Guide Focus: Crested Butte and Fruita
Whether it’s on the technical desert trails of Fruita or the high-alpine singletrack in Crested Butte, Chasing Epic clients have been stoked on riding with our lead guides Ben and Janae Pritchett since the beginning. That’s why we thought it was appropriate to kick off our “Guide Focus” series with a closer look at what makes the dynamic couple tick: what keeps them going, what they’re all about, and where they like to ride when they’re not leading clients on the trails.
Together, Ben and Janae own Colorado Backcountry, our guiding partners for Chasing Epic trips to both Fruita and Crested Butte. Ben is the lead guide for their operation, while Janae takes care of all the planning, scheduling, and logistics behind the scenes.
More on Ben: Follow Ben through the mountains and you’ll see things in a whole new light. You’ll go places you wouldn’t otherwise find. You’ll see things you’d likely blow right past. You’ll learn natural history and bike skills. His background includes a couple decades of bike, hike, and backcountry ski guiding, avalanche forecasting, and avalanche education. If you’re looking for an exciting and educational day in the mountains, Ben’s the guide for you.
And Janae’s kick-ass bio: Janae is an exuberant coach and guide, a truly hyper-motivated athlete. Achievement is her middle name: professional athlete, mountain guide, fitness coach, mother of two, Yale University degrees in Geology and Environmental Studies, and mathematics curriculum developer. In the summers, Janae raced professionally in Xterra triathlons and downhill, cross country, and enduro mountain bike races, finishing on the podium in almost every race.
In the winters, Janae mixed it up, winning events such as the Grand Traverse and being one of the only athletes to ever place top five in U.S. freeride alpine, telemark, and snowboard events. Now retired from racing, she shares her passion for the outdoors and adventure through her guide service and mountain biking school in Crested Butte. Want to do more in the mountains? Janae is your lady!
How did you first get into guiding, and what made you start Colorado Backcountry?
Janae: We worked together as guides in the early 2000’s. In 2006, our friend was turning 60 and ready to pass on her hiking guide service. We promised to take great care of this wonderful guide service that she had started. Since that time, we have grown the business to include mountain bike guiding, instruction, and shuttles, peak summits, backpacking, wildflower tours, hut trips, backcountry skiing, and avalanche education.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Ben: For sure the smiles on people’s faces. It’s super rewarding to share our passion for the mountains and for that to spill over into a lasting memory for our clients.
What’s your favorite trail to guide in Crested Butte?
Ben: The next trail… with over 750 miles of singletrack in our backyard, the variety keeps it fun!
Other than Crested Butte and Fruita, what are the top places you’ve been to ride?
Janae: Switzerland and Vancouver
Which locations are on your bucket list?
Janae (and Ben): Everywhere! But the short list includes Canada, Peru, New Zealand, Austria, Italy, and Slovenia.
When you’re not guiding, what do you like doing with your “free time”?
Janae: Anything that involves being outside and spending time with family, especially trail running, surfing, or skiing.