2010 Powder Ski Testing Continues in Telluride, CO

2010 Powder Ski Testing Continues in Telluride, CO

After our epic day at Silverton Mountain, we re-packed the Sequoia and made the one-hour drive to Telluride. We played tourist on the way there, snapping photos and videos of us driving past Ralph Lauren’s ranch and discussing the celebrities who call Telluride home, like Oprah and Tom Cruise.

T-Ride is like Aspen on steroids. It’s nestled in a box canyon, a glacier-formed flat-bed in the valley that appears man-made. It’s too perfect a natural spot for a town to form. Founded in 1878 by silver miners, Telluride is the true Wild West, made notorious in the mining hey-day with murders, bank robberies and a booming red light district. Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank here; a building that still stands, but as a classy hotel.

In the 70s, the town was rife with hippies who laid claim to Telluride as their own, battling the resort to refrain from selling out and becoming a hot-bed for rich skiers. Although their battle was lost — as Telluride is now one of the more expensive destinations around — the vibe they created stays strong today. There is a symbiotic relationship between the hardcore, oldschool locals and the resort. Legends Scott Kennett and Captain Jack remain fixtures in the community today, even as restaurant prices skyrocket and new high-speed quads are erected.

There’s a very simple yet powerful reason for this: Telluride’s terrain skis more like Chamonix or Las Lenas than Colorado. Spires line the ridges giving the mountain a unique skyline, and instead of the wide-open bowls of most Colorado resorts, Telluride offers up some of the gnarliest chutes and couloirs in America.

So with our 17 pairs of fresh pow skis, we set out for two days of testing under blaring sunshine and warm temps. Scott Kennett and Herb Manning played as our main guides and testers, touring us around the mountain showing us every nook and cranny they have skied over their decades spent at the mountain. “That’s the hairy banana,” said Kennett about a massive couloir with a mandatory air into a sharp dog-leg. “I skied that three days ago.” At 51, Kennett continues his legacy. You may remember him as the guy in Stump’s movies (like Blizzard of Aahhh’s) slaying powder-filled mogul fields with his husky running at his heels. This time, it was the Freeskier crew and our testers who were trying to keep up.

We spent all of our time skiing mostly untracked chutes in the Bear Creek Canyon. It was great terrain to test the skis in, as in one hour-long run, we cranked through fluffy pow, not-so-fluffy pow, crud, sun-baked crap and a several-mile-long chinese downhill-style ski out through the woods. With so much variable in just one lap, our testers were able to decipher the pretty good from the really good. Of course, you’ll have to wait until we release the 2010 Buyer’s Guide to see the results, but let’s just say there’s some amazing product coming down the pipe, so start saving your cash immediately.

Huge thanks to Mary-Helen and Tom at Telluride for hooking us up with a place to stay at the Camel’s Gardens. The hotel rests about 12 feet from the 8 lift (the starting point for ascending to the summit) and is chill as hell. Big outdoor hottub, free apres scene with wine and cheese, and a breakfast spot in the building to coffee yourself out of your hangover.

The Telluride stop concludes our all-mountain, big-mountain and powder ski test for this year. Next, we’re off to Keystone, CO, to put the park skis through the gauntlet.

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