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Aaron Brill's dream

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Anyone else hear about Aaron Brill's dream of opening a back country only ski area in Silverton, CO?

I guess it is now less of a dream and on its way to reality, he just purchased a used lift and is awaiting permits from the BLM to access a bunch of terrain. He has the blessing of the town mayor also.

According to what I've heard you will need to pass some test of theirs to determine you are back country competent, have to carry a shovel and beacon in order to ski there.

I've only been to Silverton once, it is really a small strange little town stuck in the 1880s. No buildings higher than two stories as I remember. If you have seen the movie Pale Rider with Clint Eastwood, the town comes pretty close to resembling the one in that movie.

Critic say he will spend all his money on avalanche control, Brill says he only needs 90 skiers a day to break even. He got the idea from the New Zealand club fields he spent 6 months skiing a while ago.

It all sounds pretty wild to me.
post #2 of 26

Check out some of the sponsorship/lifetime pass opportunities. For 50K, you get:

One private day on the mountain, You and 3 other friends have the entire mountain to yourself for one day a year (reservations required), a lifetime of unlimited free skiing for four people,10 years of free lodging, First priority of luxury VIP room -2 weeks guaranteed in winter and 2 weeks guaranteed in the summer (reservations required), Private luxury airport pick up and drop off, Embroidered Fleece Jacket exclusively for Ultra VIP’s, 5 free local massages, Free usage of powder skis, and the


Through this program, You do not have to wait on lift lines, You can ski a ½ hour before the lifts open, You get first tracks!

For 250K you get to name the place. Pretty neat.

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[This message has been edited by Tads (edited February 07, 2001).]</FONT>
post #3 of 26
Make sure you check out the "sick terrain pictures" section of their website. That place looks spectacular!!! Sounds like a great idea, and the beauty of it is that the entire area has already been trashed by mining, so there is no environmental opposition to the project.
post #4 of 26
Well this might sound cynical but I hope they get lots of snow on a real frequent basis cuz what is worse than skiing the bc when the conditions have become heinous? Well how about PAYING to ski TRACKED OUT heinous bc conditions.

I assume the reason grooming was invented in the first place was so an area could survive between storms.

I do like the minimalist approach, but I also know that people do have a way of putting in "improvements".
post #5 of 26
I love the concept. I saw the article about this place (not sure which mag) and thought about it quite a bit as I was reading and posting on some of the discouraging deveopments at bellwether resort Vail. However, for $50,000 I think I would expect some stock as well as private day on mountain, freebie powder skis, etc.
post #6 of 26
reservations required, luxury VIP rooms, airport pickups, backcountry , massage, liftline,

what word is not the same as the others???
post #7 of 26
I live in Durango and have met Aaron Brill on a visit to Silverton. I asked about the VIP's and not one has sold. It was his first idea to raise some capital. So don't worry about the non-backcountry folk buying in. They wouldn't last an hour in Silverton anyway. The real deal is a $2,500 LIFETIME season pass. It is on sale now from $5,000 and I hear they have sold a bunch of them. If any of you buy a pass tell them I sent you because there is a $100.00 referal bonus!!! By the way over 2 feet up there in the last 24, Red mountain Pass is closed.
post #8 of 26
My friends say I am a skeptic, I am not sure if they are right or not.
That said, I wish Arron and Jen a lot of luck, they will need it. By certifying someone as being capable of skking the terrain they will open with their lift they could assume the liability if someone chooses the wrong thing on the wrong day. Additionally, by performing avalanche hazard reduction on the terrain they are opening and then taking a "have at it" attitude, the liability skyrockets.
The USA and New Zealand have very different outlooks on risk and liability. I think the Silverton project is interesting but may be buried (no pun) by forces way beyond their ability to control.
post #9 of 26
BSR, I feel bad for you. It is people like you who don't try to reach peaks because they know it will be hard. Scared to try new things, too guarded to take risks...you poor thing. I think this new area is going to be great and although some idiots might try to sue Brill, I believe they won't succeed. I mean they sign a waiver and have to pass a test. I am so proud of people who try to live their dreams and they will have people like me backing them up! I only wish I could afford a lifetime season pass!!!! Please don't come to Southern Colorado, it's people like you who try to sue.
post #10 of 26
I sure didn't get that from BSR's post.

I would like to see them succeed and I'm sure BSR would too but BSR has a point.

That said - I looked at their site - and sent them my name - hoping to trade work for passes.
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[This message has been edited by harpo (edited February 12, 2001).]</FONT>
post #11 of 26
Thanks Harpo, you seem to see what I mean.

Pow: Its not people like me who tend to sue or laugh at those who reach for dreams.
I have spent a long time in the ski industry and worked hard to help open and develop some of the most extreme terrain in North America. If you have ever been to Big Sky and skied the tram you would see how similar it is to the Silverton area. I also have had to deal with people who refuse to take into account their own stupidity and end up blaming others (see the company who put them there in the first place) for their own actions, despite waivers and warning signs at every junction. Lawsuits in the U.S. are a fact of life. Americans view an accident as akin to hitting the winning number in powerball and sue for the most inane reasons. Do not feel sorry for me, look into your own response and wonder why you get so hot and bothered by an alternate viewpoint.
Aaron Brill and Jen Adler should be respected for taking a different road, but that doesn't mean the road should or will be free from sharp curves or the drunken louts who would sue them because they chose to build it. <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by BSR (edited February 13, 2001).]</FONT>
post #12 of 26
Sorry for getting hot and bothered. I just don't know why there always has to be "nay sayers". Why can't people just be supportive but I guess I see your point. Living in Big Sky, you saw first hand how a patroller's death lead to a serious lawsuit that changed the explosive world forever. I do think that Big Sky is a poorly run mountain though, I mean they should get sued for leaving people on the lift overnight. I don't know the details of the patroller's death only rumors. I hope Brill has good lawyers to prevent any serious problems.
post #13 of 26
Have you ever skied Big Sky to base your conclusion that Big Sky is a poorly run resort?
Do you have any idea how many people get left on lifts in the US, sad to say it happens more than once every winter, at Vail, Park City, Deer Valley etc. Does this lead you to believe they are also poorly run companies. The incident at Big Sky was due to a breakdown at the lowest level of the employee chains, a lift op. and a patroller failed to follow procedures correctly, as described in the mountain operating plan. In addition you state the people involved should sue. In this case they spent a long cold night on a lift but suffered no physical damage. Their mental anguish is an ephemeral damage that is difficult to put a price on. Should they be compensated $100.00 for every hour, $1000? $10K?. How much is enough and at what point does this become a type of "stick it to the corp. they can afford it? This last summer at Deer Vally, a mountain biker was left on a lift by the head of the mountain bike program. Until he fell, he was cold but not injured, after he jumped, he had a broken femur and pelvis, is the ski area liable for leaving him on the lift? sure. But should they be held accountable for the injuries suffered when he made a "rope" from his gear and the rope failed? Its not about maintaining a positive, don't worry be happy attitude. People do weird $hit all the time and then search for someone else to blame. Whatever you heard about the patroller who died at Big Sky may or may not be true, I was there and know what happened.
In the last 25 years, 2 patrollers have lost their lives due to explosive accidents, while over 25 have died performing avalanche hazard reduction. The accident you refer to has not changed the explosive world one iota, miners and general purpose blasters still are maimed and killed at about the same rates.
It has caused the ski areas who engage in explosive control of avalanches to tighten up procedures and train the personnel involved more thoroughly.
I am not a naysayer, I feel I am realistic in my views of the current liability issues in the United States. I don't write the laws but I am affected by them as surely as you are and everyone else who buys a lift ticket.
Scott Schmidt was quoted in a Greg Stump movie as saying, "people who sue ski areas should be shot". A little harsh, my solution would be, if you choose to sue a ski area, you should not be able to ski at ski areas again..... Ever.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by BSR (edited February 14, 2001).]</FONT>
post #14 of 26
This should probably be a new forum since we are not talking about Aaron Brill's dream any more but yes I have skied Big Sky quite a few times. I was evacuted out of a gondala there and got a free hot cooco. I didn't sue but I will say in my 20 years of skiing over 50-100 days a year that has never happened at another resort to me. I have heard of it happening but not to me. Sound like someone has been working for the corp for too long...just kidding. Sorry to bad mouth your home mountain but..oh well you should be used to it. As for the explosive world, it has changed. I have a friend at the Yellowstone Club who said no one is allowed to be certified in the state of Montana. Companies also require 1 million dollars in insurance to purchase explosives. That might not be a big deal for big sky but a friend who is trying to start a snowcat company in Summit County doesn't know how to pull it off.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by powperson (edited February 14, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by powperson (edited February 14, 2001).]</FONT>
post #15 of 26
Let's see, powperson doesn't like nay sayers, but he has several bones to pick (publicly)with Big Sky Mountain.
Okay, yeah, I get it......
post #16 of 26
Truth is stranger than fiction but its still the truth. I have worked for big sky for 10 years and make no seceret of it.
Your friend at the Yellowstone club is quite wrong. The state of montana wants nothing to do with certifying anyone involved with avalanche control.
As for indemnification for the purchase of explosives, try 5 million dollars proof of insurance. I don't know what that costs but would guess the policy costs a good chunk of change. A lot of explosive distributors required this type of insurance long before christmas day 1996.
You can bad mouth my employer all you want but people who ski here know how good we have it and if you wish to keep being so negative, have at it. As JW pointed out, I am a skeptic your a negative person who had a less than satisfying experience here and now choose's to attack Big Sky rather than discussing Arron Brill and SMOLC. Should you have sued just because a lift broke and you were on it? beats me, but the whole idea refutes your entire arguments. What is it you want?
By the way a friend of mine is the new snow safety director there and another good friend is spending time working for silverton also. I wish them all the luck in the world, but the facts remain the same. The business model is unproven and time will tell. Talk to you in a few years.
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[This message has been edited by BSR (edited February 14, 2001).]</FONT>
post #17 of 26
Big sky rules! sorry
post #18 of 26
Damn straight, glad we got that settled. Now get out of here and go skiing.
post #19 of 26
Seems like his original dream never really took off...
"Currently there is a void existing in the mountain communities of the west. There are fewer small, inexpensive recreational oases serving the needs of the serious outdoor enthusiast. In an era of mergers and acquisitions, the winter landscape is dominated by mega-resorts and multi-million dollar developments"
" Your company can lease the naming right of Colorado’s newest ski area, operating at the Silverton Outdoor Learning and Recreation Center. What does this mean? Incredible exposure and non-stop advertising for your company and marketing that will reach farther than you could ever afford. "

Seems a bit contradictory to me. We hate the way that investments by U.S. big corporations have ruined skiing, but we want you to give us money.

And then...
"Some folks have called us dreamers.
How can a ski area exist with out all of the hotels, condos, and real-estate?
Help us prove the "Nay sayers" wrong.
Ski areas should be about skiing not malls, shopping and junk."
Followed by...
"ULTRA VIP Membership
(Total of only four being sold)
For $50,000 you get...
One private day on the mountain, You and 3 other friends have the entire mountain to yourself for one day a year (reservations required), a lifetime of unlimited free skiing for four people,10 years of free lodging, First priority of luxury VIP room -2 weeks guaranteed in winter and 2 weeks guaranteed in the summer (reservations required), Private luxury airport pick up and drop off, Embroidered Fleece Jacket exclusively for Ultra VIP’s, 5 free local massages, Free usage of powder skis, and the
Through this program, You do not have to wait on lift lines, You can ski a ½ hour before the lifts open, You get first tracks!"

Again, what is going on here? We offer a resort for the real outdoor enthusaist, not the rich snobs only interested in VIP treatment. But, oh yeah, we need their money too!

Unfurtunately, ski areas need money to operate and grow, no matter how small the scope. Insurance, patrols, avalanche control and lifts are not cheap. So resorts
that want to grow these services must get capital. So hotels, condos and restaurants are needed.

Those who can't stand the modern day resort, access backcountry, or frequent some of the older smaller resorts.

I think that there is a place for Silverton in our country, but it needs to be done right. It looks to me that Aaron and Jen are realizing that without a substatial bankroll, keeping corporate influence and development out is impossible.

In the meantime, we will continue to dream.
post #20 of 26
True they need to make money but advertising and getting a free day on the mountain / nice room/cabin (not hotel) is a decent trade off in my mind. Rich snobs ski, like it or not. SOLRC needs money like it or not. Is it better to build large scale real-estate and golf courses to raise money like everyone else? What most of you folks not from SW Colorado don't understand is something is going to develop in Silverton. Since the mine closed they have the highest unemployment rate in the state. A large developer is trying to get approval for 10 lifts and a tram in the same area. Snowmobile clubs across the state are looking to Silverton to slove their need for speed. And then there is Aaron and Jen. I have heard Aaron has a background in environmental studies so I trust that he will keep his ideals and raise money not at the cost of the environment. I ski the backcountry a lot down here. The terrain where they are going to build the chair is sweet. I can work a 1/2 day, drive to Silverton, go ride SOLRC, Probably getting at least 8,000+ vert in the afternoon. I can't wait for the chair to get in. Aren't there any other people out there who think this cool! LOCAL SW COLORADANS SPEAK UP.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by powperson (edited February 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #21 of 26
I'm not from SW Colorado but from the front range. It sounds like a great idea to me. The idea of avalanche controlled, steep, "backcountry" sounds sweet! I hope they stay small with just one lift and remain INEXPENSIVE. I go to the posh resorts and pay the big bucks to ride the lifts and ski as much terrain as possible in one day. I won't pay much to spend the day hiking when I can do it for free. I mean, Copper and Breckenridge have some fun bowls you can hike to that are avalanche controlled, but who wants to do it for $50+ per day? I used to ski at Berthound Pass a lot before they re-opened, but haven't been back since. They charge a lot of money to spend half the day hiking and the other half waiting for the shuttle to show up. I guess I shouldn't knock it until I try it though. Anyway, I like the idea of providing avalanche controlled "backcountry" terrain with a little help from a lift, but they need to remember that they're providing next to nothing compared to the big resorts, so their prices will have to reflect that fact to make it worth while.
post #22 of 26
You say the Silverton area is ripe for development and jobs are needed. If the current model for Brills dream goes forth it would create 3-4 positions for lift ops and a lift maint. person, a few patrollers jobs but not more than 2-3 (after all this is a backcountry area). All these jobs would be fairly low paying in keeping with the thrifty nature of the entire idea. For a town the size of Silverton, 7 jobs would be a help but isn't the savior of the local economy from those evil developers and snowmobilers. Sounds to me like you want to prosper with out the negative impact of growth. Pretty tough act to pull off. Good luck again. <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by BSR (edited February 17, 2001).]</FONT>
post #23 of 26
I have heard lift tickets will be $25.00. Also Hear 30 new jobs in San Juan County making him the 3rd largest employer in the county next to the state and county. With him opened in the winter, resturants and other businesses in town that close for the winter can stay opened. The school can keep some students and families too...etc I give up talking about this. I am going out to ski.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by powperson (edited February 17, 2001).]</FONT>
post #24 of 26
Fair enough, the 3rd largest employer in a county hit hard by economic downturns could be important. But even if Brills dream comes to fruition, what are the chances thet the Velocity Peak proposal will also happen. Also wondering what impacts either of these projects will have on B.C. sking access in the area. Will folks still be able to access the terrain served by the SOLRC lift if they choose not to buy a ticket?<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by BSR (edited February 19, 2001).]</FONT>
post #25 of 26
Again spoken like a true out of towner. There is backcountry access everywhere here, in silverton alone. Next to SOLRC is minnie haha basin an area twice the size of the area of SOLRC with a road going all the way up. There is Kendall Mountain, Eureka, Animas forks, Coal bank pass, Red Mountain pass, and Molas pass and that is just a few of the sweet mountains within 20 miles. I don't know if you can hike up the SOLRC area without paying??As a bc skier though, SOLRC will open backcountry options because they will be doing avalanche mitigation work when the backcountry danger is high and unridable other places. As for the big ski area plan, I don't know much about it except the guy has been talking about it for 10 years with no movement. He admitted in the Silverton Standard that he doesn't even have the first 24 million he needs to get his first 5 lifts, mega hotel, swimming pool and junk off the ground. I am against the Velocity peak proposal. I have heard that the two ski areas are in different areas but I don't really know.
post #26 of 26
Thanks for the info. By the way I am an "out of towner", hence the handle Big Sky Resident. Lighten up.
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