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Telluride, Feb 17-21, 2018

Olesya Chornoguz

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
After a spending a ski week in Taos a crew of 3 Divas (@nopoleskier , @marzNC and me) as well as marzNC ski buddy Bill drove to Telluride for 3 days of skiing. We all had Mountain Collective Pass, so decided to check out Telluride this winter.
Some impressions from Day 1 - the views! When you get to the top of Gold Hill Express you can take See Forever - very easy blue trail, but the views are amazing:

The mountain is quite big, 2000+ acres according to their web-site. My favorite part about it was the variety of terrain, from easy greens to double blacks. I would say a very even distribution of terrain for all levels. I loved that they had double blue squares - ungroomed blue slopes, fun way to go in and sample ungroomed terrain without intimidation factor. I got a cold when we arrived to Telluride, wasn't feeling well so I didn't want to ski many black diamonds, though I skied Revelation Bowl on Sunday and it had some very nice snow in places. I also skied some other blacks here and there, but mostly blues and double blues after the we got fresh snow on Monday. I will say since this was a holiday weekend the mountain was a bit crowded in my opinion, well at least in some places.

We stayed in Telluride Lodge which is a condo complex that is right next to the Coonskin lift (lift 7), we walked to lift 7 every morning. The town is really charming with a lot of shops and restaurants, but I would say Telluride is Aspen-level expensive.
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Telluride was very nice.. My first trip. our condo was in an excellent location. Here's more photos to make you drool.. Being in a "Box" canyon is amazing. The drive up from Taos, thru Durango (great town) to Telluride along the San Juan Sky Way road was spectacular. I have too many photos. These are mostly of Revelation Bowl. It opened on Monday.. We also got 9-11" of real powder to play in...


REVELATION BOWL Below: ABOVE: Looking over at Revelation Bowl IT WAS Steep and Fantastic
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VIEWS ARE SPECTACULAR.. Below.. Looking DOWN into Revelation Bowl

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Appropriately named "ALTA" Great soft bumps

Below. View from top of Revelation Chair
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We skied Telluride more than 20 years ago, and I'm sure it's totally changed.

But I remember enjoying the variety of slopes, and in particular some wide slopes which were groomed on one side. So you could venture into the ungroomed, then escape back to the groomed side if you needed to.


Angel Diva
This trip was my first time skiing at Telluride as well. Glad we had a chance to check it out on the MCP. Telluride won't be on the MCP next season because they are starting a long term arrangement with the Vail Epic Pass starting in 2018-19.

Since Bill has been going with his local ski club in recent years, we didn't bother with the free mountain tour. We got pretty lucky in terms of weather for our three days at Telluride. First day was Sunday of the Pres. Day weekend with blue skies and in the 20s. So we could see the great views from See Forever, the blue on the summit ridge. It was good to be able to cover enough of the mountain to figure out how to get from one section to another. Monday it snowed pretty much all day so visibility was low, but the slopes were empty after lunch. The upper mountain lifts stayed closed all day due to wind and low visibility. Tuesday was pretty cold, but there was 9+ inches of fresh snow and partly cloudy, with all the lifts open. The extreme hike-to double-black terrain wasn't open but that didn't make any difference to us. With the new snow, there were soft bumps for fun on black and blue-blue trails. Not quite enough coverage for the trees yet. There are a lot of fun groomers rated as green, green-green, blue, blue-blue, and black. Even on a holiday weekend, only a few times and places where the wait for a lift was more than a couple minutes.

Hope to add notes to the trip report soon. In the mean time, some misc pictures.

Getting ready to explore starting from the Mountain Village (MarzNC, Bill, nopoleskier, Olesya)
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Waiting for Lift 7 to open on Pres. Day
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Lift 7 goes over the gondola! Opted to use my Absolut Joys on the groomers
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We stayed at Telluride Lodge, right across the street from Lift 7 - photo taken at 3:30pm as the snow continued
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Tuesday after the snowstorm, walk over the bridge and through the passageway to get to Lift 7
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View of town at the top of a black groomer first thing on Tuesday morning
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Angel Diva
More pics . . .

Fresh snow off Lift 9 aka Plunge lift, left side is Mammoth
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Telluride has good signage
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Lots of wide groomers, do you see the people? Mountain Village is straight ahead
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Alta, a blue trail off the Polar Queen Express that is groomed often enough that bumps don't get too big
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The skis for fresh snow on the long Sunshine high-speed quad
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On mountain restrooms are quite posh, even when just a separate building
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Finally getting around to writing down notes . . .

The day after the storm was clearly going to be a powder day. I opted to ride the bus around 8:30 to the gondola to get a head start to get to Lift 9-Plunge. By the time I got there at 8:45, the line for Lift 8 (old double) was already to the bridge. Turns out that you can wait inside the gondola building until 9:00 to ride up to mid-station at St. Sophia. It was nice to be out of the wind. There were 20-30 people waiting inside by the time we started loading. People using the gondola to go to Mountain Village had no wait at all. Since the cabins hold 8 people, it took very little time to clear out the folks waiting who were looking for early bird power turns. I noticed a few of the cabins had carriers on the back for snowboards or fat skis.

Once out of the gondola station at St. Sophia, it’s a short walk on pretty flat terrain to get to where it’s worth putting on skis for the run down Telluride Trail (blue) to Lookout (double blue). I went to the far side singles line and didn’t have long to wait for a ride up. Lift 9 is currently a triple and many people skiing together are a pair. People riding Lift 9 know how to alternate even the singles lines although a liftie was helping manage the lines a bit. I rode up with a mother and tween daughter from Boston. The family includes four kids and they have a house at Telluride. It was pretty clear the kids have all been skiing since they were little from how the girl talked about where they should ski. From Lift 9, you get a pretty good view of the cut trails and can see what’s been groomed and what is fresh snow. I decided to follow the family's example and give Mammoth a try, which was totally ungroomed. There was 10+ inches of slightly heavy powder on top of large bumps. There were plenty of people around, some having more trouble than others. I probably wouldn't have gone solo if I hadn't just skied for week at Taos.

By the time I finished Mammoth and Bushwacker (groomed), it was about 10am and the line for Lift 9 was pretty long. So I skied to town to take a ride up Lift 8 for the view. That's the original double. Then skied down to ride up Lift 7 for that view. Neither had any line mid-morning. Riding up a double over steep terrain with no bar is probably not for everyone.

Lifts 7, 8, 9 cover the original terrain when Telluride was opened in the 1970s. It’s easy to see why the reputation for a while was that Telluride was mainly for advanced/expert skiers. Most of the terrain on the town side is rated double-blue, black, or double-black. But the gondola makes it easy for beginners and cautious intermediates to get to the mellow green/blue terrain or to return to town at the end of a ski day.

Line for Lift 8 from town (old double next to gondola) around 8:45am, lift opens at 9:00
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Walking from St. Sophia Station towards Telluride Trail and access to Lifts 8 & 9
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Fresh snow on Mammoth, big bumps underneath 9+ inches
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Lift 9-Plunge line around 10am, much less wind on the town side, plus sunny in the morning and flat light in the afternoon
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Top of Lift 8, no safety bars
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Riding Lift 7, just enough snow that the black under the lift was open
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The trail map had both lift numbers and names. But the signs for lift closures only used numbers. For instance, there were signs all over when Lifts 6, 14, 15 were on wind hold. So it pays to learn the numbers. Many of the lift names are also the name of a trail or area, so in some ways the numbers are clearer. Telluride uses stone-based trail maps that are waterproof and tear-resistant, pretty neat.

An easy lunch option at Mountain Village is Crazy Elk Pizza. It's right on the slope between the base on Lift 4-Village Express and the access to the Meadows. A slice is a quarter of a 16-inch pizza and a pretty good deal. Gorrono Ranch at mid-mountain above Mountain Village is where the ski school instructors take the kids for a morning snack, and perhaps for lunch too. The cafeteria there has quite a few options, including noodle bowls. There is BBQ food in a separate section with an outdoor entrance. Can go directly in a door to the lower level where the restrooms are located. In the afternoons, there is music and lots of space to hang out outdoors when the weather is nice.

The High Camp Warming Hut at the top of Lift 12-Prospect Express has hot and cold drinks, plus basic food. We ended up hanging out for a little while after riding Lift 10-Sunshine Express because the upper lifts were on wind hold as the storm moved in. When Lift 14-Gold Hill is closed, it’s possible to hike the little hill up from the base of the gondola and Lift 4-Village Express and ski down the Meadows to reach Sunshine in order to get to Prospect Bowl. Sunshine is a 11-min ride but it’s a high-speed detachable and goes a long way, mostly in the trees. Get a close up view of a few of the really big houses. Apparently before Lift 12-Prospect was built, Sunshine was called the “lift to nowhere” because it only served the wide blue trails and long green that access those houses.

Giuseppe’s at the top of Lift 9-Plunge is well worth going for lunch on a day with good visibility and not too much wind. It’s at almost 12,000 ft. The food is unusual, good, and comes out fast. You wait in line to order, then your food is brought to your table. There are a few small tables inside but most people sit at the picnic tables outdoors. The restrooms are a short walk down in a separate building that’s between Giuseppe’s and the ski patrol hut. That’s because it’s possible to ski close to the restrooms from the other direction from See Forever and walk up.

Restrooms are available on-mountain in several locations near the top of several lifts. They are all real restrooms with heat and electricity, even the small buildings.
I rode up with a Mountain Ambassador (yellow jackets) on Lift 12-Prospect the afternoon the storm was moving in. It was already getting hard to see at the top and the wind was picking up. The Ambassador took me down Magnolia (blue). There was enough new snow that with the ups and downs possible on Magnolia, the route the Ambassador picked meant I had to herringbone up in a couple places. He hasn't realized how much snow had already built up. Usually that area is all groomed and keeping up speed is not an issue. He confirmed on the next ride up that the double-greens off Prospect would be way too flat with fresh snow. Learned that the view is very nice from Lower Galloping Goose (green all the way to the base of Meadows). Galloping Goose is 4.6 miles long and some sections is a cat track. The other double greens on that side are very wide, gentle cruisers, but stay interesting because the pitch varies.
We stayed in Telluride Lodge which is a condo complex that is right next to the Coonskin lift (lift 7), we walked to lift 7 every morning. The town is really charming with a lot of shops and restaurants, but I would say Telluride is Aspen-level expensive.
Agree that Telluride is a relatively expensive destination resort. There really aren't lower cost options such as can be found in Basalt or Carbondale that are alternatives to the town of Aspen or slope side at Snowmass.

The other issue for Telluride is the lack of parking available if you drive there. Telluride Lodge only has space for one vehicle per condo, even one that could theoretically sleep 8-10. We had to park the second car in the free lot at the north end of town, but overnight parking is only supposed to be for 72 hours. Not too much parking around Mountain Village either. Definitely easiest to fly into Montrose and take a shuttle when staying for a week.

The bus that runs a loop in town runs every 10 minutes pretty much all day and pretty late at night too. A little confusing because there are no bus stop signs. Every corner is a potential stop. But you have to know which streets the bus runs on.

We didn't have time to explore the parts of town that had shops and most of the restaurants. The dinner we had at the Thai fusion restaurant that was close to our condo was very good. Since it was a holiday week, we had to get there by 5:15 in order to avoid waiting for a table.

Locals seem to use bikes in the winter for basic transportation. Saw plenty of them heading home on a bike after doing grocery shopping.

The Clarks Market was very close to our condo. Not too big but had a very good selection perfect for people on vacation who have a microwave/frig or a kitchen. Not only prepared food, but also all sorts of options for supplies in smaller quantities. Open 7am-9pm.
Even though Telluride has 2000 acres, it’s fairly easy to get a sense of the layout in a day when visibility is good. Taking the free mountain tour is probably worthwhile at the beginning of a ski vacation there.

Our first day we rode all the lifts except Lift 8 from town. Except during holiday weekends, lift lines are unlikely to be much of an issue. Even over Pres. Day weekend, only Lift 4-Village Express was busy midday. The longer wait for Lift 9-Plunge on the powder morning was still not really bad compared to other more accessible mountains. The fact that the upper mountain lifts opened late due to wind was a factor too.

When Lift 14-Gold Hill is closed, then takes 25-30 min to get from Mountain Village to the top of Prospect Bowl. The ride on Lift 10-Sunshine is 11 min. To return to Mountain Village requires taking the Lynx Poma (short and pretty flat) in order to get to Sundance (blue) in order to get to the Chondola at the base of Meadows. There are also double-green trails that are usually groomed.

The only confusing part in terms of directions is that the bases of the Gold Hill and Prospect lifts are close to together. Need to pay attention the first few times to make sure to end up in the right place. There are signs that do help.

Apparently Lift 4 will be upgraded for 2018-19 to a 6-pack. That will help get people away from the Mountain Village quicker in the mornings or after lunch. I also heard that Lift 9 is likely to get upgraded to a quad. Perhaps by moving the current Lift 4 quad over to the Plunge area.

Looking at the history of Telluride, terrain and lifts have been added steadily since the 1990s. With the new long term agreement with Vail that makes days at Telluride a perk for Epic passholders, I would expect upgrading the older lifts to continue.

I'm not in a hurry to go back to Telluride. There are other places I'd rather go for the first time. But I'm glad we had a chance to check it out by taking advantage of the MCP.

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