On the hill: Drooling in Telluride
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
TELLURIDE, Colo. – My son Billy had a freestyle skiing competition in Telluride last weekend, so we traveled down together for a short ski vacation.
As a dad, my first aim for the weekend was to deliver my kid to the course, root for him and make sure he had fun. My second objective was to have fun myself, and that involved skiing some of Telluride’s recently opened and highly touted hike-to terrain.
I skied Telluride a couple of years ago and took a few short hikes from the Prospect Express chair to some lines in what they call Black Iron Bowl. That was a fun trip, and the terrain back there had the best snow conditions on the mountain.
Since that time, though, the resort has opened steeper and more challenging shots on 13,320-foot Palmyra Peak, which literally towers over the upper portion of the ski area, and a handful of additional chutes on Gold Hill, a ridge connected to Palmyra Peak.
Our first couple of chair rides on Friday morning revealed that all this high, rugged terrain was cloaked in fresh snow after a healthy storm earlier in the week. And it remained unskied.
Wiping the drool from my chin, I approached a patroller near one of the access gates and asked when the hike-to terrain would open.
With a shrug, he apologized and said he didn’t know. A Warren Miller film crew was shooting up there and the gates would remain closed until the shoot was complete. I couldn’t fathom why these guys had to have the entire peak to themselves, but perhaps it makes for prettier pictures.
By the end of Friday, I could spot a few beautiful tracks descending through fields of uncut powder off Gold Hill and Palmyra Peak, but even the next day patrollers were still saying “closed” – always with a friendly apology. My sense was that patrol members were deservedly proud to have opened such terrain to the skiing public, and they didn’t like to see it cordoned off for a few ski celebrities, even if they were laying down some impressive lines.
The upside, I suppose, is that I spent more time watching Billy and skiing with him. Billy nailed his first double daffy in competition, gobbled several hot dogs (his favorite food), and we had a great time together.
But the closure of all that amazing sidecountry sticks in my craw. Think of all us drooling, disappointed skiers (paying customers, mind you) if you see Miller’s next movie.
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