Silverton Mountain Ski Getaways

ski getaways

While the word unique is often overused, it applies to the Silverton concept: One lift, one big mountain, no grooming, limited reservation-only skiing (for guided season), and a no-frills operation.

Silverton's terrain is for advanced and expert skiers and riders only. The lone double rises from a base of 10,400 feet to 12,300 feet, but there's another 1000 feet of vertical above that, accessible with a modest effort. Skiers and riders in groups of eight with a guide explore the mountain together, which annually sees about 400" of snow.

Patrollers do frequent avalanche mitigation work, but the mountain's avalanche potential is high. Silverton is so new (it first opened in January of 2002) and its concept so untested that the federal public land-use process is still underway. The Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) upped Silverton's daily quota from 40 visitors to 80 awhile ago but it rarely sees that many in a day. While unguided skiing is allowed from November to mid-January and from April until the last day of operations, guides are available throughout the season and required from mid-January into April.

The advanced and expert terrain consists of bowls, snowfields, couloirs, chutes, cliff bands, drops, woods, glades, clearings, avalanche paths, and what-not -just about everything except groomed terrain, which is antithetical to the Silverton experience. The wisdom of providing a guide and full avie equipment to each group is apparent.

Silverton has about 1600 acres of skiable terrain. A shuttle bus helps maximize the use of terrain away from the double; a road runs for quite a distance along the base of the mountain on both sides. But it really is a moot point. Less than 475 skiers and riders are permitted per day during unguided periods (again, only 80 per day during guided season), even that many barely make an impact on the mountain.

Making little or no impact on the environment is also management's goal. The only cutting which took place on the mountain was for the double chair, and even that was kept to a minimum. Silverton offers a number of educational programs that focus on the environment. And while the mountain may have slopeside huts in the future, "development" is too big a word for Silverton's future plans.