After a dry fall, the mountains are now buried in snow, and all of Colorado's resorts are open. In this year's edition of the Edge, our snow-activities guide to Colorado mountains, we told you about what’s new at every major ski area, reaching out to experts for suggestions on how to make the most of your day on the slopes. Here's what's new at Silverton.
Now celebrating its fifteenth anniversary season, Silverton Mountain carries on with its single chairlift and helicopter-serviced terrain to provide the most intense high-alpine ski and snowboard experience in Colorado. Its notorious logo of a stick figure skier plummeting over a cliff is only partially in jest, avalanche beacons, snow probes and shovels are mandatory, and guides are required for most of the season, which opens on December 29. There should be plenty of snow by then; Silverton guides have been posting photos of themselves getting powder face shots since September. Reservations are recommended, because Silverton caps its crowd at 475 skiers per day; call 970-387-5706 to make sure you’re one of them, especially if you want to be there for the opening weekend New Year’s Eve bash, with lodging packages available from the newly renovated Grand Imperial Hotel.
“This is the only heli experience in the continental United States that offers single drops in addition to your lift-served day,” says Silverton Mountain co-owner Jen Brill. “That means you can ski our lift-accessed backcountry all day and add one, two or three additional heli laps at just $179 per person per drop. We have a new deal: Buy two drops, get your third for only $99.”
Bring a friend with evenly matched abilities, or seek one out when you get there. “Since the mountain requires guides most of the time, there is a camaraderie among the guides and guests of sharing where the best snow is, and no rush to get there,” Brill says. “Silverton is a great place to go to avoid the crowds and have a different kind of mountain experience.” Oh, and step up your cardio training for a few weeks before you go: Silverton offers hike-to terrain as high as 13,487 feet, and you could be climbing 3,000 feet of vertical drop per run in some of the deepest snow imaginable.
Don’t think one, two, or even three helicopter rides are going to satisfy you? Book a seat for the whole day, for $999. “We get you six runs in terrain that can rival the Canadian Alps,” Brill says. “Fly beyond the already phenomenal lift-accessed terrain for the best day ever.” For the ladies, Brill also recommends coming up for the annual Sisters Meeting in the Mountains event on closing weekend, April 8-9, with packages including guided skiing, lodging and a speaker series featuring leaders from the outdoor and snow-sports industries.
Ski bum tips:
“Silverton is the only ski town where winter is the off season,” Brill says. “You can stay in a hotel for as low as $50 a night. You can volunteer for bootpacking and earn a free ticket. You can car camp anywhere in San Juan County as long as you are not on private property or in the snow plow’s way.”
After sharing beers in the base area yurt with your fellow shredders, head back to town and check out the Montanya Distillery tasting room or the Avalanche Brewing Company. “The Avalanche Brewery has really stepped up its game over the last few years, brewing at 9,300 feet and offering some of the coldest and freshest beer in Colorado,” Brill says.