Here are five things you need to know about Silverton this season:
1. Silverton’s notorious logo, featuring a skier tumbling off a cliff, should tell you all you need to know: There’s nothing for beginners here, and even experts are required to travel the mountain with a guide for most of the season, which runs $179 per person (lift tickets during the unguided season, March 30 through April 8, are $69). “Silverton Mountain is on the bucket list for skiers and snowboarders from around the world because it offers some of the most exciting adventure skiing you can find anywhere,” Brill says. “The mountain features everything from steep glades to narrow couloirs to big open bowls, with an average annual snowfall in excess of 400 inches. Combine this with a limited number of skiers/riders during our Thursday-through-Sunday operating schedule, and you have an opportunity to score some of the best snow conditions on the planet. Some people worry that they will slow down a group or be slowed down by a person, but the truth is most people find old friends or make new travel partners while visiting.”
2. With just one chairlift and no base-area lodge, Silverton Mountain is about as no-frills as it gets. Start and end the day at a yurt, which offers avalanche-gear rentals and demo skis and snowboards in the morning and becomes a bar in the afternoon, serving mixed drinks and microbrews. “We don’t recommend more than one if you don’t have a designated driver, since Silverton Mountain is six miles up a twisting dirt road,” Brill says. Once you’ve safely made it down to the town of Silverton, check out Avalanche Brewing Company, Golden Block Brewery or the Rum Bar. “And don’t miss the pizza at the Avalanche Brewery,” Brill adds. “It’s legendary.”
3. Check the events schedule, because big weekends like the New Year’s Bash (opening weekend, December 28-30) and MLK Big Mountain Weekend (January 12-14) are great times to visit and meet some new riding partners for life. Brill says she’s especially proud of two event weekends geared specifically toward women: the Big Mountain Betty Weekend (February 10-11) and Sisters Meeting in the Mountains (closing weekend, April 6-8).
4. Silverton’s helicopter will be available beginning January 25. Book it for the full day for $999, or pay $179 per run.
5. A stay in Silverton is one of the best deals and best-kept secrets in Colorado ski country. “Silverton is the only ski town in Colorado where winter is the low season,” Brill says. “It’s a great place to go to avoid the madness of other ski areas. New Year’s and MLK weekend are generally off-peak times. Those are great holiday weekends to drive down to the southwest corner of Colorado and take advantage of the lack of crowds.” For true budget accommodations, try the Blair Street Hostel (bunkhouse beds starting at $20 a night, private rooms starting at $60, and there’s a “420-friendly courtyard” out back; book at blairstreethostel.com or call 970-387-5599). Or step it up at the recently renovated Grand Imperial Hotel, built in 1883, which partners with Silverton Mountain for winter season deals and hosts some of the ski area’s evening parties (grandimperialhotel.com, 800-341-3340).