Snow Much Fun

Taos Ski Valley; Telluride; Whistler Blackcomb

Oct 9, 2003
Outside Magazine

The White Room: A powder day at Taos    Photo: Michael Holmquist

Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico
Taos is a four-letter word for steep: More than half of the terrain is rated expert. But skiers (snowboarders are stubbornly prohibited) can be confident of holding an edge—clouds relinquish America’s driest snow here where the Sangre de Cristos rise 5,000 feet from the surrounding desert to 12,000 feet.
BEST RUN: A 1,600-foot drop at 35 degrees, Main Street, off Kachina Peak, is a classic.
OFF-SLOPE ACTION: Wake at 5 a.m. for a sunrise hot-air balloon ride over the 800-foot-deep Rio Grande Gorge. Call Paradise Hot Air Balloon-Eske’s Air Ventures ($205 per person for one and a half hours; 505-751-6098,
LODGING: Thunderbird Lodge & Chalet (doubles, $236, including two meals; 800-776-2279, is 100 yards from the lifts.
Summit Elevation: 12,481 feet
Lift-Served Vertical: 2,612 feet
Skiable Area: 1,294 acres
Average Annual Snowfall: 312 inches

Telluride, Colorado
In 2001, Telluride spent $14 million to put three new high-speed quads into Prospect Bowl, nearly doubling the skiable terrain. Yet town remains unchanged, with its quaint Victorian buildings and cafés, like the Steaming Bean, for sipping lattes.
BEST RUN: The new Gold Hill lift, serving Prospect Bowl, accesses chutes like Claude’s Couloir.
OFF-SLOPE ACTION: Sometimes cantering through powder is better than skiing it. Call Ride with Roudy ($35 for a one-hour ride; 970-728-9611) for horseback rides and crazy tales of old Telluride.
LODGING: The plush New Sheridan Hotel (doubles, $100-$300; 800-200-1891, was built in 1895 as the centerpiece of Main Street and evokes the mining-town glory years.
Summit Elevation: 12,260 feet
Lift-Served Vertical: 3,510 feet
Skiable Area: 1,700 acres
Average Annual Snowfall: 310 inches

Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Whistler and Blackcomb are sister resorts in the Canadian Rockies that share the same base area, so for US$50 you can ski both for the price of one. Not a bad deal, considering that 33 lifts access 7,071 acres of above- and below-timberline skiing.
BEST RUN: The glacier-carved West Cirque—a wide-open bowl—tops 7,168-foot Whistler Mountain.
OFF-SLOPE ACTION: Animal-assisted speed is big. For horse-drawn sleigh rides, try Blackcomb Sleigh Rides (call 604-932-7631 for prices); for dogsledding, Cougar Mountain ($140; 604-932-4086).
LODGING: Enjoy the deluxe spa at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler (doubles, $400; 800-441-1414,
Summit Elevation: 7,494 feet
Lift-Served Vertical: 5,280 feet
Skiable Area: 7,071 acres
Average Annual Snowfall: 360 inches

Filed To: Telluride, Snow Sports