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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Robert Glenn Ketchum: My Fav Places - Mountain Lodge Telluride

Winter glow at the Mountain Lodge Telluride.  Photograph 2011 © Neil Hastings.

Beginning in the early 1960's, my family spent late fall and most of winter in a log "cabin" on the Wood River in Ketchum, Idaho because it was duck season and my Dad loved to hunt and fish. On my school break at Christmas, I would join them and so I learned to ski at nearby Sun Valley. After college (1970), I moved to Sun Valley for several years and the mountain environment began to change the subject of my photography from rock-and-roll to rocks and trees - particularly rocks, trees and snow. One of my first published portfolios consisted of 24 small, elegant black & white prints entitled, 'Winters: 1970-1980'.

Ski photography was part of the many things I shot to pay the bills, and it was in the Pioneer Bar in Ketchum that I met David Moe, who was trying to found a new ski magazine he called Powder. David was looking for potential contributors with "different" ideas, and by the early '70's I had started "pin" skiing in the backcountry with my mountaineering friends in the Decker Flats Climbing and Frisbee Club and photographing them while we explored untracked faces, old mining ghost towns and attempted a few first winter ascents on nearby summits in the Sawtooth and Pioneer Mountains. I convinced David that "heel free" skiing in the backcountry was part of the future of skiing and he conceded a quarterly section in the magazine for me to report from the field.

For most of the '70's that job at Powder was my license to ski not only in obvious places like the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, Jackson Hole, Taos and Sun Valley, but less traditional locations like Craters of the Moon National Monument, the Grand Tetons and the Wind River Mountains. I still indulge the snow season every year, crossing over to snowboarding for my 50th birthday, and riding annually with my kids (when they can keep up).

My perspective on skiing and resorts is pretty interesting as I have seen and skied most of the ones in the West. So what do I like?
Storm Clearing on Wilson Peak.  Telluride, CO.  Photograph 2011 © Neil Hastings.

Good snow is always good - anywhere - but it is other aspects of the destination that I think cause me to choose Telluride as my favorite spot. Mammoth is closest to my home, but way too close to Los Angeles, so it is always crowded and overrun by surprisingly rude adults made short tempered by long lift lines. Similarly, the I-70 corridor in Colorado has incredible resorts all along it, Vail, Beaver Creek, Copper Mtn., Steamboat, Aspen, but they all feed into that same stretch of freeway, which on the wrong day (especially Sunday when everyone heads home) is a worse traffic jam then than any freeway in LA. Sun Valley, Jackson, Whistler and The Wasatch (Park City, Deer Valley, Sundance, Snowbird, Alta, etc.) all have great snow and mountains, but lots of people as well because they are either hip, close or both. Telluride is just far enough off the beaten path to have the right mix of skiing and pristine, uncrowded fun.  And then there is Telluride's remarkable setting.

Mountain Lodge Telluride, Winter.  Photograph 2011 © Neil Hastings.

Telluride is a great ski, the historic town may be one of the most beautiful environments of any resort, and the low profile and fun food/bar excursions are as good as any other resort destination in the West. I especially like to stay at Mountain Lodge Telluride. The Mountain Lodge is not located in the historic downtown section, but rather sits mid-mountain in the mountain village complex. It is lift -accessible to everything. You can ski in/ski out, AND it sits just outside of the main village complex, which I like because it is quieter at night without the revelers of mountain village shouting to each other beneath your window.

Mountain Lodge Telluride luxury cabin.  Photograph 2011 © Neil Hastings

Mountain Lodge Telluride has suites and cabins, which suits my family time, and they are pet friendly as well, which always rates highly with Lili the Black Lab and her friends. MLT has a its own, very nice restaurant/bar, The View, with an unparalleled view window, and most importantly to me, that view is shared by the large hot tubs and pool just outside the restaurant. There are few other locations I have ever enjoyed with such a surrounding panorama of peaks all viewable from the luxury of warm water and good bar service.


Telluride and The Mountain Lodge are MUCH more than just a winter resort; in fact they are equally enjoyable in other seasons. Telluride is famous for its festivals that run almost continuously throughout the summer and fall and include Mountainfilm, and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and many more. These are all fun events, set against a most amazing backdrop of mountains. The lifts service bike riding trails for all skill levels, horses can be found nearby, jeep adventures offer picnics in high basins, and when the fall arrives, it is OFF THE CHART, especially from the swimming pool complex of Mountain Lodge Telluride!

McClure Pass, CO.  Photograph 2011 © Neil Hastings.

If it is important for you to "go big" when you party and socialize, then Telluride may not be your ticket and the quietude of The Mountain Lodge is definitely not your style. But if you want great private and / or family time, excellent skiing, great instructors and a town-vibe equal to no other, this is the place. Coming from mountain village over the top and descending into historic Telluride on the lift may be the best lift ride / views in North America. It takes my breath away every time and keeps me coming back, as does the food.

Lizard Head Pass, Telluride, CO.  Photograph 2011 © Neil Hastings.

There is much to explore and try, and noticeably without "the crowd" I find at other resorts. Try  Telluride and in particular the Mountain Lodge Telluride if you would really like to "get away". Personally if I want to hang out to be hip and seen, I LIVE in LA. When I travel to play in the mountains, I am looking for something else and Telluride and The Mountain Lodge delivers in a unique way. Check it out!

#rgk
#lbp