Telluride is already known for its mountains, especially during the winter, but a proposal from organizers of a national endurance challenge would like to bring Mt. Everest to town.
The event, which is called 29029 after the elevation of the world’s highest mountain, would be limited to 250 participants and take place Oct. 1-4, 2020. The 36-hour endurance challenge would happen along Milk Run and Coonskin Trail from 6 a.m. Oct. 2 to 6 p.m. Oct. 3. Fifteen trips would equate 29,029 vertical feet, as participants hike up and take the gondola down in order to hike back up. There are other categories, as the event recognizes the Seven Summits, so participants can stop at Puncak Jaya (16,024 feet), Vinson Massif (16,050), Mount Elbrus (18,510), Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341), Denali (20,308) or Aconcagua (22,841).
Garth Wilson, 29029 director of events, met with the Telluride Parks & Recreation Commission Wednesday afternoon to discuss the possibility of using Town Park for camping. Stephanie Jaquet, town parks & rec director, called it a “unique request.”
“My cofounder Marc Hodulich has been coming to Telluride the last couple summers. Every summer he comes he thinks about how wonderful it would be for our event,” Wilson said. “ … Every time he goes to Town Park and looks at the views of the box canyon he thinks about how amazing it would be as a setting for our event.”
Before visiting this week, 29029 organizers thought the Town Park campground would accommodate the event’s 80 to 90 large canvas tents, but after seeing the dispersed layout, Wilson explained it wouldn’t work.
Fenced-off camping around the park’s three fields — Warner, Bear Creek and Festival — was mapped out as an alternative. From set-up to breakdown, the event would span eight days, starting the last week of September and into the first weekend of October. During that time of year, the Telluride soccer programs are in full swing. Given the camping proximity to Festival Field, which can host three soccer games at a time, 29029 organizers would request all extracurricular activities be suspended on the field that weekend.
“We’re mindful that there would be some park activity,” Wilson said. “If there were whistles blowing and a soccer ball flying over and hitting a tent (from Festival Field), we don’t think that would necessarily be the best experience for our guests.”
Board member JJ Ossola called it a “square peg, round hole” situation, given the potential impact on the soccer schedule.
“I feel like soccer has taken a hit from us for years and years and years. I think to shut down soccer for those days, in my opinion, would be unacceptable,” he said. “ … If you’re going to camp, camp in the campground, but I totally get why that wouldn’t work for them.”
The board members all agreed they’d like to see the event come to Telluride, but using Town Park for camping isn’t an option.
“I think your event is right in line with the Telluride culture,” board member David Doody said. “It fits here. Town Park is a very precious place for locals. You start to cancel soccer games and it’s not a minor issue.”
Wilson explained organizers have talked to Mountain Village and Telski officials about camping arrangements, but they wanted to explore the Town Park possibility first.
“If it doesn’t work for you guys it ultimately doesn’t work for us in the long term,” he said.
The all-inclusive event, which was founded by entrepreneur Jessie Itzler, is $4,195 a ticket or $10,955 for a private two-person tent. Six-month payment plans are available. Other 29029 events take place annually in Vermont, Utah and Idaho. The idea, Wilson said, is to make Telluride a regular spot.
“I really like the idea of bringing that event to Telluride. I like the economics of it, but we have a short recreational season and shutting it down in this way, I think, is an issue,” board member Eliot Brown said. “ … I think you’re going to have a tough time getting it through this board.”
Board members suggested other areas for camping, including the top or bottom of Chair 7, or the bottom of Chair 4 in Mountain Village. Organizers also looked into the Lawson Hill baseball field and the Telluride High/Middle School field, but neither were an optimal option for different reasons.
For more information on 29029, visit 29029everesting.com.