Ski blog: Telluride stopover to Silverton, p.2 |

Ski blog: Telluride stopover to Silverton, p.2

Steve LarsonVail CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado After a few “training days” in Beaver Creek, Steve and his buddies hit the road to Silverton.We pick up the action just before they leave for the steep and deep powder of southern Colorado.Just before we left, my good friend Shane Macomber called to ask if I could bring his crampons down to Ouray for him since he was covering the International Ice Climbing Championships. Ouray is at the base of Red Mountain pass so I told him it wouldnt be a problem. Shane had driven down earlier that morning and had said that it took six and a half hours to reach Ouray, two hours longer than expected. Not relaying this information to my friends, we set off in search of the most snow I had ever imagined. I-70 to Grand Junction the roads were clear for the most part, a little bit wet, but nothing to slow us down. The snow started to pick up again around Delta and continued on down into Ouray. Several calls to CDOT along the way proved no avail to the pass opening. We checked it one more time and drove up to the gate of Red Mountain Pass on the South side of Ouray and saw the sign which read Red Mountain Pass: CLOSED. Another group of die hard skiers were waiting for the opening as well. They had also heard of a late afternoon opening and were planning to wait a bit longer. They mentioned the alternate route as well which was through Telluride, west over Lizard Head Pass, then back east through Durango, over Coal Bank Pass and then finally Molas Pass and into Silverton. Basically a 6 hour detour in the dark, probably 4.5 in the day time. At this point we decided to meet up with Shane and get some dinner in town. We dropped off Shane’s Crampons and then walked into town to find some grub. The first place we saw had a sign out front that said Taco Wednesday so we stopped in and had dinner debating over our options. One: we could suck it up and drive and additional 4.5-6 hours on top of the 4 hours we had already driven and arrive in Silverton by 10 or 12:00 that night. Two: Stay in Ouray and hope the pass would open in the morning and drive to Silverton then. or Three: Check on the pass in the morning. If it wasnt open, hit up Telluride and go to Silverton either over Red Mountain Pass or the long way around through Durango. As tired as we were, we opted for option three. At this point Dave asked our waitress if she knew of anyway that we could get discount lift tickets for Telluride. It just so turned out that if you stay at the Comfort Inn in Ouray, you could get 40% off lift tickets at Telluride plus a day at the Hot Springs in Ouray. BONUS! Now we have a plan. We spent the rest of the night enjoying libations of the best tasting Budweiser we had ever had drinking from Coors Light mugs and spoke eagerly of what the rest of our journey would bring. JANUARY 10: We woke up at 7:30am sharp. I gave a ring to the Telluride Snow Report and they reported 15 of the fresh stuff. I exclaimed at my passed out friends. ITS TIME TO GO! We gathered our things, said goodbye to Shane and started on our way to the next destination: Telluride. We arrived at the mountain at about 9:30 and finally made it to the top by about 10:30. Getting to the upper bowls takes some time with no high speed chairlifts leading from where we started, at chair 7. From 7 you have to take what I might call the slowest catwalk on earth over to chair 9 which would bring us up to the highest peaks of Telluride. Upon getting off of the lift, we were confronted with some of the most beautiful jagged peaks of the San Juan Mountain Range, blue skies all around and plenty of fresh powder turns to be had by all! TIME TO DROP IN! We all charged at the trees near Allais Alley, a double black diamond run and there was no lack of hoots and hollers from all three of us as we blazed fresh trails through waist deep, feather light powder. We met up at Apex Lift number six and continued on our tour of the upper regions of Telluride Mountain. Not knowing the ins and outs of this terrain, we were in a way, riding blind. Our second run resulted in all three of us ending up on some sketchy terrain with just dustings of snow on top of jagged rocks on very steep grades in the area called Dynamo which was another double black. We all navigated our way out of the chaotic terrain but we each left behind chunks of our snowboard bases. After one easy cruiser down Stella, we headed up to the steepest the mountain had to offer. A line called Genevieve. This line is in a hike-to area just above Lift 12. The hike was only about five minutes, but well worth the walk. After arriving at the top of this line, looking down caused a bit of a dizzying affect. Possibly the steepest run I have ever attempted. Looking at Dave and my buddy Steve debating their line, I promptly strapped in and dropped in to its chunky, powdery steepness. The first few turns were like chunky butter no problem, then suddenly I drove my tip in just a little too far and somehow landed on my back sliding downhill head first. I laughed as I struggled to make sure there were no trees in my path. After about a hundred feet of sliding, I stopped and continued down the run. The runout from these steeps was fast and furious and lead you up to the top of a small hill where other riders were celebrating their “stokedness” from the lines they had just ridden. From here we headed back to the car for PBRs and PB & Js to discuss the game plan for getting to our next destination: Silverton Mountain. After we dug the car out of the parking lot, we called CDOT and found to no surprise that Red Mountain Pass was still CLOSED. We had heard from some locals in Ouray that Red Mountain Pass had some 117 avalanche slide points and that it can take weeks to open the pass after a huge storm. Knowing this, we headed toward Lizard Head Pass. Upon arriving there we put the chains on the Subaru and proceeded over the icy pass. From there we made our way west toward Utah away from our final destination, the San Juan Mountains. To see more of Steve’s photos of the Silverton road trip, go to:

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