OUT: Revelation Bowl a experience to remember at Telluride

A FOUR-PERSON CHAIR BUILT BY LEITNER-POMA, OF GRAND JUNCTION, whisks skiers and boarders up the 800-foot vertical of Telluride’s Revelation Bowl. The $2.2 million development is the largest ski area expansion this year.

TELLURIDE — There’s a Revelation to experience at Telluride and you can ride a chair lift to enjoy it

Telluride Ski Resort, known for its breath-taking scenery, again set itself apart from the ordinary this winter when it opened Revelation Bowl, an eye-popping expanse of snow-covered expert ski terrain, the only major expansion this year in the U.S.

The $2.2-million expansion is described in press releases as an “Alps-style” powder bowl, but leave the yodel at home; this massive clamshell of snow offers typical Telluride solitude with lift-served convenience.

The development is part of nearly 400 acres of new ski terrain opened in the past year or so.

This impressive flexing of muscular terrain includes Black Iron Bowl, Palmyra Peak and the Gold Hill Chutes off Chair 14, which are reached with a short hike from the top of the Revelation chair (it’s lift 15 for those of you familiar with Telluride’s lift-numbering system).

Telluride CEO Dave Riley is particularly proud of getting Revelation Bowl open in this era of short markets and financial downturns.

“It was part of the ski area master plan approved in 1999 and we wanted to get the bowl open before we had to redo the master plan,” said Riley, a Mesa State graduate (accounting, 1987) whose prior ski-resort experience includes stints at Angel Fire in New Mexico and Oregon’s Mount Hood Meadows before coming to Telluride 18 months ago. “A lot of credit goes to owner Chuck Horning for investing and believing in keeping this a world-class ski resort and community.”

Getting the bowl open in financially trying times makes Telluride one of the nation’s most-talked-about resorts, said communications director Maryhelyn Kirwan.

“No one has an expansion this year and that makes everyone focus on us,” she said. “It’s easy to market something as unique as Revelation Bowl.”

It’s also good for what’s known as “market share.” A new expansion just adds to the annual parade of rave reviews from readers of major ski magazines, a bit of soft-sell advertising that no amount of money can match.

Skiers enter the bowl off chair 14, the Gold Hill lift. Perched on a knife ridge climbing west toward 13,320-foot Palmyra Peak, you can look down almost simultaneously into Prospect Basin and Revelation Bowl, with the feeling the whole world stretches from between your ski tips to above your head.

Off to your right are the snow-covered shoulders of La Junta Peak (13,472 feet) and Wasatch Mountain (13,555 feet), while around the corner at the bottom of Bear Creek, the town of Telluride peeks out some 3,000 below.

Below, Revelation Bowl spills into Bear Creek, and some local lore says Revelation got its name the first time someone skied the bowl and discovered the sharp drop off where cliffs dive into the slash of creek hidden in dark timber.

But don’t even think about skiing past the bottom lift terminal. During the winter, Bear Creek is replete with avalanche danger, making today’s hedge fund investments look safe when it comes to risks versus potential losses.

The new four-pack lift was built by the Grand Junction firm Leitner-Poma of America, the first Poma lift erected at Telluride.

“I really wanted to keep this local and wanted Leitner-Poma to have a shot at the lift,” Riley said. “Working at this elevation is difficult, to put it mildly, but the crew from Poma did a great job for us.”

You don’t need to push off, you simply lift your poles or shift your weight on your board and quickly you’re headed down into the 800-foot vertical embrace of Revelation Bowl.

The ski resort grooms part of the bowl for people more curious than talented about high-level skiing (Telluride might have the most-talented crew of winch-cat drivers anywhere) but leaves a great deal of it untouched.

Riley said that’s part of the package, offering a backcountry experience as close as the nearest ticket window.

“To a great deal, our clientele looks for that type of experience,” he said. “We don’t want to prevent anyone who wants from experiencing the beauty of Revelation Bowl, but it is a high-elevation, back-country experience.”

All part of the Telluride “brand,” to put it in marketing terms. Enjoy some of the most-diverse ski experiences available while knowing two completely different resort towns lie a few minutes away.

Telluride itself is trying hard to retain it’s sense of a funky mountain town with a diverse soul while the Mountain Village base area is a built-to-order European-style community.

And it’s all only a few hours away from Grand Junction, Riley is quick to note.

“When I was attending Mesa State, Telluride was my ski resort of choice,” he said. “A bunch of us would drive up here almost every weekend. It’s a pretty easy drive.”

There also were special early season ticket offers for Grand Junction skiers and Kirwan said her department has put an added emphasis on attracting Grand Valley skiers.

In addition to the high marks from skiers, more recently Telluride has been receiving accolades for its guest services and marketing, two areas that have almost as much impact as fresh powder.

“That’s your peers telling you they respect the way you’re doing business,” Riley said. “It’s some of the best praise we can receive.”


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