Telluride: a slide on Colorado's Wilder Side

snow action team 11.10.2012

Mellow cut runs through the trees are all well & good, but nothing gets real skiers’ blood pumping like big alpine terrain. In colorado that doesn’t get more spectacular than at Telluride. Even better, they actually encourage you to get stuck into it, with smart stuff like the gold hill staircase to ease access to the in-bounds back & side country.

Switchback pic B Schreckengost/telluride

No question, this place is spectacular – flying into Telluride for the first time, despite having skied and visited so many other resorts around the world, I was absolutely in awe of the amazing surrounding San Juan mountains.

With the highest concentration of 14,000’ plus peaks in America, they just scream ‘Big mountain terrain!’, and Telluride’s pro-active back and side country policy for opening it up means you get a mouth-watering selection of tasty options actually on the trail map. The advanced terrain is arguably unsurpassed in North America. From any of the lifts you can pick a number of bowls, chutes, or even groomed black runs back into the town. Revelation Bowl is a must for the advanced skier, it’s not the longest runs here, but the backdrop is a sight that can be awe inspiring and belittling all at the same time.

The terrain you can hike out to is even more challenging and epic for the extreme skier. Close areas include The Gold Hill Chutes, Bald Mountain and Black Iron Bowl. They even built a mesh ladder part way up to make the hike easier, more reminiscent of Europe than the USA. Or if you’re looking for some hard core hiking and skiing, 13,150’ Palmyra Peak is about 1 to 1.5 hours from the top of Prospect Lift, and is arguably some of the most scenic skiable terrain in the whole area, yet is still officially classed as in the ski area boundary. But of course there’s endless corduroy cruising too, and it’s very family friendly – this is Colorado after all. Even better, that’s where most people stay, on the groomers, so even on powder days the lift lines are pretty much non-existent. Many a run can be taken where you can easily think you’re the only person on the mountain. This is due to Telluride being slightly further away from larger cities and a bit more of an effort to get to, but that’s what makes Telluride such a gem of a resort.

The progressive parks set up will keep freeriders happy, and progressing rapidly with some coaching.

The mountain village and town set up is as different as the terrain, combing the original authentic gold and silver mining town, that oozes old West, with Victorian era homes and clapboard storefronts, infamous for having its bank robbed by Robert Leroy Parker, later to become Butch Cassidy, back in 1889, with the spectacular modern mid-Mountain Village.

The old town is nestled in a massive box canyon, surrounded by breathtaking scenery. There are dozens of restaurants, bars, boutique stores and art galleries in town.

The Telluride Gondola is right at the base of the mountain, in town right next to the Camel’s Garden Hotel. You can ski all the way back to town at the end of the day. From where you unclip, the Oaks Restaurant is just 10 steps away, and is an absolute must for apres beverages that can easily roll into dinner. A double chair provides a lift out from the other side of downtown, hooking up with an expansive high-tech lift network on the main mountain.

The Mountain Village is exactly that. Laden with wood and stone, it has a great square that consists of a number of restaurants, bars and shops and its own grocery store and Post Office. Modern lodging properties all boast ski in / ski out positions. The Gondola runs between town and the Mountain Village till midnight in just 13 minutes, so whether you stay in town or the village it’s easy access to either.

The one restaurant people must try for dinner is Allred’s, located at the Saint Sophia mid-station of the gondola, where it peaks the ridge out of town before dropping down to the mid-mountain village. It offers excellent steak and seafood, with live piano music, setting the ambience for the stunning views over Telluride eighteen hundred feet below.

If you’re looking for a good bar check out Tomboy Tavern in the Mountain Village, as it offers cheap beers all winter, but if you are looking at where the locals go check out The Last Dollar (aka The Buck), for a genuine western flavour.

[the ticket] telluride

what’s new outstanding dining establishments Bon Vivant and Tomboy Tavern. Telluride is now the culinary ski resort of North America.

operators Snowcapped Tours are Telluride specialists

snowcapped.com.au 1800 766 922 more  tellurideskiresort.com

To Stay: Mountain Lodge Telluride

Mountain Lodge is a great property for singles, couples, families or groups.From the Lodge Rooms up to 3, 4 & 6 Bedroom freestanding wooden cabins, get the absolute essence of both rustic Western American culture and modern alpine living. Secluded yet super convenient, this ski in / ski out property has absolutely everything at hand.

Also has a fantastic heated pool and 2 hot tubs to wind your day down with a drink after skiing. It boasts The View restaurant which not only offers fine dining, but a 50 foot high timbered ceiling with a floor to ceiling window offering epic views of the surrounding San Juan Mountains.

7 night package twin share including lifts from $AUD 1098 pp, details snowcapped.com.au