Dale Strode/Durango Herald
Gourmet calories – with a view.
And high-altitude hiking to burn off those calories – with a view.
Together, they’re part of the unique mountain master plan at Telluride Resort, which is scheduled to close for the season Sunday.
In the meantime, Telluride is offering $49 daily lift tickets for spring skiing and boarding – available in Durango at the Ski Barn on north Main.
Telluride Resort opened several acres of additional advanced terrain in the last five years, including popular hike-to chutes and bowls.
As well, the resort opened Revelation Bowl with its signature steep terrain above timberline served by the Revelation lift (No. 15).
“The (additional terrain) crosses quite a broad demographic,” said Matt Skinner, Telluride’s vice president of communications/marketing.
“It’s not just the 22-year-olds out there hiking. We’ve been pleased to see it’s also the older demographic that is hiking up there,” said Skinner, who worked at Durango Mountain Resort before moving to Telluride six years ago.
“Almost all of the terrain we’ve opened ... people have been looking at for years ... like Revelation Bowl,” Skinner said. “They’ve been hoping and waiting for us to open it.”
The same is true for the new terrain accessible by hiking – Gold Hill and Black Iron Bowl.
“Even advanced intermediates can ... manage a lot of that terrain,” Skinner said. “They can even ... climb the stairs to Chute 9.”
Also known as the “Stairway to Heaven,” the ridgeline Gold Hill Stairs accesses the chutes at the top of Gold Hill.
“Hiking up and skiing Chute 9 is something they work toward. It becomes a badge of honor the way the Plunge used to be,” Skinner said of the iconic front-side run that established the steep foundation to Telluride’s reputation.
With advances in lift design and technology, Skinner said Telluride envisions additional lift access in the heart of Black Iron Bowl – furthering the image of Telluride with a European tint.
And that means food – good food.
“The (small on-mountain) restaurants definitely follow a European pattern,” Skinner said, adding that the owner and CEO of the Telluride ski company traveled to Europe to experience its ski/food culture.
“They really ski to eat,” Skinner said of the culinary foundation to the European skiing scene.
He said Telluride then surveyed its clientele two years ago, receiving encouraging feedback on the concept of smaller, on-mountain restaurants as opposed to larger cafeteria-style ski-area food service.
“We surveyed the clientele ... and decided to add more smaller restaurants on the mountain,” he said. The restaurants offer table service from waiters and waitresses and complete bar service – along with real silverware and glassware.
“We opened Alpino Vino first ... and it’s been very popular,” Skinner said of the European-style chalet with an extensive wine menu along with exotic cheeses and antipasti plates.
This season, Telluride opened the open-air Bon Vivant full-service restaurant on the mountain.
“We’ve had great reviews on Bon Vivant, and you never know with a new restaurant. But we’ve been very pleased by the reception,” Skinner said of the gourmet venue that has a large tent to cover the patrons when needed.
“People are hanging out there, enjoying the views,” Skinner said of Bon Vivant, located at the top of the Polar Queen Express (Lift 5). There is traditional table-side service from a sporty, light lunch menu.
“We’re trying to provide a special (dining) experience – no plastic trays,” Skinner said.
The location offers 360-degree views with a clear look into Black Iron Bowl and the towering Palmyra Peak (13,320 feet).
And views of the hiking skiers and snowboarders making their way up the ridge into the double-black diamonds of the bowl.
“We’ll do more of these,” Skinner said, looking over a lunch crowd at Bon Vivant late last week. “We’ll definitely do some more.”
Spring skiing elsewhere
In addition to Telluride, lift-served skiing is available at Wolf Creek Ski Area through the weekend.
Sunday will be Wolf Creek’s final day of operation. It’s also Wolf Creek’s final Local Appreciation Day of the season. Lift tickets will be $33 for adults and $19 for seniors and children.
Skiing also will continue at Silverton Mountain through April 15, where unguided operations started this week.
Lift tickets are $49 for unguided skiing and riding today through Sunday and from April 12 to 15.