Last Tuesday I received an email from a ski buddy: “IT’S NUKING IN SILVERTON,” he wrote, in caps for emphasis. “THE MOUNTAIN IS CLOSED MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY. WE NEED TO BE THERE THURSDAY.”
Two days and one harrowing, late-night drive up Red Mountain Pass later, we’re standing in the parking lot at Silverton Mountain. The snow report claims two feet in the last 48 hours. My heart is palpitating.
Silverton is not your typical resort. Every one of the mountain’s 1,819 skiable acres is expert terrain. No more than 100 people are allowed on the hill on any given day. Skiers and snowboarders are broken into groups of eight based on ability and hiking speed. Each group’s guide checks that everyone is carrying a beacon, shovel, and probe, then gives a quick safety talk on what to do if trouble arises. (It rarely does, thanks to vigorous avalanche control measures.)
From the top of the only lift, a double chair, you can either ski straight down (rarely done) or pop off your skis and hike as high as 13,487 feet. Our first trek brings us to the upper entry of Bowling Alley, a steep glade blanketed with knee-deep fluff. It’s flat out spectacular.
Led capably by our guide Maria Kallman, the group bangs out five thigh-crushing runs. We follow our romp down Bowling Alley with a drop into the steep Rope Dee Dope No. 1 chute. Then we float powder turns in the open bowl of Cabin, tear through the RMYF trees, and finally sail down Tiger Main, which climaxes in a natural half-pipe.
Face shots, grins, hoots, and hollers accompany every run. It’s the best day I’ve ever had on skis. The only downside is a steady 30 mph wind that keeps visibility low—but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. I still haven’t seen Silverton Mountain. Guess I’ll have to go back. —Jason Sumner