What’s the best chairlift in Colorado you ask? Look no further than Telluride’s Chair 14, less commonly known as The Gold Hill Express. In my opinion, it doesn’t get much better than 14 around here, mostly due to the terrain, the speed, the lack of lift lines and the options you have once you get off at the top. Oh, and don’t forget about that view!
First, a bit of history. Chair 14 was built in 2001, a Doppelmayr High-Speed Quad going from Prospect basin to the Gold Hill ridge @ 12,225 ft. Telluride named the lift The Gold Hill Express and this thing forever changed the ski experience at the resort. Prior to the lifts installation, the Gold Hill ridge was accessed from Chair 6(Apex) and Telluride’s best terrain was either a long hike away or O.B. Little Rose was the boundary, the Gold Hill Chutes were not on the map, and Upper Bear Creek access was a LONG hike from Chair 6.
Now the Gold Hill Ridge is accessed by this super plush quad traveling the 1,475 vertical feet in minutes. From the top you have 360 degree skiing options in any direction. Lapping the lift, you have Little Rose and Andy’s Gold to the Fans skiers left, Millions and Claude’s Couloir directly under the lift and Dynamo, Electra, Trommer’s Trees, Stonehenge, and the Amphitheatre all skiers right. This is some of the best terrain in the resort, offering everything from wide open bowls to tight rocky lines, amazing trees, bumps, and some major cliff bands.
Over the other side, you can drop into the wide open Revelation Bowl, grab the quick Chair 15 up to the backside of Gold Hill ridge and get dropped of at 12,570 ft. From here you have access to Gold Hill Chute 1 or a quick hike to Gold Hill Cutes 2-10 and of course the infamous Bear Creek slackcountry. Remember to watch out for those “armed” guards!
And of course the views up top are unlike anything else in Colorado or North America for that matter. Utah’s La Sal Mountains are to the west, the 14ers of the Wilson Range(made famous on the Coors Beer can) are seen to the south along with the in-bounds 13,320 ft Palmyra Peak. To the north is the San Sophia Range and Sneffels Range with beautiful 14,150 ft Mount Sneffels in the distance.
The real beauty lies in Bear Creek though and the looming Little Wasatch Face, Ballard Peak, and San Joaquin Peak with the town more than 4,500 ft below at the bottom of the box-canyon. The intimidating, hair-ball couloirs and ski mountaineering descents of these peaks combined with the easy access from the resort is simply unparalleled. These are ‘no fall zones’ to the max.
Chair 14 is a local favorite in Telluride due to the wide variety of terrain it accesses and the speed in which it can get you there. Some of this terrain is unsurpassed in the area and truly unique to North American skiing. The Gold Hill Express was one of the most important additions to the Telluride Ski Resort in it’s history, and one of the best lifts in the country.
Tell us what you think in the comments below, is Chair 14 the best lift in Colorado?