The snowfall average for Telluride is respectable – 256 inches a winter – but we’ve found snow conditions in Telluride a bit hit-and-miss. During a La Nina winter, it tends to do badly, and by contrast, in an El Nino winter, it often does really well. According to bestsnow.net, the best time to come to Telluride is in March, when it gets 30% more snow than any other month.
Telluride’s terrain is of the highest quality – for beginners, advanced and expert skiers. There just isn’t very much of it. 1,700 acres is small even by North American standards (Big Sky/Moonlight Basin offers 5,500, and Whistler 8,171 acres, while in France Espace Killy boasts over 24,000 acres).
That doesn’t matter if you’re coming for a short three- or four-night break, or as a beginner, or for a low-intensity trip (mixed with lots of other activities such as hiking, dog-sledding and spa treatments), or on a road trip that takies in at least one other resort. But if you want to ski hard for a whole week, you might get bored. The only way to make it work is to push yourself to a new level. Take a couple of days to get your ski legs, then book two or three days of tuition an try those bumps, or trees, or chutes that have always seemed out reach. Then, suddenly, Telluride will get interesting again.
Stress-free and confidence-boosting for beginners…
The empty slopes, the small classes in ski school, the highly-motivated staff and, above all, the long and super-easy groomers above Mountain Village combine to provide one of the most stress-free and confidence-boosting environments we can think of. There are only two problems – one is the altitude, which may give first-timers in the mountains a bit of a headche for the first 24 hours, and the other is the expense and hassle of getting out here.
But for most people, the extra effort should pay off handsomely – this is a great place to start your skiing career, and you should make quick progress up the learning curve. And if you discover you actually hate skiing or boarding, then – hey – you can just hang out, have a few massages, and soak up the scenery.
It’s worth remembering that some of the novice runs are so flat it’s actually hard to ski them if there’s any snow on the ground. We’ve read reports of people struggling to get down them in powder.
…and great for improvers
Telluride is home to some gorgeous groomers – all beautifully maintained. But there are only enough of them to keep you busy for a long weekend. If you’re an intermediate and you want to ski hard for a week, the only way to avoid boredom is to trade up terrain after a few days: ski the groomers to death on the first couple of days, then book lessons with ski school on days three to six, and learn how to tackle powder, bumps, or the terrain park (or maybe all three) – with a day’s chilling out in the middle. Which, come to think of it, is a pretty good strategy for any ski holiday.
Telluride is also tailor-made for anyone on the cusp of bump-, powder-, tree-, or freestyle-skiing – because there’s enough of all four kinds of terrain to practice on, without any of them being too crowded, or too full-blooded to be intimidating. Within the boundary of the ski area the snow is also avalanche-controlled, which means you don’t have to worry about hiring a guide to show you the safe bits.
The face of Guiseppe’s is one of Telluride’s chief glories
Higher up there are chutes and open bowls and, what’s more, the resort is undergoing a growth spurt, opening up 400 acres of extra advanced and expert terrain – including Revelation Bowl. Resorts such as Chamonix, Monterosa, and Jackson Hole should still come higher on an expert-skier’s hit list but, that said, there are some genuine challenges – the biggest of which is the tree-skiing from Giuseppe’s down into the old town. So take in three days here, with three days at nearby Silverton (a one-lift, ungroomed, powder-pig paradise) and – provided the snow’s good – you’ll have the makings of quite a trip.
The face of Giuseppe’s drops roughly 3,000ft into the old town of Aspen. It’s steep here, and many of the trails are double-black-diamond bump runs – some of the most sustained in North America. It’s not all ungroomed, though: at at the top of the peak is Bushwacker – one of the steepest groomers on the planet.
Three terrain parks for freestylers
Given this is an upmarket resort, miles away from anywhere, Telluride’s terrain parks are very good. There are three on offer, each catering for a different ability level. The beginner’s park is tucked away under chair 11, too – so that novices can practice out of sight, far away from the hoots and laughter of more experienced jibbers.