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Storms make skiing unearthly good

By Dave Buchanan
I didn't quite make Friday's first ride up the lift at Telluride. The road conditions, even though the snow had stopped several hours earlier, still were pretty bad and that made for slow travel, particularly across Dallas Divide, the high point on the highway between Ridgway and Telluride. It's not really that high (the sign says 8,970 feet) but it gets a lot of wind across the top. This often makes for what Tom Watkinson of Telluride described as a hockey rink. "It can be ice-coated for 300 yards on top and clear on both sides," laughed Watkinson as we sat together in Telluride Ski Resort's corporate offices late Friday. Tom's the communications manager for Telski, as it's known, and he and his boss, communications director MaryHelen Kerwin, are among the great people you find in the ski business. cold mountain.JPG Palmyra Peak looms out of the wind-blown snow at Telluride Ski Resort The skiing was, well, here's what it was like. There was so much snow and wind the resort didn't open the steeps on Prospect Ridge and the much-awaited Revelation Bowl. All day you could hear bombs going off as the ski patrol worked at avalanche control. We heard rumors that some of the hike-to terrain might open but it was just that, rumors. So we had to wait until about noon to ride the Prospect Lift (Lift 12, if you know anything about Telluride's lift-numbering system) and when I got off the lift and headed down the Sandia Face, I had to stop midway down to figure out where I was. skiers on slope.JPG Skiers ponder a snowy slope at Telluride I know it was Telluride, but it was pretty much heaven, too. When your first serious run of the season is through 10 inches of fresh pow, well, you wonder how the rest of the year can ever be better. The West has been pounded by storms this week. OK, everywhere has been pounded by storms this week. But everyone on the lifts talked about "epic" conditions and by the fourth ride up I had heard the same comment so many times I was ready with the conversation opener. "Pretty nice to see the sun again, eh?" I asked, and the boarder riding with me just laughed. "It's been terrible here for a week," he said. "But it's all worth it now." Oh, I almost forgot. Here's what I drank last weekend, trying to decide what to take to the Christmas party. — Montevina Amador County 2006 Barbera, $9. From a winemaking family that specializes in Italian varietals. A medium-bodied Barbera with a nose like dried sweet cherries and more cherries and red fruit on the palate. Very tasty. — Razor's Edge 2006 Shiraz Grenache, $12. I really like Grenache and this interesting blend of the spicy Shiraz and the spice, red-berry fruit of Grenache is very nice. I've seen several excellent Aussie GSM blends (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre) and this fits right into those classy wines. —Kelley Creek Dry Creek Valley 2005 Flow, $28. This is a knockout Bordeaux-style blend of merlot (67 percent), cabernet sauvignon (26%) and cabernet franc (7%). It's big, in mouth feel, flavor and smooth tannins, and it took a while for me to adjust to it, or it to me. Leaving the bottle open and decanting it into a pitcher certainly helped the wine open. It's too big for the Christmas party, so I'll have to save it for another occasion. Like dinner tonight and later while waxing my skis.

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