Striking Gold in Silverton

Striking Gold in Silverton

Posted by Kalen Thorien on 8th Feb 2015

A few years ago I had my first skiing experience in New Zealand. I quickly fell in love with the simplicity of their resorts and the freedom to roam the surrounding mountains, a concept that is very much lost in the United States.

So it was a blessing to come across a place like Silverton Mountain. Owners Aaron and Jenny Brill based the resort off of the Kiwi concept of having one lift that puts you closer to your objective, and then you put in the work. At most ski resorts, Silverton’s easiest runs would be considered double black diamonds. They guarantee fresh tracks, tough terrain, and very few people.

Oh "hello" sexy untracked line ...

Grayson Schaffer from Outside Magazine enticed me to come down to ski Silverton and the surrounding backcountry. Upon arrival, I realized Silverton’s not your typical Colorado ski town. Abandoned BBQ joints and dilapidated hotels take the place of Gucci and Prada stores. Wood smoke hovers above the streets and a few neon “open” signs indicate some sign of life. You quickly get the impression that the people who live here have a deep love for the mountains ... or their car broke down and they ended up staying. Like the resort itself, the town is simple, down to earth, and authentic.

Silverton greeted us with a classic alpenglow. I was extremely excited to see fresh pow and BIG mountains!

That week, we experienced a plethora of deep pow, sunny days, chilling winds, steep lines, and endless tree skiing. Early mornings dotted with pink clouds on the ridgelines were enough to warm my heart, even though my toes were numb. Bottomless pow on the various passes surrounding Silverton allowed us safe options through perfectly spaced trees. But still—the looming high-alpine teased my imagination.

Bouncy happy play time.

You come to Silverton to get strong. You come to test your abilities. You come to experience skiing at its most raw. Time is irrelevant in Silverton. The entire week was a blur of giddy pow turns and big lines. Losing track of what day it is is standard. Life is simplified to early mornings, breakfast burritos, skin tracks, freshies, great people, cold beer, pizza, and sleep. As it says on the back of the shampoo bottle, “Repeat if necessary”...

Well boys and girls, lather up because it’s very, very necessary.

Cheers to you Silverton!

Silverton shuttle at your service. "Do not open" signs and local stoke is free of charge.

Photos by Grayson Schaffer.

Kalen Thorien is a Watsatch-based skier, firefighter, musician, explorer, and a Kate’s ambassador. Catch up with her on Facebook. Or check out her website for more of her musings.