The Therapeutic Side of Adaptive Recreation The Adaptive Sports Center of Crested Butte, Colorado
About The Adaptive Sports Center The Adaptive Sports Center is a premiere organization that provides high-quality outdoor adventure activities for individuals with disabilities. We serve people of all ages with all sorts of cognitive and physical disabilities, as well as at-risk youth. Our programs are designed to include friends and family, and our instructors have over a century of combined experience. We are able to accommodate everyone from beginners to experts.
Why We’re Therapeutic Let’s face it: life has ways of creating physical, psychological, social, or lifestyle stresses. Disability can compound the effects of stress, which can be detrimental to health, wellness, and quality of life. Our activities and programs combat this by giving participants experiences that improve behaviors, skills, and/or attitudes that can be applied to other aspects of life. That said, just being present in the beauty of the mountains in our backyard can be therapeutic for the soul, even if “doctorprescribed therapy” isn’t needed.
Nestled in the Elk Mountains of Colorado around 9000 feet, Crested Butte is a small mountain
oasis far away from the hustle and bustle of congested cities and corporate craziness. Often touted as “Colorado’s last great ski town,” it’s common to find like-minded folks who LOVE being outdoors, and could care less about not having a myriad of strip malls and mainstream shopping anywhere nearby. The population of full-time residents in-town is less than 1500, though the resort area (2 miles away) repeatedly attracts summer and winter visitors, year after year. We promise that one visit will reveal why. It doesn’t matter if you enjoy the mountains purely for recreation, or if you’re a hardcore elite athlete. Crested Butte has something for everyone.
Wait, Who? Me? We mentioned a few pages ago that we serve all sorts of people with disabilities. Hopefully the photos throughout this booklet will speak for themselves, but if putting it into writing helps: every year we see hundreds of participants (of all ages and abilities) come through our doors... some come by themselves, some with family and/or friends, and some with groups. Participants with disabilities that have joined us include people with: ADD/ADHD, ALS, amputations, anxiety disorders, asthma, arthritis, autism, bipolar disorder, brain injury, brain tumors, burns, cerebral palsy, depression, diabetes, down syndrome, epilepsy, hearing impairments, HIV, knee/hip replacements, learning disabilities, mental retardation, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, spinal meningitis, history of stroke(s), visual impairments, as well as youth-at-risk! 4
Winter Programs Crested Butte is known for epic winters. The Adaptive Sports Center “gets it” and has developed amazing programs for its participants that take full advantage of the wintery wonderland months that are literally right in our backyard. Our staff is trained to for everything from mild to wild, so it truly doesn’t matter if you come here for purely enjoyable recreation or if you come as an extreme athlete looking to train on some of the best terrain in the country. We can hook you up with what you need. We offer lessons for folks who need some instruction, and provide experienced guides for those who don’t. Come join us for downhill skiing at the resort, nordic skiing, or backcountry / powder cat skiing! We’ll take you snowboarding or snowshoeing too. Every individual has different needs, and we understand that. We have an incredible spread of mono-skis, bi-skis, dual skis, stand-up skis, snowboards, snowbikes, and all the necessary accessories! Whether you use your own gear or want to use ours, we’re here to provide a great experience.
Sit-Down Skiing Despite being on a mountain that rises to over 12,000 feet in elevation, the Crested Butte Mountain Resort provides lots of variation for everyone â€“ beginners to experts â€“ with over 1100 acres of skiable terrain, and averages over 300 inches of natural snowfall every year. ASC offers sit-down skiing on mono-skis (one ski under a bucket seat, with suspension), bi-skis (two skis under a seat with a lower center of gravity), and dual skis (a hybrid of both). We typically use these for participants with some form of paralysis and/or amputations. The choice of equipment is largely dependent on physical ability, as well as attitude. Skiing is inherently dangerous, and safety is a high priority for our instructors, so we make sure equipment selection is best suited for what will provide the most enjoyable experience while meeting individual needs and ability level. Another option we offer is downhill on a skibike. This is a great option for people who can use their legs, but might struggle with balance or fatigue, making stand-up skiing difficult. Steering is done with handlebars, just like a bike, and riders wear short skis on their feet for stability and further control.
Stand-up Skiing & Snowboarding Crested Butte Mountain Resort provides lots of variation for everyone – beginners to experts – with over 1100 acres of skiable terrain, and averages over 300 inches of natural snowfall every year! Sit-down skiing is the stereotypical association with adaptive snowsports, but there are actually many ways we adapt skiing and snowboarding for our participants who can stand! We love to see people succeed on the slopes, and it doesn’t matter if someone: is missing one or both legs, has a hearing impairment, is legally blind, struggles with maintaining focus, can’t balance well, or deals with any other limitation. We use outriggers for three-track (skiing on one ski + outriggers) and four-track (skiing on two skis + outriggers). We’ve got gear to keep skis from getting crossed, several different types of poles, harnesses, and tethers to add extra support or allow our instructors to help guide our participants safely, all while giving them the experience and thrill of cruising down the mountain! Many of these adaptations can be used for snowboarding as well.
Backcountry / Snow Cat Skiing The Adaptive Sports Center has a relationship with a local luxury cat skiing company, CS Irwin, that provides an exciting option for our advanced participants who can ski or snowboard safely without close instructor support. We hop in a snow cat and go beyond the boundaries of the Crested Butte Mountain Resort, out into the backcountry where the powder is fresh, deep, and very lightly travelled (if even at all). This is a high-adventure program that does require some extra logistics, so let us know well in advance if
Summer Programs The fun doesn’t stop when the snow disappears from Crested Butte! In fact, we offer a greater variety of summer activities than what we have available during the winter. Crested Butte and the neighboring areas are chock full of trails, rivers, and other spots to soak in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. ASC is your source for outdoor summer fun, whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or a way to experience serenity in nature. We’ve got a gung-ho staff willing and ready to take you out: on the water (canoeing, kayaking, rafting), on a bike (XC mountain, downhill mountain, or road), up in the treetops on our challenge course (ropes course w/ accessible high and low elements), on a trail for hiking and/ or rock climbing, or on a horse at one of two nearby ranches. No matter what your individual needs are, we’ve got a way to accommodate you, whether you have your own equipment, or want to use ours. Crested Butte is a mecca for outdoor adventure in the summer, and we’re here to help you get the best experience all while making sure it’s safe and enjoyable. Come and be surprised at what you can do!
Watersports The Adaptive Sports Center is at the base of a mountain known for skiing and biking, but there are some awesome lakes and rivers a short drive away! We offer day trips for open water kayaking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting, or if you’re up for something a bit longer, join us for a multi-day river trip further away in Western Colorado! The intensity is up to you. If you want to ride some rapids, learn how to avoid gnarly obstacles and pretty much guarantee that you’ll get wet, whitewater on the Taylor River is great. If you want to relax and enjoy some laid-back paddling on still waters with gorgeous scenery, let us take you out in a canoe or kayak up at Lake Irwin (a high alpine lake, at a higher elevation than Crested Butte!) or out on Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest body of water. The water is a great equalizer for people with disabilities. Boating requires very few adaptations to allow people with specific needs to participate alongside others who might not face the same challenges.
Mountain Biking If there’s one sport that you see a LOT of people doing here in Crested Butte during the summer, it’s mountain biking. There’s good reason for it too! We have access to some amazing cross-country and downhill trails that are suited for any skill level, so no matter if you’re a total novice just looking for the opportunity to try a new (and exciting!) outdoor sport, or if you’re a seasoned biker craving the experience of riding some of the best terrain in Colorado, this is the place to be. We’ve got options, too. The Crested Butte Mountain Resort has some wicked downhill trails, and we’ve got the means to get you on a bike with super plush suspension to ride them, no matter if you need a 4-wheeled gravity bike that’s ridden from a seated position, or if you can ride a standard 2-wheeled mountain bike. We’ll take you up a chairlift to the top of the mountain and ride down, over and over. It’s a blast. If downhill isn’t your thing, consider joining us for some crosscountry riding on singletrack or doubletrack trails. The scenery alongside rivers and fields of wildflowers is like none other. Ride a full-suspension mountain bike, or take out a hardtail. We have 3-wheeled offroad handcycles if you can’t pedal with your legs. We even have a tandem mountain bike for our participants who might need some extra assistance from an instructor. No matter how you ride, we’ll hook you up.
Road Biking Despite being in a mountain town, we actually do have miles and miles of great roads for biking! Crested Butte and its surrounding areas are amazing, not only because of the beautiful scenery, but also because you wonâ€™t find heavy traffic here. The air is clean, clear, and well... nearly perfect. Just like our other activities, how hard you push yourself is up to you. Weâ€™ve got some laid-back rides to allow you to unwind from your busy life and soak in the scenery, or we can take you on some lengthy routes with challenging hill climbs (which have some great scenery as well, especially at the tops!). Some roads are paved, and some are hard-packed dirt/gravel. Road biking is available to all sorts of persons with disabilities, no matter if there are challenges due to paralysis, balance, cognition, or other circumstances. You can either ride a standard bike, or one of our recumbents! We have several handcycles, and a couple leg-powered seated bikes.
Hiking and Climbing National Forest and BLM land is literally our backyard. There are great hikes with spectacular views everywhere around Crested Butte, and it’s our pleasure to take you out to explore! Please do note that we most often couple hiking with some of our other activities, like kayaking/canoeing at Lake Irwin or Blue Mesa. Let us know what you’re up for! If you’re interested in scaling a rock face, join us for a day at beautiful Hartman Rocks, where we’ll spend some time teaching you the ropes for safely climbing and belaying, and then help you tackle the climb! We even have a system that was designed in-house to allow our participants who can’t walk ascend with a hands-on-the-wall approach. We want to see you at the top! We also offer natural history tours and environmental education activities upon request. No matter how you look at it, hiking and/or climbing with ASC is an awesome way to spend a summer day.
Challenge Course Up on the mountain, at the top of the Red Lady Chairlift, is ASC’s fully-accessible challenge course. Yes, you read that right! Not only is our challenge course on top of the mountain with some spectacular views, but it’s accessible to everyone, even our participants who use wheelchairs! We have 5 low ropes elements and 6 high ropes elements, including everything from a “Whale Watch” requiring strategy and balance, to our “Giant Swing,” which gives you the thrill of flying through the trees! Generally speaking, our challenge course is best suited for families and/or groups. The experience of working together through the various elements is a fantastic team-building time of not only leaning about yourself, but about others in your group. Disability has a sneaky way of beating down selfesteem and confidence, and this is a powerful way to combat that. You’ll be surprised at what you can do!
Horseback Riding Ever been on a horse? Don’t think that a disability will keep you from it! ASC actually doesn’t have any horses, but we do have some great friends with loads of experience with equine therapy at two separate horse ranches a short drive away. You’ll learn firsthand about grooming and tacking a horse, as well as learning the best ways to show a horse that he or she can trust you, which will then provide you with an awesome time of riding! We offer arena riding at the ranches, as well as overnight pack trips out on the trails. Pack trips do require special arrangements, so please contact us with plenty of time to figure out the details. Important: it is mandatory to participate in a day of arena riding prior to going trail riding. No matter what challenges exist, there are ways to participate! We have had people with all sorts of disabilities – from spinal cord injury to blindness – enjoy the experience of the most historical method of transportation in the West!
The Power of Outdoor Recreation Words on pages don’t really do justice to the impact that participation with ASC can have. It’s not uncommon for us to hear "you have no idea how much this changed my life" or "that was the best day of my life" when it’s time for our participants to head home. Of course everyone will have different experiences, but we have countless stories of how outdoor adventure that pushes you to new levels of ability, confidence, and skill can bleed out into all areas of your life. Take Julie, for example. Julie is a long-time friend of ASC who visits us year after year to ski and enjoy Crested Butte. Her disabilities could easily keep her at home, but once she discovered sit-down skiing, something changed. Functional physical improvement started occurring, and her life gained newfound momentum. She became motivated to get her driver’s license, secure a job, and now she’s a trip leader and brings groups of ladies to ASC from Texas in the summers and the winters every year... and she’s not slowing down!
When Itâ€™s Time To Go Home
Our desire is that the time you spend with us in Crested Butte is more than a vacation. We want your time with us to be one that assists in changing your skills, knowledge, and/or abilities. Life is too short to not live it to the fullest, and even if thereâ€™s no adaptive sports organization at home, you just might be surprised at how your experience here at ASC impacts your lifestyle, no matter where you are.
The “Going Home” Part... Everyone leads a different life, so it’d be bit unreasonable for us to try to
Time spent with us will help you see ways to reduce or overcome the
tell you here what to do when you get home in order to continue your experience when you leave Crested Butte (that is, if you actually leave!).
limitations in your life that get in the way of the things you want to do. Sometimes, disability can overpower your life so much that you forget
Sometimes all that’s needed to continue an experience is adaptive
those things that matter to you the most, and sometimes you need a jolt
equipment similar to that which you learned how to use with ASC. It
to realize just how important it is to find a way to reincorporate those
could be that you just need a family member or friend to help you out,
things back into life, whether related to health, wellness, leisure, vocation,
just as our instructors and volunteers did. Or, you may simply realize that
family... you name it!
opportunities and possibilities exist in ways that you previously didn’t see!
We have a friend – with paralysis – from England who comes out to
Technically speaking, ASC is all about leisure activities – you know, the
participate with us a couple weeks per year. The first time he visited us
fun stuff that counts as “play” instead of “work.” Leisure actually
he was a little on the heavy side. He did well though, and when it was
compliments other areas of life, and has a direct impact on your health
time to go home, one of our instructors gave him some pointers for
and well-being. We see the things we do here at ASC as incredibly beneficial for our participants, especially as disability is part of the
getting ready for next year. What happened? He came back the next year and had dropped pant sizes by 9 inches! We can’t take full credit for
equation. Our programs are designed around individual needs and/or
what he chose to do on his own, but think about the motivation he had
goals, which in turn will ideally create a change in lifestyle or behavior that
when he left!
has long-lasting effects that stick with you well beyond your time in Crested Butte.
One of our Wounded Warriors came to do some hiking, boating, and camping with us soon after he had a leg amputated. Something clicked
Life is complex even without a disability, and we understand that. We can
in his mind when he realized that there wasn’t anything getting in his way
help you learn new skills and give you great information, but the greatest
when using his prosthesis, and that using a wheelchair really didn’t serve
impact from your experiences with ASC will come from within, and that’s
a purpose. He went home with a new perspective on life, ready to take
what you need to take home!
on new challenges... and win!
Consider being part of our story. Weâ€™d love to be part of yours.
The Adaptive Sports Center PO Box 1639, Crested Butte, Colorado, 81224 Phone: 970.349.2296 Fax: 970.349.2077 www.adaptivesports.org There is an inherent risk to outdoor adventure activities ... (ref. Read)
Published on Jan 30, 2012
The Adaptive Sports Center is a premiere organization that provides high-quality outdoor adventure activities for individuals with disabilit...