Dec 052009

This is, literally, the end of the road.

Twenty-five miles up an icy highway from Gunnison, surrounded on three sides by some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in Colorado, there’s one way in and out of Crested Butte in the winter.

Skiing is a way of life, in a rustic town that has attracted hippies, drop-outs and ski bums for generations, with a mountain known for deep powder and double-diamond runs that challenge skills and test the soul.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort is at the center of a fierce debate that belies the beauty and tranquility. The resort wants to expand to nearby Snodgrass Mountain, and what was supposed to be a groomed path to approval has hit what skiers call a massive yard sale: The U.S. Forest Service, citing community divisions and environmental issues, last month denied the project, declining to commence a review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

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