No Jerrys Allowed
April 14 2021
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit “the most expert ski area in North America.” While the aforementioned title is self-proclaimed, after visiting, it’s easy to see why the Silverton Mountain proprietors confidently claim said designation.
The ski area boasts but a single chairlift. From the dropoff point, all skiable terrain is accessible via either bootpack or helicopter. Because there is no grooming performed at Silverton, skiers are subjected to, at best, highly inconsistent snow quality. Most of my group's ski day consisted of hunting for the best conditions while taking into account weather, time of day, and fall line aspects. Ultimately we had four total descents over the course of the day and were spent as a result. Picking through packed powder, crust, rock gardens, crust, slush, crust, moguls, crust, glades, and crust all while on 35-45 degree slopes really takes it out of you.
When I wasn’t focused on descending safely, what really drew my attention was the clientele. Of the maybe fifty skiers on the mountain that Thursday, I was likely in the bottom five in terms of downhill ability. Granted I hadn’t skied anything steeper than 27-ish degrees previously this season and as a result was not dialed in. Even if I was better prepared however, I’d likely still be in the bottom half of the ability ladder. More so than fall line prowess, the atmosphere was thick with confidence. Every customer was quick, capable, and fluid. Break an unwritten rule in front of this crew, and you’re liable to hear about it. Drop your skis? Jerry*. Have trouble loading/unloading? Jerry. Traverse across a fall line? Jerry. Side slip a chute and push off the snow? Jerry. I found myself guilty of that last infraction, but hey, it was steep!
*Jerry: “An individual who exhibits a true lack of understanding for their sport, or for life in general.”
Unlike most ski resorts where one descends to the base area, at Silverton skiers generally meander their way to a dirt road on the backside of the mountain. From there, a bus picks up the various hitch hikers and shuttles them to the lift loading zone.
A new friend, Rick, on the cat track to the bus stop
Earn your turns, boot pack edition
First run of the day. The snow hadn’t quite softened up yet and I’m quickly realizing what kind of day I’m about to have.
We were able to secure a deal on a heli drop. The novelty of the experience was worth every penny.