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Silverton on Super Bowl Sunday 2009

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I'm going to take a stab at remembering the day at Silverton Feb. 1 since I just got some pictures in the email.  I remember checking out Epic TR's for any info on Silverton and not finding too much, other than making sure you had a backpack that you could tie your skis to.

Eight geezers started out from Durango, CO on Sunday morning.  We made good time in the passes since it hadn't snowed for about 5 days and the roads were clear.  The actual ski area is a few miles past Silverton, and we showed u in time for everyone to get set up with transceivers, skis, and whatever else we needed.  Heed the tips found on the Silverton web site - take lots of water, food, sunscreen, etc.  The base lodge is a yurt, the rental shop is an old school bus.  No frills.  About half of us rented skis, mainly the MadenAK models.  Most of those looked like they'd seen some serious action.  Since we had our 8 man group, we were already set as far as getting divy'd up into groups at the base of the lift.

Here's our guide - he must have drawn the short straw that morning.

He's not getting major vertical with our old legs hiking today.

Here's the fabulous upper lodge at Silverton.  Hard to figure where this fine structure started life as?  Maybe an ice fishing shack?  Nice rack, anyway.

A brief time later, the gang is ready to hike.  No cushy runs under the chair for us.  Dat's me in red, schlepping Head Mojo 90's.

Away we go.  At least initially, it's not too bad as far as hiking goes.  We're making decent time, and the altitude hasn't got it's claws into the flatlanders yet.  We're at about 12,000' here.

Lining up our first run here.  The guide took off next to a set of tracks, instructing us to stay between the old tracks and his.  He sliced off a section that seemed more appropriate for 4 skiers, not 8.  We can't even color and stay in the lines, much less ski them.

It's pretty good stuff, about 12" of semi-freshies.  Probably a thousand feet of vertical to work with on this pitch.  We go one at a time, waiting for the all clear from below.  People are biffing, and Walter (names have been changed to protect the innocent) yard-sales it:

Wally is about in the center of the picture here, and one ski is above him.  This is the part where things get REALLY EXPENSIVE!  Ski submarined into another dimension, is never found.  It's costing us time looking for it as well.  For Walter, let's add up the $$.  Lost skis: $400 (so what if you still have one of them on your foot).  Cost of rental for beacon, backpack, and lift ticket - about $140.  So, cost of one run = well over $500.  Well, only half a run, but you get your money's worth trying to get down the rest of the mountain on one ski.  Well, this blows......try to enjoy the scenery at least.

Add to the carnage one way-overmatched geezer with altitude sickness, and we got to the bottom in only 3 hours.  The lower part of the run was quite steep, and we lose one guy into the trees 'cause he can't self-arrest.  Only minor scratches, but you know how cranial cuts bleed, huh?  We're spread out all over the bottom of the hill, and finally get gathered up along the road at the base of the ridge.  Then the driver of the van passes us and parks 100 yards down the road.  We schlump our way to the van, more than a little pissed since we are the only ones at this part of the road.  No tip for you, dirtbag driver!

So now we're down 2 skiers.  We've still got 6 gamers willing to try another run.  After a short hiatus to eat some lunch and hydrate, we're ready to go again.  We go left at the top this time, and after a 5 minute hike are poised at the top of an inviting gully.

The snow is outstanding at the top, and gets stiffer as we drop in.  Lots of whooping and hollering, hey this ain't too bad.  By the time we're halfway down, euphoria has waned as legs start to cramp.  We've got some seriously tired skiers in the group by the time we ski back to the base, thankful that we don't have to wait for the bus.

At this point, I've still got some turns left in me, but can't get anyone else to make a run.  They are all gassed, and it's about 2 PM.  Dang it!  They encourage me to go ahead, and I jump on the lift with the guide for one more while they turn the Silverton base into an A_basin beach party.

We hike to the right, and I secretly envy the guide's AT setup, mainly the boots with vibram soles and a hinged instep.  We pick out a pretty good run, steep and tree-lined.  Sorry I can't remember the run names.  We crank the turns and make it to the bottom in good time and spirits, and only wait about 5 minutes for the bus back to base.  We pretty much went straight down the center of this picture:

I thank the guide for the day's adventure, and give a pretty good tip (I think - is $65 appropriate for this?).  We head out for home, but the fun isn't over yet.  Close encounter with ditch bank lies ahead:

This is the difference between all season radials (them) and studded snow tires (me).  We send a couple of guys ahead in a good Samaritan's truck to try to get a tow truck an hour before the Super Bowl starts.  Miracle of miracles, they score in downtown Silverton and we're back on the road quickly.

So, if I was to give any advice on skiing Silverton, it would be to pick a group with similar skills, pack lots of water, maybe a few days to acclimate if you're coming from the lowlands, invest in some good gear, maybe some powder cords, and have some fun with the spectacular hill.
post #2 of 5

Thanks for the enjoyable TR.  Great pics and description of a "typical day" for a real skier, as opposed to the over hype you get from Silverton Mountain and ski magazines.  I am interested to know how the experience matched your expectations going into it.  It looks like you had pretty good snow conditions, although you experienced their usual "farming" of new snow where 8 skiers are only given enough untracked for 4, when you are looking at a whole bowl of it.  MF
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
My expectations were based mainly on the Silverton website.  As I mentioned, trip reports on EpicSki were not numerous, and the most extensive Epic TR was based on a bad experience.  Sorta like when you look at reviews on resort hotels; only the unhappy customers post reviews.  As such, I thought my expectations were reasonably met.  There was hiking, steeps, no crowds, minimal facilities, all things that I expected.  Better bring your A game, it's not a place for anything less than expert skills.  Ski magazine overhype - what can I say about that?

The 'Farming' issue - well, that miserly attitude exists for a reason, I guess.  The guides think they own the mountain, and perhaps in a way they do.  We ran into the same thing snowcat skiing at Grand Targhee.  If you are training for the Powder 8 championship or as precise as Dave the Farmer, then what the guides bite off for you would be adequate.  We treated it as more of a guideline than a code.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Bump - due to lack of snow in real-time. 

post #5 of 5


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