THIS FORMER MINING VILLAGE COMBINES EPIC SKIING ON UNCROWDED, HIGH-ALTITUDE RUNS WITH UNPRETENTIOUS OLD WEST VIBES.
By ALEX BHATTACHARJI
As a half-dozen skiers, planks slung over their shoulders, hiked past us up the ridge toward Telluride’s famed 13,320-foot Palmyra peak, my new friend Seth thrust his ski pole forward for emphasis and shouted, “Confidence!”
It was less an exhortation than an exclamation of discovery. Seth, a fortysomething attorney from Chicago I’d met on the gondola in town, had found the black-diamond run bearing that name was somehow still unskied, despite the fact it was approaching midday. Falling away between granite walls and pines that poked out of deep billowy drifts, its untouched powder reflected the strong bluebird day sun. Before us, the expansive vista of Colorado’s San Juans’ spiny ridges and sharp peaks were blanketed in 19 inches of fresh snowfall. Just up the mountain lay some of the most extreme in-bounds terrain in America; on our other flank, Galloping Goose, a beginner run that wends more than four and a half miles to the base of the mountain.
I followed Seth as we carved first tracks down the run, kicking up a spray of snow softened slightly by the morning sun, and made our way over to the Gold Hill Express lift, where there was no line—as had been the case at the gondola from town and every lift we’d taken up to 12,000 feet. It was a late-season Saturday, no less. Pretty much everyone in town was on the mountain and yet it felt intimate, like a living room concert, in one of nature’s most spectacular stadiums.