Reviewed by Eric Hansen
Nov 06, 2008
The term “champagne powder” was coined in Steamboat Springs, and the town boasts more Winter Olympians (63) than anywhere else in the country. Coincidence? No, sirree. The two big hills (Mount Werner and Storm Peak) gather some of the fluffiest, most consistent snowfall in the state, like this year’s 105 inches in 11 days.
The small to zilch lift lines—even during spring break—are a welcome change, along with the epic backcountry access, newly opened Tunnel Face (another nod to persistent poaching creating change), and no sign of Vail-tude.
Just 25 miles north of the historic mining town of Durango, Colorado.
“Telluride is a skier’s mountain and a skier’s town,” then town councilman Rasta Stevie said in the 1987 film The Blizzard of Aahhh’s. And not much has changed. No stoplights or commercial chains, and a loose, lawless vibe. Locals still lap lift nine’s Kant-Mak-M and the glades off chair six, get drunk off cheap Budweiser at the Last Dollar Saloon, and score big at the Free Box. But recent upgrades allow skiers to ride a lift to Gold Hill’s steep chutes and hike to Palmyra Peak’s now-inbounds big-mountain terrain, powder-stuffed coulies, and 2,000-vertical-foot descents. So, Stevie, though you and some of your brethren are gone, Telluride remains funky and dirtbags continue to live in Inity with Jah-iration. Seen?
Powder Day: Ski laps on 35-degree Silver Glade and Zulu Queen under Chair 6 until 10 o’clock, when patrol opens the gate atop Chair 5. Then bust it over to Gold Hill for a round of treeless faces that roll over into pinched 35-degree funnels.
Three Days Later: Boot-pack 10 minutes from Chair 12 to the 350-foot, 40-degree Prospect Extremes—Genevieve, La Rosa, and Crystal. It’s the steepest rock garden on the mountain and a magnet for snow.
Park and pipe: Telluride’s 10 tables, 20 rails, and one superpipe aren’t what the majority of people come here for. That’s good news if you’re a jibber. Choose your poison: Ute Park for beginners, Butterfly for intermediates, and Air Garden for experts.
Weather: Telluride sits in a box canyon that traps storms for days—especially in March, when three feet can fall in 36 hours. When it’s not snowing, it’s sunny 300 days a year.
Après: Head to the sunny front porch of The West End Tavern, one block from the base of Lift 7, for stinging margaritas ($5) and cute waitresses.
Up all night: Channel Jerry with the jam bands at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon downtown. Later, watch for low-flying darts at the late-night drunkhole called The Last Dollar Saloon, a.k.a. The Buck.
Digs: The Hotel Telluride offers early-season doubles for $99 per night, two nights minimum. Book a room and get a 75-minute massage for another $99 (thehoteltelluride.com).