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Steep New Lines in Telluride

Woohoo! It’s dumping in Colorado, especially in the San Juans. Just saw a report that said Telluride got 16 in the last two days and that it’s currently under a winter storm warning.

That makes it the perfect time to check out all of the new steep lines the resort has opened up in the last year in the “sidecountry” terrain of Revelation Bowl and Black Iron Bowl. It’s all inbounds and controlled for avalanches, so it will only open up if it’s safe. It’s a spectacular stomping ground for advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders, offering up some of the best vertical thrills in the state.

Much has been made about the opening of Revelation Bowl at Telluride this season, and rightfully so. The 400-acre expansion on the back side of the resort’s rugged Gold Hill terrain is the biggest addition to any resort in Colorado this season. It’s a huge, wide-open bowl completely above tree line, and on a powder day it’s out of this world. (Get there early on a powder day, because the locals head there first to track it up.) All four of Revelation’s faces -Bee’s Run, Silvercloud, Majestic and Liberty Bell- are rated as single black diamonds… steep enough to have fun in deep snow but steep enough to earn the double-diamond distinction. The best of the bunch is Bee’s, which offers a couple of nice steep shots off the southeastern border.

While Revelation Bowl is a great addition to the resort, it’s the hike-to terrain Telluride opened last year just below Palmyra Peak that is coming into its own this winter. The jagged 13,320-foot mountain stands like a sentinel over the rest of the resort, calling those to challenge some of the steepest and gnarliest inbounds terrain Colorado.

There are more than a dozen steep lines to choose from between the top of the Prospect Bowl lift, ranging from mild to menacing. Virtually all of the chutes and faces are rated double-black, so it’s no place for the weak or weary. You go big or you don’t go at all. Get your feet wet with an easy 10-minute hike to the Genevieve face in the hart of Black Iron Bowl. On your next lap, pass through the avalanche control gates and endure 10 more minutes of a steeper and slightly more technical hike up to Mountain Quail, a wide, powder gully that spills into Jello’s Bowl. If you’re really brave and bold, hike the steep and exposed ridge to the top of the peak and drop into one of the four crazy-steep chutes (up to 50 degrees!) into the wide open powder pad of Palmyra Basin.

If you plan to hike into the Palymyra Peak terrain, do it early. Shadows overtake many of the slopes after mid-day and the ski patrol closes access all but the first four slopes at 2 p.m.