The ski runs of Telluride follow a fairly self-explanatory naming convention. Mine Shaft is a double black diamond so steep it feels like you’ve just fallen down one. Enchanted Forest is a woozy blue that weaves its way between glades of towering evergreen trees. Boomerang loops gently back to where you started at Mountain Village. And See Forever? Well, take a guess.

I’m 3735m high in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, at the top of the Gold Hill Express chairlift, and I can see 150km to the La Sal Mountains in Utah. To my left I see skiers peeling off and plunging into Revelation Bowl, which bottoms out above the craggy cliffs of Bear Creek Canyon. Higher up the ridge the most daring are making forays into the formidable Gold Hill Chutes. And in the distance tiny figures are taking in some of the best hike-to terrain in North America, trudging to the top of Black Iron Bowl for a 300 vertical metre drop into pitches, chutes and couloirs.

The terrain sounds – and looks – extreme, and much of it is, accounting for Telluride’s allure for expert skiers. But what I didn’t realise until I got here is that more than half the terrain is beginner or intermediate, and that every chairlift has either green or blue runs leading off it, so you’ll never get stuck at the top of the mountain. It’s literally the height of inclusivity, in a place that has something (actually, a lot) for everyone.

Telluride Ski Resort celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, but the area has a human history stretching back 10,000 years. The original inhabitants, the Nuchu people, knew the San Juan Mountains as the “Shining Mountains.” By the 1870s those mountains were aglow with silver and gold, as a mining boom took hold. When the silver price crashed in 1893 the town entered a prolonged fizzling out period, and by the middle of last century had fewer than 500 residents. Its revival began in the late 1960s, when Los Angeles businessman Joe Zoline – buoyed by the success of Aspen – bought land and started cutting ski trails, opening the resort in December 1972…

Read the full story here