For any skier or snowboarder who thinks the slopes have become too crowded, there’s a magical place that is the stuff of skier’s dreams. It’s a 1,750-acre wilderness refuge in the Colorado Rockies with over 1,600 feet of vertical, a sanctuary that redefines the term “exclusive.” That’s because it’s only accessible to 13 members and their families. It’s called Cimarron Mountain Club (CMC) and it makes the fabled private powder of Montana’s Yellowstone Club look downright crowded.
The terrain really sets this new club apart. CMC is tucked into Southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, 45 minutes from the Montrose Regional Airport, between Telluride and Crested Butte. It’s surrounded by National Forest and public lands, and just south of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The base of the fledgling resort is 9,820 feet and the summit is 11,430 feet. It will eventually offer more than 60 runs on more than 1,000 private acres of skiable terrain, planned by Mike Larson, founder of International Alpine Design, who oversaw the layout of 200 runs at Vail and its legendary 500-acre Blue Sky Basin. That’s more skiable terrain than Aspen Mountain. There are also 950 skiable acres on adjacent public lands. On CMC’s private lands, skiing is accessible from 15 drop-in points along 2.5 miles of the Cimarron Ridge.
That’s the draw in winter. In summer, members can enjoy world-class hiking, fishing at 15 stocked ponds, hunting, canoeing and mountain biking.
Then there’s the tab, which is as steep as the club’s slopes. CMC launched in July with six member families each paying $2.65 million for their membership and cabin site. The remaining seven memberships are still available at $2.8 million for access to some of the best remote and untrammeled powder in the Colorado Rockies.
CMC is the dream of former natural resources lawyer Jim Aronstein and his wife, Patsy. Through the 1990s and early 2000s, they searched western mountain ranges for a site to become the world’s only intimate private wilderness club with skiable terrain to rival the best. They visited more than a dozen sites across six Rocky Mountain States and provinces. The site of Cimarron Mountain Club met all their criteria. Following a decade of planning with advisement from ski industry heavyweights and a leading independent hotel group, CMC’s operating concept is “Preserve the powder and protect the wilderness.”
There is much more promised in the sales lingo of CMC, which mentions “boundless experiences brought to life by the Club’s Hosts.”
Club facilities currently include a 2,800 square-foot, three-bedroom Club Cabin on a 35-acre site at the entrance to CMC and a 3,600 square-foot equipment barn adjacent to the Club Cabin.
By the start of the 2018/2019 ski season, weather permitting, the Club will have two luxe Yurts for lodging and two Yurts connected by a breezeway housing the kitchen and lounge/dining areas until the Lodge is built. Construction on the Lodge, a mid-mountain Barn, and a lakeside Warming Hut will commence after the Club welcomes its eighth member.
The Club’s Yurts and Cabin (and Lodge guestrooms in time) may be reserved by Members on an equitable basis. As each Member also receives a 35-acre site to build their own cabin, nearly every cabin site will require the use of off-grid utility systems, in keeping with the Club’s vision of “walking softly on the land.”
Club Guides will accompany Members when they’re skiing outside of the groomed territory, but over time, members can become certified to ski off piste on their own. Telluride Helitrax is available, for an extra charge, to pick-up and drop-off at CMC’s ridge and fly to 200 square miles of high alpine basins, cirques and summits for a day of heli-skiing.
For anyone tired of lift lines and crowded slopes, CMC promises private powder pleasures. The price of admission is steep but it’s less than the cost of a slopeside home at many other ski areas.