1st Silverton, CO trip

Arrived home after a quick ski trip to Silverton, CO. I expected a big mountain, a slow 2 person chairlift, a quiet mining town, and plenty of hike-to-terrain.  All of which we found.

Silverton, CO is about 5hrs from Breckenridge, CO. Chang W., Lucy W, and I left Breckenridge about 1pm and arrived about 6pm in Silverton on Wednesday. 

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  The drive from Ouray to Silverton is pretty incredible.  Have the best driver in your car handle this winding mountain road. It is a spectacular drive to say the least.  The drive from Durango is much easier, although the last 15 mi of that drive is pretty thrilling as well. The drive was relatively easy, although significant storm activity could create a much longer drive.  
We stayed at Villa Dalla Valle, an est.1901 historic home and now Bed and Breakfast.  We arrived to wine and cheese offered to us by our host Pam W.  We will look to stay there again on our next trip.  We will also bring our guitars as they is an extra room to get a little rowdy and play some music.  Summer is the busy time for Silverton, as the Durango-Silverton railroad makes 4 daily stops and brings 2000 visitors a day to the sleepy town.  After dinner at The Pickle Barrel, I used the hot tub at Villa Dalla Valle and stretched by legs out.  I wanted to be ready for the mountain.
In the morning after a nice breakfast with Pam, we headed to Silverton Mountain which is about 15 minutes from the town of Silverton.  It is suggested that you arrive at 8:15am to check in.  I would suggest to be their by 8am if you need to rent any ski/ride equipment or avalanche gear.  You can leave your skis, boots, and remainder of your equipment in the parking lot prior to check in.  The walk way from the lot to the “base tent” can be very slick.  Less to carry the better.  When you get to the base tent you can rent any additional gear that you require. Then go into the “equipment bus” located out the door and another slick walkway.
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Checking in early will serve you in a number of ways, and is not due to delays or slow service, but rather it takes time to get your way around this “base area”.  Arrival prior to 8:10 will most likely get you a parking space right in the small primary parking lot.  The rest of the parking is on the main road.  (TIP) And since you usually get a ride back to the base area via bus/shuttle/or pickup truck and they drop you in the parking lot you can use your vehicle as storage each time you loop through the parking lot.  This came in handy at lunchtime. We chose not to reserve a lunch and bring our own. The base tent will have your lunch there if you pre-order it.  Otherwise, there are some snacks and basic bar in the tent.
Required gear:
Avalanche Beacon
Shovel
Avalanche Probe
“Required” Gear:
Wide skis 100+mm underfoot
Backpack with the ability to carry your skis/snowboard
Water (only bottled water for purchase available at Silverton Mtn.)
And a good night’s sleep
Photo Album
There is a guided and unguided season for Silverton Mountain. We were there on the final unguided weekend. They offer a maximum of 450 unguided skiers/riders, and 80 guided
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 visitors.  Those meeting for guided tours meet in the parking lot (at the base of the 2 seat chairlift).  Arron Brill (owner) did a quick sort of Fast and Medium hiking speeds.  
The 80 guided visitor limit was filled.  2 moved into the fast group, and 78 classified themselves as Medium/moderate.  Our group was originally 7, although 2 moved to a faster walking group on the second hike.  
Kim G was our guide for the day.  She asked about our shovels and probes in our packs.  We went through a brief safety check of our avalanche beacons. After which we went up for our first run (9:05).  Our first run didn’t require a hike. We skied a bowl on an east facing slope.  The snow was decent, but only a few inches of Powder.
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 It was still a good one to get out of the way.   Our second was a 25 min hike about 25 minutes below the “Billboard”.  It was tough for some members of the group as we were hiking above 13,000ft at this point.  I don’t usually hike with a backpack, but I would say that a good pack to hold your skis or board, snacks and water is all but a necessity.
On the second run, Kim found some very good thigh deep snow in the “Witch’s Tit”.  I jumped in first and triggered a little sluff slide, but it was very minor and provided some nice fresh track opportunity.
After a brief 20 min lunch we went back up and skied over to “Coloradoian” and looked into the “Stooges” on one side, and the “100 acre woods” on the other.   Our fourth run was in “Sunset” below the Billboard area.  There is much more to explore, but it will have to wait until next time.  Most likely the next time will be March 3-5th.  
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If you plan on skiing Silverton Mountain, be 
prepared to hike above 13,000 all day.  The mountain is open from 9-3:00 and 4-6 hikes is about average. We had a great time, but one of our party had a very bad afternoon reaction to the altitude.  Bring your water and drink often. Although the only “facilities” are located in the white outhouse behind the base tent.
Call in advance for guided skiing.  With Silverton Mountain becoming more popular the spaces are filling quickly. The bulk of the season is guide only.  And although the unguided season is popular for the value shopper ($49), the $129 price tag for a guide and lift is very fair.  
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When I spoke with Kim she let me know how they guided and skied the mountain during guided only season.  The mountain has a number of zones which are progressively opened Thursday through Sunday.  Each zone is then “Farmed” to get max usage over the course of the week.  Assuming there has been recent snow, this should provide fresh tracks for those who make the trek to Silverton, and the hike up Silverton Mountain.
We also recommend having a little cash on the side for the guide, especially if they help you find the goods on the hill.    And if possible, ask for Kim.  She is also a guide in Alaska Mid-March to early May. 

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