Saturday, March 01, 2008

Telluride - days 33-34

Telluride reminds me a lot of Squaw Valley. It's a big ski area with big lines and a lot of rich people. Luckily the rich and the people skiing big lines don't usually overlap a whole lot. When my mother, brother and I were there, we lucked into a few inches of fresh snow. I lost my first day to day-ending stomach cramps, something that's never happened to me badly enough to prevent pursuit of my desired plans for the day. The second day was pretty good, though. Zach and I peeled off in the morning and worked the Prospect Bowl area for a while, then the Gold Hill area for a while. Prospect Bowl was annoying in that the chair lift is very long and about two thirds of it is very flat. It also isn't placed very far up the ridgeline that accesses the more interesting lines in the area. Due to the aftermath of the previous day's festivities, I didn't end up hiking the ridgeline much, although Zach did and found some rocks that have made his skis look a lot older. Also some deep powder, but the really deep day for us was at a different resort.

Lines I particularly enjoyed at Telluride were the near hikes on the Prospect/Black Iron ridgeline, a couple of Dynamo variations we did, which were exactly my cup of tea - it chokes into a funky little couloir, and Jackpot off of Bald Mountain, which is a hike. For those readers looking at a map, my brother and I are not extreme. Telluride's got some extreme terrain, although I don't know if they open any of it, but the stuff that's marked as extreme isn't, at least in the snow conditions they had when we were there. The first time we did Dynamo and got to the choke, there were caution signs all around its mouth. Of course, Zach and I stopped to scout it and make sure we weren't about to ski over exposed rocks and that we could land whatever air or straightline might be required. While there were some rocks, they would only be an issue for someone dropping in via the shoulder, and there was no air or straightline. Evidently Telluride and Whistler use the same people to sign their terrain.

Telluride is notable for having very light, fluffy powder and for its moguls. Much of Telluride's advanced and expert terrain consists of big, open pistes that are never groomed. They also don't get as much annual snowfall as Tahoe. Telluride claims a little over 300" on their web site, while Sugarbowl claims 500." Which means that while Sierra snow has an incredible memory for moguls, Telluride's sit around for longer and weren't covered under a whole lot of fresh when we were there. They are, however, very even. I saw some amazing mogul skiers there, including a guy on what I think were last year's Mantras. They're the model with the red topsheet, and if I'm identifying them correctly, 2mm narrower than mine but just as stiff. The point is that the guy looked like he was on mogul skis based on how well he skied them.

Sooner or later I'll revisit Telluride, I'm sure, and hopefully the conditions will be right to hike a lot more of the terrain off of Prospect Bowl. I'd also like to have Dukes on my skis when that happens. While much of the hiking Zach and I did wasn't skinnable, at least as I understanding skinning, some of it was. I've also talked to a lot of people on Dukes on the lift, and they say that they improve edging performance on their skis too. Some even buy them for that purpose, with no hiking or skinning in mind.

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