Ski Silverton Mountain

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Want to Ski Silverton Mountain?  Save yourself a lot of frustration and go Cat Skiing instead or to almost any decent resort for that matter. I'd rather go to Utah almost any day than be sold a lode of Fool's Powder by Silverton. 

    Silverton Mountain has a great concept so I organized a trip last year for a group of my College ski friends to check out what they had to offer.  Every article I read said the experience was unreal with bottomless powder , extreme terrain, and guides to take you to it.  Well that may be how it is for a crew from Ski Magazine but for us and nearly everyone I have talked to it was totally different. I wanted to like these guys since they are striking out on their own to offer a bare bones core ski experience so I was excited to try them out.  Too bad it's a better story than it proves out to be.
  I called on Thursday to confirm details and ask about conditions. They told me there was still tons of untouched powder for us to ski and the snow was stable, "look forward to some great skiing".  We arrived there on Saturday and were psyched when they took us out to the lift and paired us with our guides. Heading up the lift and saw the rugged beauty of the local mountains and knew this was a great place to have a resort.  Spirits were high.
 We started our first hike and quickly found out that our guide was out of shape. I had been worried that I would have trouble keeping up with someone that does this everyday since I had an 11 month old that was getting us up every night.  We got to the top and

Why I don't recommend Silverton Mountain:

- Very likely to get a poser guide, 3 groups that I had friends in that day had weak guides.

- Their safety procedures were ridiculous. It was 2 weeks after a storm and we we skiing previously tracked trees one at a time for 150 feet then being told to hide behind this tree not that one so the next person could go.

 
I had selected a group of skiers that had been around the block in the best of Colorado, Utah, Whistler, Europe etc. We aren't rock stars but we can hang.

  Why am I making the effort to write this?  Silverton has made a huge deal about how special their skiing is and given visiting writers a totally different experience than most other customers will ever see.  We were shocked by how different it was, how poor their management and guiding was that I had to put out my perspective so others could make their choice with their eyes open. I'm a big boy and can handle missing the good storms but to be told we will still be skiing plenty of fresh 2 days before and come to find the mountain so worked just wasn't cool.  I have told my story countless times to other skiers on lifts or where ever I found them and I've only had 2 people say they had a great day there out of at least 20. Most were much closer to our experience and instead of just having a bad day felt genuinely burned by the experience

  Can Silverton Mountain improve?  There are definitely things they can and will do better but their own growth is working hard against them. When we were there the limit had just been upped to 80 people a day and now it is 120. The dawn of un-guided skiing is likely to open the floodgates even further in 2006. Silverton is going to have a very tough time living up to the powder experience they are selling even in an epic year like 2005.  It's hard for me to say all this because I really do want them to win. We need more core skiing experiences and that is why I went down to ski them for myself in the first place. The problem is that from what I have seen and the inexorable pressures growth will bring I don't see how they can make it work.  I think it may be good if you hit it right but nothing like the Motherlode of powder and Adventure Skiing they are selling to the ski world.

 My conclusion is that I would rather be nearly anywhere else on a normal day and especially on a Powder day. Why?  Because you will only get 3-5 runs at Silverton any day and I can burn powder runs all day at Alta, Snowbird, Steamboat, Vail etc with the first 3-5 runs nearly untouched and the next 10-15 runs working the stashes.

With 35,000 acres and only 2 cats of 12 people (includes 2 guides) running most days they probably have at least 5 times more north facing terrain than the 1,600 acres Silverton Mountain has in total terrain.  That makes for plenty of snow in the bank between storms for the Cat Skiing while Silverton is running a snow deficit soon after each storm. That combined with up to 120 people a day and the dawn of un-guided skiing opening the floodgates even further, Silverton is going to have a tough time living up to the powder experience they are selling even in an epic year like 2005.

Why not Silverton Mountain

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