rail jam

The rail jam at the Oak Street gondola plaza is scheduled for Nov. 13 this year. (Courtesy photo)

With just over a month until Opening Day, Telski is already busy preparing.

The first order of business is a local pass sale and rail jam event Nov. 13 at the Oak Street gondola plaza. The event typically coincides with the annual KOTO Ski Swap, but the radio station recently decided to cancel the event for the second year in a row, unfortunately, due to lack of volunteers and COVID-19 concerns.

Carson Taylor, Telski’s director of mountain sales, explained the resort felt it was important to still host the event in giving locals a chance to buy their passes and have some fun before the official start of the season Nov. 25 (Donation Day is Nov. 24).

“The ski swap is an event fundamentally woven into the fabric of our mountain town community. It’s unfortunate that the swap isn’t happening in a traditional sense this year, but we felt it obligatory to deliver on the opportunity for local residents to get their season pass, slide around on the snow and start stoking the fire for the approaching winter,” he said.

Telluride Sports and Bootdoctors are partnering with Telski, as the resort’s terrain park team will prepare the rail jam features. The Oak Street office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The rail jam will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., while DJ Wombat performs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oak BBQ will also be open during the event, Taylor explained.

Local pass rates with no blackout dates this year are $455 for a child pass (ages 6-12), $555 for a junior pass (ages 13-18), $1,110 for a young adult pass (ages 19-24), $1,635 for an adult pass (ages 25-64) and $1,300 for a senior pass (ages 65-plus). Rates with blackout dates — which are Dec. 26 through Jan. 2, Jan. 15-17 and Feb. 19-21 — are $345, $425, $845, $1,250 and $1,000, respectively.

“This will be a true jam format. Just come out, fill out your waiver and you can ride the setup that we’ll build there,” Telski Terrain Park Manager Kevin Younger said. “We know that all of the riders are really excited to start hitting features and working on tricks. This is a great way for them to kick off their season and show off what they’ve got in front of a fun local crowd. With the year that everyone has had, I think it’s important for us to put out some good energy into the world. Hosting this event, where there’s no pressure or competition and it’s just about positive camaraderie between the riders and the crowd, is a great way to start the winter season.”

Local businesses like Telluride Sports also look forward to the annual pass sale and rail jam.

“It’s always been really important for Telluride Sports to partner with the resort on the fun, locals-oriented events like rail jams and banked slaloms, and the vibe of excitement that has built over the past few years with the November pass sale has proven to be a great get-together to kick off the preseason,” Telluride Sports Field Marketing Manager Nathan Frerichs said.


Of course, none of this is possible without a lot of the white stuff, which is where Scott Pittenger, Telski’s director of mountain operations, comes in. He explained making snow for the rail jam event is “logistically challenging,” but obviously worth it.

“The good news is this area near the San Miguel River stays pretty cold, and when the weather turns again we will take advantage and make snow. The terrain park crew has already been drawing up plans and prepping features for the event. Our goal is to provide a fun venue and allow skiers and riders of multiple ability levels to participate,” he said.

Even though it’s early, the snowfall last week has only helped Telski’s efforts, he said, as they’ll continue making snow as temperatures allow.

“At this point we have gotten a good jump on snowmaking and natural snowfall. The snowmaking crew capitalized on last week’s cold weather and built a solid foundation of snow on our ski runs that traditionally open first in the lift 1 and 4 areas. We will continue to make snow when the temperatures allow through January. With over 16 inches of snow with about 1.4 inches of SWE (snow water equivalent) from the storms of last week, our upper mountain has gotten a good start,” Pittenger said. “The heavier, early season snow is always a blessing as it really helps build a solid base.”

And like everyone else interviewed for this story, he’s looking forward to seeing people come out for the Nov. 13 event.

“If it is important to locals, it is important to Telski. We’re locals, too. An opportunity to get some new gear and kit a family that out-grows or destroys their equipment each year, and to do so affordably is something of such significance to us that we knew we had to do something to keep the ball rolling,” he said. “I am ecstatic that our partners in the retail world have joined in to make this happen and in a town where procrastination is an art form, a final chance to purchase passes at the lowest rate is worth celebrating. Getting the community together, putting some folks on the snow to knock off the cobwebs and enjoy riding and sliding again with friends and family is something that some of us have been waiting since last April for the opportunity to execute.”