From first-time visitors to long-time locals, the Telluride area continues to captivate those with a desire to experience new adventures. Stay up-to-date on what’s going on in town with my good friends at The Telluride Newb:
It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve finally made it to Telluride. The ski town living, the blood, the sweat, the tears, it’s now all real. This is a ski documentation, one that reveals all aspects of living in our own little slice of paradise. From epic face shots and après ski to the locals we meet and our hunt for work, we will convey the highs, the lows and all the sweet powder stashes in between. This is our life; see how we live it.
Montage of activities to stay busy during the Telluride off season. Waiting for snow, jobs, and skiing.
Telluride Opening Day 2010/2011!
Dutch finally gets a season pass! Special thanks to the Boot Doctors in Mountain Village!
Out of all of the lifties at all of the ski areas that we’ve visited, the ones at Telluride are by far the nicest. They always have smiles on their faces, consistently ask how things are going and manage to add a neighborly ambiance to anyone skiing or snowboarding. In a nutshell, they actually have fun while working. Because they are so noticeable on the mountain, we figured that the Teluride lifties deserved a little recognition, a tribute, if you will. Coincidentally, one of my high school friends happens to work on Lift 6, and he was more than willing to ski with us for a few runs during his break and talk about why he loves his job here in the San Juan Mountains. So, be nice to your lifties. Without them, we’d have to hike up every time we wanted to ski down. Besides, getting to know them could lead to you learning a few of their secrets, such as how to “self-bump” (whatever that means.)
The last couple days down here in Telluride were pretty epic, to say the least. The World Cup commenced, with some pretty sweet carnage happening during both the Snowboard Cross and Parallel Giant Slalom events. Lift 9, Lift 6 and the hike-to terrain in Prospect Bowl finally opened, courtesy of a hefty deposit of snow from that giant blizzard that swept the state. And of course, Bobby – our third roommate – made the permanent move down from Boulder, bringing with him a Go-Pro Helmet Cam and some sweet P.O.V. powder shots. Add all these elements together and one thing arises: high season is now in full force. Christmas is right around the corner and New Years is a few steps behind, meaning that Telluride – both on and off the slopes – will be a mad house for a while. Due to all of this, we are going to be pretty busy over the next few weeks.
This is a ski documentation, one that reveals all aspects of living in our own little slice of paradise. From epic face shots and après ski to the locals we meet, we will convey the highs, the lows and all the sweet powder stashes in between. This is our life; see how we live it.
Telluride was a hectic mess these last few weeks. Since Bobby arrived, the work, family affairs and high volume of tourists prevented us from having any down time. We barely skied together, let alone hung out together. Sure, the holiday season brought the town a ton of business, and unusually long lift lines, but it feels good to finally relax. Last Sunday was the final day of the holiday rush, concluding with the first stop of the Southwest Mogul Tour, a competition for all mogul competitors out of Telluride and Durango. Watching the event – or working it, in my case – really demonstrated how skiing has come full circle in our lives. We all met each other on the Winter Park Freestyle Team and now, more than 14 years later, we are living together in a resort town, still ripping it up. Considering that all three of us finally had a day to cruise around on the hill together, there was no better way to shred it than to go back to our roots, our mogul skiing roots that is.
The season here obviously got off to a slow start. While the Front Range received tons of snow, we barely got inches while I was lucky enough to catch laryngitis (my voice is still recovering.) But, they say that Telluride does not need a lot of snow to be good, and we now believe in this truism. Black Iron Bowl and Palmyra Peak, both amazing hike-to areas off of Prospect Bowl, officially opened. Last Wednesday marked the rope drop of Black Iron Bowl and although the cover was only decent, we got some sweet powder turns and a couple sweet, steep shots. The hike from Lift 12 takes roughly 20 minutes to the bowl’s final run, Mountain Quail, so there are really no excuses not to check it out if Ski Patrol drops the closed signs. Palmyra Peak, however, is another story. The 40-minute hike up from Mountain Quail is steep, rocky and in some places rather sketchy. Unless you are super hardcore or have impeccable balance, strapping your skis to a backpack is essential for trekking up to Tram Shot and the other runs on the peak. Plus, having a beacon, shovel and probe handy (like we did) is definitely a good idea. Sure, Palmyra Peak is within ski area boundaries, but since the terrain is the definition of extreme, you never know what could happen.
Although the skiing at Telluride is amazing, one of the primary reasons for moving here was the backcountry. Sure, the gate access from the resort gets you into some really sweet shots and pitches, but the mountains inhabiting this area are unmatched. Honestly, the backcountry here is some of the best in the state, if not the nation. At the same time, however, the terrain is as dangerous as it is epic. Many expert skiers have been caught in avalanches here and not a year goes by that at least one person gets caught in a slide, whether in Bear Creek or farther out. Luckily, we’re already on top of it, already preparing. I’ve taken an avalanche class and in the next few weeks Dutch and Bobby will take one. We’ve been practicing with our beacons on Prospect Bowl and Gold Hill, have cut our skins and even went out on a full-day tour up by Ophir with my brother-in-law to start getting our bearings. Because when it comes down to it, we are eager to explore, but we need to be careful.
It’s as if we opened Pandora’s Box, but in a good way. We love cruising the resort, lapping Gold Hill and Prospect Bowl, but ever since we began touring and practicing with our beacons, all we can think about is exploring the backcountry. It has become an obsession, an addiction. For some reason, the San Joaquin Couloir has been at the top of our “to do” list ever since we set eyes on it in December, when Lift 9 opened. Sure, there are numerous chutes, peaks and pitches that we want to ski, but San Joaquin has always been our first priority. Perhaps it was due to its jaggedness and aesthetic beauty, or to its proximity to the ski area in Bear Creek, or to the fact that almost everyone we know (including a 12 year old) has skied it. Either way, the couloir was a touring rite of passage for us, so to speak, and we can now cross it off of our list.
We’ve been in Telluride for about three months now, so obviously we’ve hit up the eight or so bars in town – they all reside within a three-block stretch. Therefore, instead of our inaugural nightlife video showcasing banal footage of us throwing down beers at a few of the local watering holes, we decided to attend the historical pub crawl put on by the Museum to add some flavor to the Telluride bar scene. Starting off with a few drinks and an awesome 1970s ski exhibit at the museum, the pub crawl led the 40 of us – both locals and tourists – to three separate bars: Honga’s (the former Roma bar), Fly Me to the Moon Saloon (known as the Moon), and the New Sheridan; where food and drink specials awaited us, as well as brief presentations by the establishments’ former owners. After about 45 minutes at each bar, the group would move to the next stop on the agenda to grab a drink and hear historical tales of miner union uprisings, murdered town sheriffs and of course, wet t-shirt contests. There was even a hilarious, 1970s-themed skit put on by the Squidshow Theater at the Moon that left everyone beaming. Overall, it was definitely fun and interesting to learn about the vast history that is Telluride while sipping on some tasty brews. The next crawl is in March and chances are that we will be there. Special thanks to Beth at the museum for putting everything together and hooking us up with the cool beer steins. We love them.
About two weeks ago, Telluride was ranked in the top ten for worldwide après-ski scenes by MSNBC.com. Other resorts that made the list include: Aspen, Bariloche (Argentina), Chamonix-Mont Blanc (France) and Whistler (Canada). Considering that we were planning on an episode dedicated to après-ski, we figured that now was better than ever to check out the scene and see if Telluride deserved the ranking. Beginning at Giuseppe’s (next to the top of Lift 9), where the altitude causes newly opened beers to easily foam over, we slowly worked our way down the resort, gaining followers and friends along the way. After a ski down See Forever, we stopped off at Gorrono Ranch to soak up some sun and hear great live music. From there, it was straight to Mountain Village for a beer at the Hop Garden followed by an epic, Jägermeister shot-ski at Tracks. And then, after a short gondola ride to the top of the mountain, we arrived at Allred’s, a fancy restaurant with a killer après and happy hour. In total, we visited five locales in about three hours, having at least one drink at each place. Even though every bar/restaurant had its perks, Allred’s takes the cake for the best après-ski on the resort. Sure, the great atmosphere and stunning views played a part, but all of the free shots that other patrons bought us because we were filming (or because we are strapping young gentlemen) definitely added to the overall experience.
Hilaree O’Neill is anything but your traditional Telluride local. After spending 5 years ski-mountaineering, racing, modeling and essentially living it up in Chamonix, France, O’Neill moved to town 10 years ago for one primary reason: to be with her now current husband, Brian, who she originally met on a ski expedition to Aconcagua, the largest mountain in South America. As a professional skier for The North Face, O’Neill travels all over the globe, skiing, filming and accomplishing what most avid skiers would kill to do. She’s starred in numerous Warren Miller Films, contributed articles to “Skiing” magazine and has a full feature in “Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America,” one of the newest and most visual ski-mountaineering books to hit the shelves. When not shredding the backcountry or descending jagged peaks in the Northern Hemisphere, the 38-year-old can be found working for Helitrax, a local heli-skiing operation, or on the resort, teaching her two sons how to ski. As a bonus, she makes a killer Thanksgiving spread that all three of us were lucky enough to experience at the beginning of the season.
A few weeks ago, we put Telluride’s MSNBC.com ranking to the test to see if it truly deserved its position as one of the top 10 après-ski scenes in the world. We stopped off at five different locales all over the resort and were pleasantly surprised with all of the options and deals to be had. But, we neglected one key aspect during that crusade: Town. Therefore, we decided to have another après-ski fest, this time focusing solely on town. Starting off at there…, Telluride’s newest bar with awesome, custom cocktails (not to mention its swanky, speakeasy resemblance), we hopped on the Galloping Goose and cruised over to the X Cafe, right at the base of Lift 8. Just like last time, we gained followers and friends at each stop, and after a quick Das Boot session (see the movie “Beerfest”) we walked over to Pescado for their cheap, early bird special of warm sake and sushi. Finally, we meandered over to the Corner House – a locals’ joint – for some all-day drink specials and good grub. Unlike our first excursion, we only managed to check out four of town’s key après-ski locales. Of course, there are many other spots, but we think our livers were thankful that we did not continue. Nevertheless, we learned that whether on the mountain or off it, Telluride’s après scene is pretty spot on.
Let’s be honest, Telluride does not need a terrain park. While most resorts construct them to attract the skiing and snowboarding youth market, we can all agree that the steep pitches, amazing scenery and epic backcountry have that demographic dialed. Because of this, the resort’s down rails, roller-coaster boxes and step-up jumps don’t even compare to those in the massive parks at Keystone or Breckenridge (resorts that need terrain parks). But, regardless of its size and features, nothing can top lapping the Hoot Brown terrain park, especially on a warm, spring, blue-bird day. Since Telluride lacks the hoards of people that constantly crowd every Front Range park, that pressure and intimidation factor to try and outdo the person ahead of you completely dissipates. Plus, when the park crew adds a few new rails, it is really easy to get your groove on. Of course, it must be noted, right at the start, that none of us are pros to the whole freeride/park scene. We love trying new tricks and hucking ourselves, but when it comes to double and triple corks, we’d rather leave it to Gus Kenworthy or Sammy Carlson than even contemplate attempting them.
We’ve been highlighting Telluride non-stop since we started (hence the name the Telluride Newb), but we feel that the time has come to look at the bigger picture – i.e. the surroundings of the San Juans. And there is no better place to start off on this outward examination than with the town of Ophir. Located a stone’s throw away from the ski area, but about a 15-minute drive away from Telluride, Ophir is the definition of a mountain/ski town. The population is minuscule, steep, jagged peaks surround it and the only town service is a post office, which from what we have heard only houses PO boxes (no employees work there). Nevertheless, the town is a place for those who prefer a more quiet life to the one that Telluride offers. In fact, most long-term residents of Telluride have spent a few years up in Ophir, living the true mountain life, so to speak. But besides all of the pristine, aesthetic beauty, Ophir’s biggest bonus is its ski-accessibility. The possibilities for ski tours from Ophir are endless. You can either head to Trout Lake and tour back to the town, skiing such runs as Gemini or Falcon, or you can head to the ski area, skin into Bear Creek and drop back down to home, literally skiing to your front door step. Because of this, there is a reason why Ophir is considered paradise to the die-hard, soul skiers of the San Juan Mountains.
Over the last four-and-a-half months of the Telluride Newb, one person has been consistently mentioned, yet not adequately introduced, throughout our weekly episodes and bi-weekly posts: Bobby Haupt. As the third leg of our Telluride-life “tripod,” Bobby moved down a few weeks after our first video, “We Finally Made It,” finding a local restaurant job, skiing as much as possible and doing everything that a recent college graduate should do. The best days we’ve had this season, thus far, have been when all three of us simply cruised around the resort – just like in the good ol’ days of mogul racing at Winter Park. We’ve all been friends for over 10 years, and even though he is not directly involved with the website, we definitely could not have done any of this without him. So, without further ado, we present a short tribute to our roommate Bobby, a true Telluride Newb.
The desired norm for any closing day is warm weather and blue-bird skies. Nothing beats finishing off the season than with slushy bumps, short sleeves and a forearm tan. But as seen on Sunday, one key word easily sums up the weather for this winter season in Telluride: unpredictable. The day prior to the resort’s last day couldn’t have been any sunnier. Closing day for the 2010-2011 season, however, was the exact opposite: cold, windy and puking snow. Visibility was at an all time low, the winds were howling, lifts had delayed openings and worst of all, the on-mountain party was nowhere to be found, since its normal location – the Hoot Brown Hut in Prospect Bowl – had been roped off. Yet, even though the first run ranked among the worst of the year, the day improved as fast as the snow accumulation. Before we knew it, April 3, 2011 had become of of the best and most memorable closing days of our lives. On top of that, we managed to find ourselves in the thick of the relocated, on-mountain party at the end of the day – an added bonus. All in all, there was truly no better way to say farewell to an epic first season in Telluride. And although the resort may be closed, exchanging our skis for mountain bikes is the last thing on our minds. Spring skiing will continue to be our top priority, at least for another 6 weeks or so.
Regardless of the below average snow year and Dutch fracturing his leg, all of us agree that this last winter was one of the best ski seasons we’ve ever had. Sure, the sweet place we landed at the base of Lift 7 and the fact that we spent most of our ski days exploring and familiarizing ourselves with the new terrain helped, but what really set this season apart from the rest were the people we met. Somehow, the local backcountry community adopted us into their tight group of powder seekers and couloir bombers. We couldn’t have been luckier. Now, as off season starts to dwindle away, welcoming summer, we figured that there was no better way to say farewell to our epic, Telluride winter than with a greatest hits compilation. So, for all of those feeling chair-lift nostalgia while watching the snow melt to dirt, this is for you.
Mountainfilm has come and gone, and with its passing comes the start of the summer season – so sayeth the Telluride locals. But, while most mountain-town film festivals feel slightly surreal, with all of the celebrities and Hollywood big shots that you’d normally find housed in an issue of People instead of waiting in line at your favorite coffee shop, Mountainfilm brings something new to the table. Inspiration, awareness, environmental activism, knowledge, these are the things that the 32nd Mountainfilm Festival stood for and promoted to the thousands of out-of-town attendees as well as the slew of locals fortunate enough to get a pass for the weekend, or at least a sweet spot in town park to chill out under the stars and watch some awesome, free flicks. Which reminds me, a big, big thanks to the Telluride Tourism Board for providing me with an all-access pass. Filled with documentaries – both long and short – on electric cars, the effects of mountain top removal operations, truck farms and what it means to be happy, the festival revealed to its audience not only what is wrong with the world, but what can be done to aid the issue. Plus, with the symposium, early morning coffee talks, numerous free food events – ice cream social, oh yeah – and epically filmed mountain biking, kayaking, skiing and slack lining films, Mountainfilm truly stands out as one of the best festivals in Telluride (and it’s only the first one I’ve attended!).
To be honest, no plan existed for an episode on the Telluride Balloon Festival. With all of the other heavy hitters (Mountainfilm, Bluegrass, Blues and Brews, etc.), videos of the other, lesser-known festivals seemed a little excessive. Besides, video space had to be saved for such summer activities like golfing, mountain biking and fly fishing, to name a few. Well, after this weekend, I can confidently say that there truly was no way not to make a Balloon Festival episode. For starters, the Tourism Board hooked it up yet again, providing me with a free ride in one of the many hot air balloons that cruised over town in the wee-hours of the morning. Sure, waking up at 5:30am was less than ideal, but watching us slowly lift off the ground made me feel as excited and giddy as a 5-year-old who just chugged two Jolt colas. It was pretty epic. At the same time, the Night Glo spectacle completely blew me away. The concept of setting up hot air balloons on Main Street at night may seem a bit silly, but with all of the people, cheers and light shows, it became one of the coolest ways to spend a summer evening in Telluride. So, in a nutshell, the Balloon Festival was awesome! Special thanks goes to Colleen and Mike Johnson for allowing me to help set up their balloon and, of course, ride in it.
Considering that the 2011 Bluegrass Festival sold out in record time, with over 11,000 people flocking to Telluride to camp, party and hear great music, finding a pass was a bit tricky. Luckily, I scored a spot volunteering for the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club’s flank steak booth. Now, working the festival is obviously far different from attending it. While most folks line up at the crack of dawn with lawn chairs and running shoes, preparing for the great sprint to secure a sweet tarp spot once the park gates open (known as the tarp run), I casually strolled in, slipped behind all the food and beer booths, and prepared sandwiches. As my friend told me, it was probably the best way to experience the festival for the first time. The music, of course, was fantastic – most notably Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show and Robert Plant and the Band of Joy. The people watching, however, was even better. Every restaurant and bar was a mad house; every spot of grass in town park, Illium Valley and the high school had a tent on it. Honestly, I saw more canvas, tie-dye and dreadlocks in one weekend than I’ve seen in my entire life. And now that the busiest weekend of the year has passed, I can admit that I am more of a fan of bluegrass than I once was. But before going overboard, let’s be honest and all agree that using a bluegrass song for a bluegrass festival video would be a little cliché. Would it not?
Canvas and dreadlocks were replaced by nice clothes and talk of dinner reservations. Those hula hoops and Hacky sacks that everyone seemed to carry went to the wayside, superseded by empty wine glasses on the hunt for a taste of Bordeaux or Chardonnay. The madness that was Bluegrass finally vanished, and in its wake arrived the 30th annual Telluride Wine Festival. Now, compared to the busiest festival of the summer, Wine Fest is pretty low key. As a gathering for the culinary lovers, the festival celebrates the palette, with tons of wine samplings, seminars, cooking demonstrations and exclusive luncheons. Of course, the highlight of the festival is the grand tasting, which for the first year ever was up at the Peaks Resort in Mountain Village instead of in town park. While tickets were hard to come by, I managed to snag myself one (thanks mom!) and found myself amongst the “winer and diner” crowd, sampling anything I could get my hands on, from wine and beer to gin and mezcal. But, even though the wine appeared to be the star of the event, the people brought on the experience. All preconceptions of a distinguished, refined wine and cheese party were shattered. Honestly, the tasting felt more like a full-force après-ski session. And in between Malbecs and Sauvignon Blancs, I felt compelled to get to know some of the attendees, to understand why they traveled all this way to sip wine while gazing at Wilson Peak. Most importantly, I wanted to know what their favorite drinking game was.
No matter where you are on Independence Day, you’re going to have a great time. The summer sun, the parades, the barbecues, the parties and the fireworks all add up to make one hell of a day. And Telluride is no exception. Starting out with a Main Street parade that the whole town practically participates in, visitors and locals alike found the 4th of July filled with block parties and cookouts, most notably the fireman’s picnic in town park. Add to the equation slip ‘n slide kickball, potato sack races and day hikes and there truly was no dull moment for anyone on America’s birthday. And although the fireworks put on by the fire department were spectacular, especially from a viewpoint so close that you could actually feel them going off, the highlight of the entire day was undoubtedly the jet flybys, which kicked off the parade. The sound waves bouncing off of town and the surrounding peaks were pretty epic, to say the least.
We heard rumors about it from locals, had friends mention it when discussing upcoming visits, but ever since the stunning image of it appeared on the cover of the newest issue of “Telluride Magazine,” there was really no way that we could spend a summer in Telluride without doing the Via Ferrata. It just had to be done. So, grabbing all of the ski-rappelling equipment that we amassed last winter, we started up the rocky, sketchy, mountain traverse. Utilizing carabiners and clipping into steel cables when needed, we passed thorny bushes, crossed over loose rock, and in multiple cases, carefully maneuvered from one steel hold to another while gazing at the 300-ft drop below. Now, there was never a moment during the excursion where I honestly felt as if my life was in danger. Sure, one misstep could leave you tumbling down a steep, rocky face, but for the most part, the Via Ferrata is entirely doable. But, during the entire route, my body pumped out a constant stream of adrenaline – something I’ve never felt before – to help me focus and ensure that every move I made was careful and calculated. Plus, having cables to clip in to definitely helped calm the nerves a bit, especially on the really exposed sections.
With all the festivals, warm weather and outdoor excursions to keep you entertained in the summer, its easy to ignore the constant cries from your hall closet or garage. What was once their heyday in winter, your skis have now spent the last few months in the dark, collecting dust, while you mountain bike, fly fish and jam out to Bluegrass music. Needless to say, your skis are pissed off. Lucky for them, last weekend’s Lunar Cup gave them a little love. Located at the top of Tomboy Road in Savage Basin, the Lunar Cup is an annual, local ski race that gives mother nature a run for its money; just because it’s summer doesn’t mean we can’t shred the gnar! Originating in 1977, the event consists of teams of 4 in one of three disciplines – alpine, snowboarding and mixed – cruising through a slalom-esque course as fast as possible. Each team must have at least one girl and extra points are given for style and costume “loudness.” Being that last Saturday’s race was my first, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Although I missed out on the camp-out party the night before, I did arrive early enough to see the hung over remnants. And since the weather was beautiful, the snow was in top form and everyone was decked out in costumes and good spirits, the Lunar Cup definitely was the most fun race I’ve ever done. Plus, it felt damn good to get back on skis for a few hours. Big, big props to Roby and Herb Manning for putting the race on. It was a blast!
What do you get when you combine six ATVs, three GoPros and a hankering to get dirty after days of torrential downpours? You get an awesome, kick-ass time conquering 4X4 roads and getting muddy. You also get some pretty sweet footage for an ATV episode. Operating snowmobile tours in the winter, Telluride Snowmobile Adventures becomes Telluride ATV Tours in the summer to offer, obviously, ATV tours to all those craving a little off-road exploration. On this particular journey, we headed up to Beaver Park by Woods Lake to check out epic views of Wilson Peak’s backside, wildflower-filled meadows and puddle after puddle of rich, muddy goodness. Besides, nothing beats the smell of ATV exhaust and a revving engine while surrounded by pristine, Telluride scenery. Special thanks to Mike Dority of Telluride ATV Tours and the Telluride Tourism Board for hooking it up with the trip and helping us find that mysterious yeti, who somehow shows up every time Mike runs an ATV tour. Also, a big shout out to Wade and Hank at The Adventurous 500. If you haven’t checked out their site, head over their now. They just finished covering Telluride and their content rocks!
As a kid growing up in the Front Range, we went fishing only on special occasions, like Father’s Day, and I never really got into it. The fact that I never actually caught a fish and spent the majority of my time unhooking my fly from branches probably had something to do with it. But, fly fishing in Telluride, especially with San Miguel Angler Dave Hill, is something else. Heading out of town early, Dave, myself and Emily from the Telluride Tourism Board cruised up to Barlow Creek, just past Ophir, to do a little fly fishing. After a bit of casting practice, we meandered up the pristine creek, hunting for Cutthroat and Brook Trout. Though the first half of the day passed without a single rise, we began catching fish after fish as the temperature increased, once they finally woke up – according to Dave. Dave Hill, for those who don’t know, is somewhat of a Telluride local legend. He’s been living in the box canyon for as many years as he’s been guiding fly fishing trips, and he’s known for getting the job done (catching fish, that is). Besides being a blast to fish with, he’s the best person to ease your frustrations if they aren’t cooperating (biting). He’s got stories, anecdotes and a ton of jokes to make your day that much better. In other words, Dave Hill of San Miguel Anglers is the man.
Mountain biking has definitely replaced skiing as our seasonal fixation here in Telluride. Sure, we’ve attended almost every festival, as well as hiked and camped our faces off over these last few months, but when it comes to biking, its the one thing – like skiing – that we obsess over. Especially once the Telluride Ski Area opened their mountain biking trails. Filled with steep uphills, epic single tracks and awesome downhill sections, the ski area has some pretty unbelievable mountain biking – the downhill portion of the Prospect Trail instantly comes to mind. Plus, for those with the right gear (my single suspension, disc-brake set up, I learned, is far from ideal), the downhill bike park is killer, filled with sharp turns and gap jumps. Sure, the entire Telluride area is filled with unmatched mountain biking trails, but we felt that the ski area had to be covered first. Besides, nothing beats that quick, 10-minute gondola ride up to the top of the resort. You can easily save all of your energy to tackle the Village Trail or Prospect Loop before cruising down Jurassic and the Meadows trails to finish off a great ride. Oh, and don’t worry, I’m fine. Just a few scratches and a big bruise. They come with the territory – Telluride mountain biking, that is.
Out of all of the mountains surrounding Telluride, Wilson Peak has taunted us the most. Part of it probably has to do with our unsuccessful attempt to ski its north face in May, while the fact that it has starred in numerous Coors commercials definitely added fuel to the fire. Either way, there was no way to conclude our first summer in the box canyon without climbing Wilson Peak. Now, the 14er can easily be conquered in one day, especially since the USFS reopened the Rock of Ages Trail via Silver Pick Basin at the beginning of August. Nevertheless, we wanted to get our camping on, so we cruised up the straightforward, roughly 5-mile Kilpacker Trail to Navajo Lake, passing lush forest and wildflowers galore. Once there, we set up camp, got the fishing rods out and dined in front of towering, jagged peaks before getting some rest for the day ahead. Tackling the peak from the rear, however, was a bit longer than anticipated, mainly because the entire route consists of rock fields and scree. At one point, on the peak’s south face, the trail completely disappeared – scrambling and “billy goating” became the only way to push on. But, after arriving to the false summit, the best and final part lay ahead: a somewhat sketchy, almost vertical climb up the last hundred-or-so feet. Once at the summit, after signing the “I made it” papers and checking out the gorgeous views, the only thing left to do was scream “tap the Rockies motherf#$%er!” Sure, it was a bit cheesy, but so are all of those Wilson Peak, Coors commercials, right?
The mountain biking on the Telluride Ski Resort, as already seen, is pretty damn sweet. The technical aspects, the quick uphills and the smooth downhills (especially on the Prospect Trail) pretty much top most biking trails around the state. But, sometimes riding the gondola up to cruise on down through Mountain Village just doesn’t do the trick, and that’s where the trails around Telluride come in to play. Granted, the best way to access Alta Lakes and check out the ghost town is via the ski area (the Boomerang Trail), as well as hit up the awesome downhill section on T-35 (the Sunshine Trail) before looping back to town on the Galloping Goose Trail, but some of the best Telluride mountain biking resides just outside of town. A quick ride west on the Valley Floor and a lengthy uphill shot up Airport Road will get you to Rudi’s, a single track with epic views that is apparently named after a Viet Nam veteran who lived in a cave near the trail for quite some time. Once finishing up Rudi’s, the best course of action for those who crave more is to head up Mill Creek Road to the Deep Creek Trail, one of the prettier mountain biking trails around. The uphill can be challenging, but the smooth, flat traverse back to the Jud Wiebe trail rocks. Plus, that steep ride back to town, avoiding the occasional hiker and dog, is the icing on the cake. Yup, Telluride mountain biking could keep you entertained for quite sometime. And although we’ve only scratched the surface of what the area has to offer, one thing can surely be said: I’m getting a lot better at falling.
The Flaming Lips, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Willie Nelson and a ton of beer; seriously, what more could you want? How about media passes and Dutch behind the camera, once again? Because for all 3 days of the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival last weekend, the Telluride Newb was back in full force. In its 18th year, the last, big festival of the summer was not only the best way to say goodbye to the warm weather, but also the best way to welcome the winter – in more ways than one. During the Grand Tasting, where both local and national microbreweries showcased almost 150 different beers, a freak, frigid, rain storm transformed into a quasi-snow storm, hinting at what’s to come in the next few months. Of course, the snow was by no means the star of the show, though the few inches that coated Ajax Peak certainly grabbed the attention of most attendees. No, the true star (besides the beer) was the unbelievable, sensory-overloaded set of The Flaming Lips. Sure, their music does not fall into the blues category, but experiencing them in as intimate a setting as Town Park certainly made their performance out of this world. So, in a nutshell, Blues and Brews kicked ass! Honestly, there was no better way to finish off the high season.
Lets not beat around the bush, summer had a lot of work ahead of it. The winter brought us one of the best ski seasons we’ve ever had, and since locals constantly praised the awesomeness of Telluride summers, we had very high expectations, to say the least. But, after four months of festivals, mountain biking, backpacking and fly fishing, we can safely say that summer may actually be the best Telluride season. Of course, not all of us got to experience the epic, sunny days traversing the Via Ferrata, riding in a hot air balloon and competing in the Lunar Cup. While Bobby and I took advantage of everything a Telluride summer possesses (minus a few), Dutch traveled around the world, exploring 16 countries throughout Europe, Asia and South America. Luckily, he returned just in time for Blues and Brews, the best and most entertaining festival of the summer (especially if you get sick of hippies easily – we’re looking at you Bluegrass!) So, with the warm days disappearing and the sun setting earlier, it seemed only proper to finish our epic Telluride summer with a greatest hits compilation. And with off season now in full force, we’re gonna take a little break, giving us time to regroup and prepare for the unbelievable winter ahead.