I had heard a lot of things about Telluride before our trip. Having never been to Colorado I was real excited to check out a new ski area. I was headed there for the Freeskiing World Tour Qualifier with my wife Crystal. We decided to fly directly into the Telluride airport, which is perched on the side of a cliff. We were also told it is the highest elevation airport in North America. When we descended into the mountains all you could see was a 1,000-foot canyon below and a mountain on the left hand side. It appeared for a second that we were going to fly into the canyon wall, but all of a sudden the wall of the canyon flattened out to a mesa and the runway appeared and we touched down nice a smooth.
Our Turbo-Prop fueling up in Phoenix
The Telluride Airport only has one gate, a handfull of employees and capacity for only one aircraft at a time. Cyrstal grabbing her carry-on.
View from the free gondola looking toward the town of Telluride
Me at the top of the Gold Hill chair about to hike to Gold Hill Chute #9
On the hike to the Gold Hill Chutes you get a great view of some rad, big backcountry lines. This pic is of the San Jaoquin Couloir? It's skiable, but a mission I heard. Not too many people ski this every year. It looks small in the picture but it has to be at least 2,000 vert of a very steep (45 degree?) and very sustained pitch.
Palmyra Peak from Gold Hill
Close up of Palmyra, I think some Blasters have been up there.
Top of Gold Hill #9. They only had Gold Hill 1+9 open due to lack of snow. Telluride keeps on advertising that they have opened Gold Hill 2-5 this year, but they have not been opened yet. It looks like some big and gnarly terrain, but they are also littered with the biggest shark teeth you could ever imagine. There is also some extremely deadly exposure all around. I would be surprised if they opened them this year, it seems that they would need a ton more snow (or some wet snow), to make them even remotely safe for the general public.
Top of Prospect Lift
Competitors hiking to inspect. Only a 20 minute hike but at 13,000ish feet not a cake walk. Biggest difficulty, not getting sweaty.
Day 1 comp venue the Review Face. Pretty worthy Day 1 comp venue. Don't be fooled, this is the rockiest face you could ever imagine, only 3 inches of fluff hiding the millions of "chocolate chips" and "shark teeth".
Dog friendly town. This Husky must have been laying here for days, he had melted out a little snow cave for himself.
The Finals, Travis Wolfe on the bottom air.
The after party at the New Sheridan Bar. Good times, great people, free Corona's. Note: the service at the Sheridan was not very good. The bar tenders were grumpy and when we went back for steaks, we got blown off by the restaurant employees. I guess we didn't look like we were rich enough to eat there.
All in all Telluride is a great town and a great mountain. However, everything is very expensive, much more than the Tahoe area! The mountain also has some world-class terrain, but it takes 4 lift rides and at least a 15-20 minute hike to get to the good stuff.
The whole lower Mountain Village side is very much like Northstar. Long green circle trails, meander through condo's and mansions and fancy neighborhoods. This is about a third of Telluride's acreage and vertical. The Telluride side of the lower mountain has some long, steeper double black runs, reminiscent of a big east coast area. Lots of fun bump runs and glades that would keep you occupied on powder days.
The hike to terrain and the easily accessible backcountry (much more considerable avy danger than Tahoe) is all very worthy and could keep you busy for years and years. The lack of snow and abundance of rocks make for a whole different style of skiing. Its more of an East Coast meets West Coast hybrid, style. Ice and bumps and rocks meet couloirs and chutes and bowls, very technical. The locals call this "San Juan Skiing" and it is very impressive to watch. I would love to go back, hopefully next time they will have a deeper snow pack and all the Gold Hill Chutes will be firing.
More photos and videos to come….