Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Telluride Telluride Telluride!
I'm guest teaching in Telluride this week! I was a little nervous because I'm wearing my Aspen ski school uniform, and I was worried that people would be mean or standoffish, or confused about why I was there.
I have to say that I'm amazed at how incredibly welcoming people have been! First of all, the town is incredible. It has this amazingly authentic feel, its kept its character, and while its expensive, the people that work in Telluride seem to be able to live in Telluride, which is impressive.
The free gondola (which runs from 7am to midnight every night, and till 2 am when there are special events) connects the historic town to the mid mountain village and even more housing. The village is beautifully designed, full of all the things you want in a resort, mountain shops and restaurants, hotels, an ice skating rink, great coffee, a couple of pubs, and so on. From there, the gondola continues on to another location I haven't even been to yet, and there's another free transportation system called the Chondola, so you can get from the bottom of Chair 10 back up to the village for free as well.
They used 10 million dollars in highway funds to build it, with a total cost of 12 million dollars, and right now, there is a greening initiative. Telluride seems to be on top of the greening thing, as Chair 4 in cooperation with Cliff Bar and Telluride Mtn Resort is now offset by wind power. Impressive and creative.
When I first got here, I was in the coffee shop at mid mountain early in the morning, feeling strange and conspicuous in my Aspen Mountain uniform, and a guy came up to me, and said, "You are Kate, right? They told me you were coming, welcome to Telluride! How is it going? Do you have any questions?" This was CT, an instructor here.
I was shocked, and psyched. How nice to feel welcomed. I was so worried that people would feel like I was taking work from them or stepping on their toes.
The reason that I'm here is because my clients are twin 5 year old boys, one of whom has a varied and severe food alergy. Its a complex allergy and he's had several very close calls. The parents don't feel comfortable putting him in ski school, and do trust me to be very careful about his food. And consequently, since they like to ski in more than one location, I travel with them so that I can teach the kids and the parents can relax and not stress out about the diet.
Of course, I would be allowed to travel as an instructor to several resorts, Aspen has reciprocal teaching privileges with lots of places, but I guess I just feel that its "valid" in this instance? For the other pros, I guess.
In any event, no one seems to care or need a reason for me to be here, the first time I ran into another pro up top, Christy, she asked me if I was going to go into the Enchanted Forest with the kids (this is a HUGE network of tree trails that are just insanely fun). I told her I was, and she gave me the lowdown on the easiest way through and how to find the markers so we didn't end up stuck in the tough stuff in the middle of these trees.
Every time I've run into her since, she's asked me how I'm doing, and introduced me to other pros, and taken time out to see if I'm finding my way around the mountain.
Another pro, Raymo, came up to me in the lift line and introduced himeself, and asked if I am finding my way around okay. He gave me a quick run down on how to get around the huge network of green runs so the kids could feel like they were having an adventure and not just lapping the same run over and over again. We ended up in the Ute terrain park, which is all snow features, and I have to say, I've never ridden anything as fun. Huge banked turns, rollers, kickers, it went on and on and on. I can't wait to go back up there and roll through it with some speed!
The teaching terrain here is unbelievable. Today, we skied a "double green" (Advanced Beginner) that was over four miles long. It started at 11,815 ft, where the kids could see the beautiful hiking terrain and really feel the top of the mountain experience, and wound its way all the way to the very bottom. Talk about mileage. These kids have skied the mountain top to bottom so many times that I've lost count. And because there is so much green terrain, they feel like they are skiing the whole mountain. If Aspen had a gondola from Highlands to Buttermilk to Aspen Mountain, it would be the same. Incredible. In fact, if Aspen had a free gondola that ran all night from Durant St at Aspen Mtn all the way up and over to the Highlands village, I bet the Highlands Village would be a pretty rockin' place!!
Anyhow, Telluride is really wonderful. I went and had a beer tonight with Willie, an instructor whom I met at Powder 8s, and Fred Rumsford, the ski school director, and it was awesome to feel plugged right in to the network, and really welcomed here.
All I have to say is, I'm impressed. I hope that we are able to really nurture this teaching exchange and keep it up, I think all it can do is drive up business for everyone. While I love my clients to ski in Aspen, and I know they will continue to do so because its their favorite place, when they've decided to go somewhere else for one of their three yearly ski vacations, I will certainly send them to Telluride.