Colorado The Other Colorado

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by bamaman, Jan 17, 2019.

  1. UGASkiDawg

    UGASkiDawg AKA David Pugski Ski Tester

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    A lift line at Powderhorn.... inconceivable!
     
  2. Thread Starter
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    bamaman

    bamaman Getting on the lift Skier

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    I remember you said that when I asked the question in my original post. But there was ogwink. And people weren't used to it you could tell.
     
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    bamaman

    bamaman Getting on the lift Skier

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    Day 7 - (Jan 20) - Left Powderhorn in the AM and headed south on Route 65 across Grand Mesa Mountain. A flat top mountain with 4' of snow on top with plenty of snowmobiling and CC skiing in winter. Just an amazingly beautiful area. Meadows of untouched snow. Anyway, headed down the backside of mountain and had fabulous views (of the San Juans I believe). Stopped for breakfast at Creekside Cafe in Cedaredge. Had an excellent omelette. There were three other couples/groups in the restaurant and I talked to each one of them and told them about my trip, and "Thank You" for allowing me to enjoy their state. ogsmile. Had great discussions with all of them and they told me a little about their lives and the area (they were locals of course). Then I ended up paying for everyone's breakfast. I am one of the first one's to bitch and complain when something doesn't go my way. When in reality, I'm very blessed to have a wonderful wife and family, flexibility to travel, and financially able to afford it (though I'm not rich). So, when I get my attitude readjusted by life events (like this trip), I realize how fortunate I am and want to "pay forward" to others when I can.

    Continued the road trip and arrived at my next lodging destination in Ouray (Twin Peaks Lodge). Beautiful little historic town in a bowl surrounded by steep mountains. Got a very big queen suite for $100 night. Much cheaper than anything I could find in Telluride. Relaxed in the hot spring at the motel and then watched the moon rise above the mountain and also saw the eclipse. No skiing, but it was one of the better days of my trip.

    Pictures below:


    Top of Grand Mesa Mountain
    Top of Grand Mesa.JPG


    Driving down backside of Grand Mesa. Looking towards San Juans?

    Driving down backside of GM.JPG

    Creek side Cafe in Cedaredge, CO
    Creek Side Cafe.JPG

    Me with waitresses Haley and Geneveve (left to right).
    Waitress.JPG

    Downtown Ouray
    Downtown Ouray.JPG

    Moonrise over Ouray

    moonrise.JPG
     

    Attached Files:

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  4. Coach13

    Coach13 Out on the slopes Skier

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    Yep. I crossed that on a Ski Cooper trip as well.
     
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    bamaman

    bamaman Getting on the lift Skier

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    Day 8 (Jan 21) - Headed out to do Telluride. Didn't realize it was 45 miles from Ouray. For some reason, I thought it was 10. Anyway, as I drew within 10 miles of Telluride, the snow started coming down. Ended up parking in the free garage at Market Plaza and catching the gondola over to Mountain Village. I bought my lift ticket at 11:00 and the lady behind the counter said there were only 2700 people on the hill right now. :golfclap:. Rode up Village Express Lift (4) and did some runs. Then worked my way over to Polar Queen Express (5) and did some bump runs there. Noticed that they had all the lifts to the upper mountain closed (6 and 14). By this time, the snow was coming down heavy and the wind had picked up. I struggled against the wind on some cat walks to get over to Prospect Express Lift (12) to do some intermediate runs in Prospect Bowl. Once off the top of the lift, the wind was fierce and was near white-out conditions. I don't like having very limited visibility in an area I've never been to. So, I followed the only people I saw down a green trail and ended up back at The Meadows base where I decided to have some lunch at Big Billies. Rest of the day I stuck to the runs served by Village Express Lift as the visibility was still low because of the snow and wind. Probably not a good idea to pick a storm day to ski Telluride for the first time, but I thought the snow would hold off till later in the day.

    Pics:

    Riding up Prospect Express
    Lift Ride - Telluride.JPG


    Deer on the side of the road on the way back to Ouray.
    deer.JPG

    Visibility driving back from Telluride to Ouray was terrible
    Telluride to Ouray.JPG

    Bird's eye view of town of Ouray
    Birds Eye - Ouray.JPG
     
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  6. Lorenzzo

    Lorenzzo Right On The Line Skier

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    Why did your crown take 2-1/2 hours?
     
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    bamaman

    bamaman Getting on the lift Skier

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    Day 9 (Jan 22) - Went to bed the night before thinking the snow was over. Woke up to 6" of fresh light powder on the truck and still snowing heavily. I had already booked at place at Purgatory for the night and I had to do a stupid conference call with some people at 12:00 noon. So, I decided to clean off the truck and leave Ouray going down 550 toward Purgatory. The road was open over Red Mountain Pass, but it was snow/ice covered. That doesn't bother me driving, but this sure did below:

    Death Road.JPG

    No shoulder to your right and it drops straight off hundreds of feet. There are a couple places like this.

    Route 550.JPG

    Fortunately, traffic was light so I drove on the left hand side of the road up close to the rocks. I also am glad I brought extra underwear. They also have this neat Avalanche Lean To across the road. First time I've ever seen one of those.

    Lean To.JPG


    Continued over Red Mountain Pass and as I neared the bottom, the snow let up and the sun started coming out. After getting by the "drop offs", traveling down Route 550 was just amazing. I was awestruck. Of all my visits in CO to date, this had to be the best scenery and views I've encountered.


    Drive2.JPG

    Drive3.JPG

    Finally, view out my condo window at Purgatory. Looking forward to ski days coming up.

    Purgatory.JPG
     
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  8. Snowfan

    Snowfan Out on the slopes Skier

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  9. 4aprice

    4aprice Getting on the lift Skier

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    Thank you for the pictures bamaman. Just awesome and on the bucket list.
     
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    bamaman

    bamaman Getting on the lift Skier

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    Because they do it all at once. Drill out the cavity and the tooth, make the crown, then put it in. Get it all done at once instead of having to go back like used to.
     
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  11. TexasStout

    TexasStout THE Texan is here! Skier

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    Stunned you drove Million Dollar Highway in the winter while it was snowing! :eek: That's crazy or bordering on having a death wish!

    My wife didn't like us going on it on a clear day in the summer
     
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  12. Jim Kenney

    Jim Kenney Travel Correspondent Industry Insider Team Gathermeister

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    He was very well prepared:roflmao:: "I also am glad I brought extra underwear."
     
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    bamaman

    bamaman Getting on the lift Skier

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    Days 10-12 (Jan 23-25) - Three bluebird days in Purgatory at Durango Mountain. Got lift tickets on Liftopia for $59. New snow the previous two days had soft conditions. Honestly, I don't know how I totally feel about Purgatory. I had plenty of fun. But there are some things I like and some I don't. Now remember, this is coming from someone at an Intermediate level who didn't get to see all of the terrain.

    Pros

    No crowds.
    Fantastic Views
    Plenty of mountain and vertical;
    Varied rolling terrain with some steeps (some of the steepest groomed black runs I've ever seen, although for short distances).
    Plenty of groomed trails
    Bumps for all levels
    Cheap lodging right at base with nice hot tubs to relax.

    Cons

    Flat areas at the top of lift 1 to get going down parts of the frontside. Required extra pushing.
    Very flat area to get to lift 3 at the bottom. You have to straight line down the last few trails that merge and even then you can't make it all the way without extra pushing;
    Have to work your way over to backside on cat trails.
    Plenty of groomed trails (in both Pros and Cons)

    Summary

    Except for some runs under the Legends Express lift, there are not a lot of long vertical continuous runs with consistent fall lines. The mountain has lots of benches meaning you need to slow down quite a bit unless you want to get serious air off the benches. In all honesty, though I like to do groomers, this mountain to me would be more fun less groomed as you can do bumps from one bench to the next and find plenty of areas to learn or to be challenged. I actually spent a lot of time exploring and getting off the groomed trails. It was actually a good mountain for me to challenge myself more on.ogwink

    View from Powderhouse Restaurant near top of lift 2.

    Powderhouse.JPG

    Some other shots:

    View1.JPG

    View2.JPG

    View3.JPG
     
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  14. Mattadvproject

    Mattadvproject Love that powder! Pugski Sponsor

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    You missed out on Hesperus on the drive from Telluride to Durango!
     
  15. New2

    New2 Getting off the lift Skier

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    Seems like a great trip so far! It's a shame you didn't get to see the scenery at Telluride, but hey, maybe a reason to go back! And next time PugSki collectively advises against driving Red Mountain Pass, we can link over to your thread & pics :ogcool:
     
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    bamaman

    bamaman Getting on the lift Skier

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    Isn't Hesperus out on 550 outside of Durango? I'm pretty sure I passed it on a drive, but I didn't see any lifts spinning and nobody there.
     
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  17. John Webb

    John Webb mdskier Skier

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    Has Red River reopened ? ?
    They were closed for a number of years recently.
    edit: oops I may be wrong. They're fully open as are most NM ski areas.

    It was an old retro place like Mad River Glen or Blue Knob PA
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
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  18. John Webb

    John Webb mdskier Skier

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    I met a woman who drove a snowplow for CDOT. She was plowing Red Mt pass when an avalanche swept the plow
    into the abyss. They came and got her. Broke 25 bones and it took multiple surgeries over 2 years to put her back together.
    Seems somewhat OK now but walks with a cane.
     
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  19. Mattadvproject

    Mattadvproject Love that powder! Pugski Sponsor

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    That's the one!
     
  20. Jerez

    Jerez Out on the slopes Skier

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    Red Mountain Pass is famous for eating cars and snowplows. You are lucky you survived that!

    From the Durango Herald:
    USA Today pronounced the Million Dollar Highway from Durango to Ouray one of the “World’s 12 Most Dangerous Roads,” a distinction Red Mountain Pass shares with the “Highway of Death” in Iraq and the “Death Road” in Bolivia....

    Red Mountain Pass, per mile, has the highest avalanche hazard on the North American Continent. The narrow two-lane road winds through the mountains like a drunk crazily stumbling, and there’s no guardrail to protect cars attempting hairpin turns from hurtling into the jagged ravines that lie, stunning and ominous, hundreds of feet below.

    Here's a litany of woe from the same article:
    In 1985, an avalanche swept two people down a 400-foot embankment. “Miraculously,” the couple survived, though the husband told the Herald that their ensuing hospitalization somewhat marred their vacation.

    In 1999, an avalanche buried four people – three highway workers and one motorist – alive beneath 40 feet of snow; they survived through the night, and rescuers retrieved them the next day.

    In 1993, Fort Lewis College’s assistant basketball coach George LeSaltz skid off Red Mountain Pass. His Chevrolet pickup full of FLC players tumbled 100 feet down the cliff at a 45-degree angle until a freak snowbank “miraculously” interrupted its fall – sparing the players certain death and the Raiders (the mascot at the time) another setback in what was an already “difficult” season, according to the Herald.

    In 2005, a minivan carrying six people careened over Red Mountain Pass, plummeting hundreds of feet down a 60-degree slope. Somehow, everyone survived, and “the miracle” was featured on NBC’s “Today” show. (CDOT’s Shanks said the family later starred in a seat-belt commercial.)

    In 2011, Eric Petranek, a Bayfield resident, drove off Red Mountain Pass, escaping his 330-foot plunge and flaming car with only second-degree burns.

    But on Red Mountain Pass, miracles aren’t for everyone.

    In 1978, Lloyd Barry, a snowplow driver and father of three, retired, saying, “This is my fifth winter. Five winters on Red Mountain Pass are all I’m willing to risk. The way I figure it, after five, the odds of surviving get too short.”

    Earlier that year, a snowslide killed Barry’s colleague, Terry Kishbaugh, 28, a husband and father of three.

    “It took three months to recover his body. His truck was smashed like a toy,” Barry told the Herald.

    Indeed, for decades, the heroism demonstrated by snowplow drivers and highway workers – Red Mountain Pass’ primary casualties – has awed and confused locals. In 1978, Caroni Adams McCallum praised the bravery of the men who maintain Red Mountain Pass in a letter to the Herald: “I am always surprised that the state highway department can even find people to apply for the job of clearing Red Mountain Pass. They take huge personal risk just so we can pass safely.”
     
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