quick-and-dirty, behind-the-scenes recap from my recent reconnaissance trip to Irwin cat skiing and Scarp Ridge Lodge in Crested Butte.

The luxe 8-bedroom Scarp Ridge Lodge was once a Croatian dancehall & saloon.

The luxe 8-bedroom Scarp Ridge Lodge was once a Croatian dancehall & saloon.

Both Scarp Ridge Lodge and Irwin Guides cat skiing are owned and operated by our partner Eleven Experience, an amazing company that describes itself as follows:

Whether heli-skiing near the Arctic Circle in Iceland or casting for bonefish on a remote island in the Bahamas, Eleven experiences are a different kind of escape. We are not found in traditional destinations. Our lodges, chalets and beach houses are miles from the main road - in a historic farming village high along the French-Italian border, on a rugged river in Patagonia, off the coast of Eastern Long Island, and in other unique locations away from the crowd.

Of all of the cat/heli-skiing operations I've visited, this was by far the most upscale. In fact, the accommodations at Scarp Ridge Lodge are perhaps more thoughtful and luxurious than anything I have previously experienced (including internationally acclaimed 5-star resorts).

They've thought of everything. From every imaginable creature comfort such as heated floors & towel racks and steam showers in every bathroom. They have a mantra called "open everything" (not just bar), complimentary welcome gifts such as high-end Smith ski goggles. Everything you could ever wish for or imagine is yours for the taking at SRL.

Even personalized mini-retail boutiques in each room. Yes, they stock everything from your favorite snacks and beverages to clothing items of your specific size and taste.

One of the coziest hotels in America
— The Wall Street Journal

They have 2 luxury backcountry "cabins" (10 miles deep into the alpine terrain) that serve as "basecamp" for the cat skiing days. These are the "Movie Cabin" and "Cat Barn". They are both 5-star quality, have indoor and outdoor wood burning fireplaces, screens/projectors (to watch slideshows or ski films during lunch and apres ski), wifi, open bar, etc. This is where you start your day, boot up, lunch, apres ski, etc.

The guide service and cat skiing terrain/operation are absolutely world-class. They have an incredible amount of varied terrain, several state-of-the-art snowcats with leather seats, full sound systems, satellite radio, ipod hookups, outdoor speakers on the side of the cats (so you can listen to tunes while clicking into your skis!), etc. Many of the guides are world-renowned, AMGA/IFMGA licensed mountain guides (the highest level of international guiding certification in the world and held by only a handful of American guides). They're super fun guys to spend a day on the slopes with. And in the bar after!

2x the average annual snowfall of the typical Colorado ski resort.

Although Irwin is only 10 miles from the town of Crested Butte, Colorado, it receives three times more snow than the town itself. At an average of 600 inches per year, Irwin is considered a powder mecca, often compared to Alta, Utah and the Canadian Rockies.

The Ride of a Lifetime: Cat-Skiing Irwin. 

More Details

After years of being shuttered, one of Colorado’s best snowcat skiing operations is back on track.
— 5280 Magazine
  • Lodging & cat skiing is ideal for groups of 10.
  • You CANNOT purchase a single "room" at Scarp Ridge Lodge. The entire lodge must be purchased for a single group of friends, family or business associates.
  • They book up at 90+% occupancy during the winter months (Winter 2015 is basically sold out) so now is the time call us to lock down prime 2016 dates.
  • While this is certainly a premium, 5+ star experience, the pricing is surprisingly reasonable when compared to other heli and cat skiing operations.
  • When you combine the luxe lodging/dining with the cat skiing operation & terrain, there is nothing comparable in the U.S. and this is as good as it gets in the world.
  • This is an ideal location for a quick backcountry getaway. Typically, experiences like this are found in remote areas of Canada or Alaska, making travel access cumbersome and time consuming. SRL is quickly accessed by flying to Gunnisson, Colorado (30 minute shuttle to lodge) or driving 4 hours from Denver.
  • Average 600+ inches of powder each year.
  • 10,000-15,000 vertical feet per day.
  • Irwin Guides is the only snowcat skiing operation accredited by the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA).

Get in touch if we can plan an incredible helicopter or cat skiing escape for you:

(303)350-4060 or

Scarp Ridge Lodge Crested Butte

Photo Credit to Eleven Experience and Scarp Ridge Lodge