Reviewed by Eric Hansen
Nov 06, 2008
The experience is more heli-skiing than resort skiing, but instead of dropping $800, you ride an old double chairlift all day for $99.
Unlike many resorts in the area, enjoy free parking and a shuttle to the base of the hill. Get there early for first tracks—the bus runs starting at 6:30 a.m.
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“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).