Telluride Mountain Club’s 2019 Annual Report
The Telluride Mountain Club (TMtC) started off as a resource for avalanche education in the Telluride region in 1986 and has grown to encompass all forms of outdoor recreation, including hiking, trail running, mountain biking, (ice) climbing, via ferrata users, and backcountry skiers and snowboarders. Over the last several years, TMtC has evolved, taking on more initiatives and projects to better serve the outdoor and recreation communities of Telluride.
2019 was full of strides for TMtC. The Board of Directors, staff and membership focused efforts on trail planning, construction, maintenance and conservation, via ferrata stewardship, climbing bolt and anchor replacements, collaborating on public education events, hosting community gatherings, and managing the winter indoor climbing wall program.
Here is a brief recap of TMtC’s 2019 projects while a complete overview of each is listed below.
- New trails planning page (https://telluridemountainclub.org/trails-planning/) to keep the community updated on trail projects.
- Public release of the Trails Sustainability Plan
- Prioritization of two new trails: Mill Creek Bypass Trail (Mill Creek Bypass Trail Map) & Eider to Mill Creek Connector (Eider to Mill Creek Connector Map)
- Planning and construction of the new east end Bridal Veil Creek Trail
- Build Bridal Veil Bridge fundraising campaign
- Completion of the new Magic Meadows Trail
- Creation and launch of Opt in for Trails to help with trail costs
- Public trail work / trail maintenance days
- Assistance with San Miguel County’s GOCO grant for a Down Valley Connector Trail
- Trail signage
- Trail coordination with private landowners
- Creation of the Via Ferrata Sustainability Fund
- Stewardship to keep the via ferrata free and open to the public
- Successful Winter Fundraising Film Night & Summer Membership Drive
- Introduction of Summer Sessions
- Group hikes
- Hardware upgrades on local climbing routes
- Operation of the Adult Indoor Climbing Gym
Peter Inglis Avalanche Education Fund
- Free local avalanche education events
- $3,000 is scholarship assistance awarded
If you are interested in learning more about TMtC success in 2019, keep reading below!
In 2019, TMtC moved forward with many trail projects and initiatives. Telluride Trail Planning efforts have been made public via the TMtC website at telluridemountainclub.org/trails-planning/ to better inform the community on upcoming projects and progress.
In July, TMtC published its Trails Sustainability Plan (TSP), a guiding document for the next ten years for maintaining and developing nonmotorized trails in the Telluride region. The TSP is an established vision to enhance the quality of life and provide additional benefits to the community for outdoor recreation opportunities. The expectation is that the conceptual trail plans in the TSP will help disperse use, strategize for future growth in the Telluride region, enhance connectivity between existing trails, provide a more sustainable and environmentally conscious trail system that is easy to access and navigate, and increase the number of commuter options.
In line with the TSP, TMtC met with the USFS Norwood District to discuss plans for the new conceptual trails. The local Forest Service team prioritized two trails for 2019, the Mill Creek Bypass Trail (Mill Creek Bypass Trail Map) and Eider to Mill Creek/Deep Creek Connector Trail (Eider to Mill Creek Connector Map). In the fall of 2019, TMtC hired professional trail builders to ground truth and flag these trail alignments. NEPA studies on these segments is expected to happen winter/spring 2020 so the trails can be constructed during the summer or fall of 2020 (if NEPA passes).
TMtC was instrumental in negotiating a recreational trail easement agreement with Idarado Mining Company over the past year to allow for the new Bridal Veil Creek Trail on the east-end of the box canyon. TMtC then worked with San Miguel County to be the holders of this trail easement. The Town of Telluride joined the effort and agreed to fund the initial round of trail building, which was completed by the Southwest Conservation Corps in the Fall of 2019. The new Bridal Veil Creek Trail will greatly benefit the community of Telluride and provide a much safer alternative to walking up the road. The new trail starts near the Idarado Mine settling ponds and meanders to the base of Bridal Veil Falls. The new section of Bridal Veil Creek Trail is approximately .85 miles in length and the total trail to the base of the falls is 1.2 miles.
TMtC embarked on a fundraising campaign for a bridge on the Bridal Veil Creek Trail in December of 2019 and was successful in securing $30,000, thanks to generous donations from the community. Previous TMtC trail fundraising efforts allowed for work on the bridge engineering this past November. TMtC will continue the engineering process this winter while awaiting news on being awarded a Colorado’s Multimodal Options Fund (MMOF) grant. If awarded this grant, San Miguel County matching funds, along with the $30,000 raised through this fundraising campaign, should be all the finances needed to build the bridge and get it in place late fall of 2020.
During the fall of 2019, the new Magic Meadows Trail, formally Alta Lakes Trail, completed Phase 2 construction. This project consisted of a necessary reroute of an illegally built trail that meandered through private land. This new trail project is now complete.
In an effort to keep momentum with trails planning, new trail construction and ongoing maintenance needs, TMtC launched Opt in for Trails, a fundraising campaign to directly support funding for trail maintenance and new trail projects in the Telluride region. It costs upwards of $35,000 to construct one mile of new trail in the Telluride region. On top of that, it costs $1,000 to maintain one mile of trail annually. With no funding plan in place, TMtC has created Opt in for Trails as a fundraising mechanism to help enhance Telluride’s public lands and outdoor recreation resources. Participating businesses become the vehicle for customers to donate at checkout or via an option that works best for the business. TMtC hopes to make more progress on this in 2020.
In addition to trail planning and initial implementation efforts, TMtC also hosted three public trail work days to complete necessary maintenance on the current trail system:
- 8/8/19: Trail Work, Sneffels Highline Drainage Work
- 8/15/19: Trail Work, Jud Wiebe Fjord Crossing
- 8/23/19: Trail Work, Magic Meadows Corridor Clearing
Outside of these efforts, TMtC helped San Miguel County research and write a grant proposal for a Down Valley Connector Trail. While the proposal received positive feedback on the narrative section and statement of need, San Miguel County was not successful in receiving funds for this project in 2019. Additionally, TMtC worked with private landowners to put up signage on trails that cross their private land and keep the trails open to the public.
In 2019, TMtC helped coordinate the establishment of Telluride’s Via Ferrata Sustainability Fund (VFSF) to help protect Telluride’s unique via ferrata well into the future and preserve its free access to the public.
As friends of the via ferrata, five local guide companies – Mountain Trip, San Juan Outdoor Adventure, San Juan Mountain Guides, Telluride Mountain Guides and Peak Mountain Guides – have accepted a role in route stewardship and have generously agreed to help cover costs associated with engineering, analysis, reporting and more. In an effort to help keep the via ferrata open for the long-term future, the partner guide services above have added a $5 per guest donation allowance that will go directly to the Via Ferrata Sustainability Fund. There were 3,215 individuals who signed into the Telluride Via Ferrata Trail Head Register in 2019 (JAN-OCT), but upwards of 6,000 who are assumed to have used the route.
In 2019, TMtC completed two membership/fundraising events, an annual winter film night and summer BBQ. TMtC continued with a public group hike and implemented summer sessions, a way for newcomers to get involved in summer recreation in Telluride.
- 2/13/19: TMtC Winter Fundraising Film Night
- 6/30/19: Group Hike, Liberty/Clay’s Way
- 7/16/19: Summer Sessions, Intro to Climbing
- 7/25/19: TMtC Summer BBQ & Membership Drive
- 8/4/19: Summer Sessions, Anchor Building
- 9/11/19: Summer Sessions, Intro to Mountain Running
TMtC continues to make hardware upgrades at local climbing areas to keep them safe. In 2019, TMtC worked with local climbers to re-bolt some old hardware on the popular warm-up Gray Matter at the Streaked Wall.
From late November through early April, TMtC runs the Adult Indoor Climbing Wall program as an alternative, affordable recreation option. The gym offers roped climbs and rated bouldering problems. Difficulty of bouldering problems is beginner to advanced. In the spring of 2019, TMtC collaborated with the Telluride High School Climbing Team to fundraise, engineer and build a tension board for the climbing gym. This training tool now allows gym climbers to train more effectively with thousands of routes available on a tension board-related mobile application.
BACKCOUNTRY AWARENESS & EDUCATION
TMtC acts as an umbrella organization to the Peter Inglis Avalanche Education Fund (PI Avy Fund) which helps fund free avalanche education forums (Telluride Backcountry Chats), backcountry awareness events, scholarship assistance for individual avalanche education courses, avalanche education for kids in the community, Telluride’s backcountry radio program, and other avenues that positively contribute to and influence avalanche education and user awareness in the Telluride region.
During the 2019-2020 winter season, the PI Avy Fund awarded $3,000 in scholarships to 17 individuals for avalanche education courses. Scholarships were given for companion rescue courses, Avy 1 courses and Avy 2 courses.
2019 PI Avy Fund events included:
- 1/9/19: Telluride Backcountry Chats, Welcome Back Winter
- 1/28/19: Telluride Backcountry Chats, Putting it all Together with Jake Hutchinson
- 2/18/19: Telluride Backcountry Chats, Panel Discussion
- 3/11/19: Telluride Backcountry Chats, Close Calls
TMtC’s outreach, awareness and educational programs and resources have been improving each year which has allowed the TMtC Staff to reach more people than ever before through the website, social media platforms and a newsletter database.
TMtC wouldn’t be where it is today without the help and support of its partners, grantors and individual donors. The Board and Staff would like to extend a huge thank you to all partners, sponsors, donors, members, and grantors.
You can become a member or supporter of TMtC here.
We hope you will join us on our journey through 2020!
Telluride Mountain Club President