Silverton is like no other “resort” in the country, and possibly the world. In fact, calling it a resort is a stretch, as it consists solely of one old double chair that rises 1,900 vertical feet and dumps you on top of a ridge at 12,300 feet. From there, you can hike as high as 13,487 feet, making Silverton the highest Ski Area in North America. Completely ungroomed and accessed only with a guide (except in the early and late season), Silverton is a backcountry experience like no other. The only time you’re going get lines like this is via Helicopter, which by the way, Silverton offers too. All this unprecedented access is compounded by the ridiculous amount of snowfall the San Juan Mountains receive. It’s not uncommon to see 10-20 inch dumps on a nightly basis in Silverton, and the professional avalanche control work done by the mountain’s highly trained staff means the entire place is safe and under control. Silverton is open from Thursday through Sunday from January 19th – April 1, while before and after that timeframe they offer a couple weeks of unguided skiing at a discounted rate.
Check out silvertonmountain.com for info on rates, directions, lodging and more, and see more photos from Silverton on vanssnow.tumblr.com.
Words and photos: Larry Nuñez