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Old 11-13-2006   #1
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 2
Don't get caught in Silverton Mt.'s Smokescreen for the BLM

Dear fellow snowriders,

Don't get caught in Silverton Mountain's smoke screen for the BLM

On the morning of April 16, 2006, we loaded onto the Silverton Mountain chairlift for what was to be a great day to share with my best friends. After unloading we strapped our boards to our backs and headed up Billboard peak. We were told that this was the first time Billboard had ever been open to unguided skiers. This simple fact alone would be considered a "no-brainer" in my mind to make sure that proper markation lines be in affect and most importantly, have a ski patrol at the top of Billboard to alert un-guided skiers away from dangerous and/or illegal skiing zones. The fact is, there was no patrol at the top of Billboard when we arrived. Aaron Brill, the owner of Silverton Mnt. was finding it more important to take pictures of the first people descending the newly opened terrain rather than making sure that a member of his safety team was at the top of Billboard to verbally communicate to his patrons dangerous zones that could result in injury or death or, in our case, land you in front of the Silverton judge. Maybe a patroller could have told us that they didn't have time to put ropes up on the right side of Billboard, but no.
Ropes strung along bamboo or an orange and black "closed" sign is proper protocol in Colorado ski patrol as is in most of the world, and that for the 40 minutes of hiking we did to get to the top of Billboard; we encountered ropes with closed signs along the entire hike. These closures were very obvious to any skier and set the tone for our decent. As we "dropped in," one person at a time, we made our way down, very slowly and methodically due to the fact that we were in unfamiliar territory and had not been issued any verbal communications except midway on the hike a patroller yells "the right side is good to go!" After riding about 100 yards down Billboard peak, we traversed through what Silverton Mountain considers a "closure" marked with nothing more than three red sticks of bamboo. Not just in Colorado, but in the rest of the United States and Canada, this type of marking is used to signify a hazard or communicate caution to a skier. As experienced big mountain riders, this is obviously what caused us to enter this forbidden zone. Once we passed the sick, about 25 yards, we just stood there taking in the beauty, smiling while shaking our heads at each other in agreement, snapping some photos and preparing for the main drop. As this is happening, a patroller dressed in regular clothes ski up to us and says, "You guys just fucked up big!" At this point I am confused until I see his radio and his communicating with Aaron stating that he "got us." Once we found out that we had crossed Silverton's vague line of markation, we offered to traverse back the 25 yards to get back in bounds and continue with a good morning. This was our first run! The un-marked patroller says that "it's out of my hands; my boss has made up his mind." But continuously ignored to radio in our request to get back in bounds. Interestingly, the "guide/patroller" who is escorting us down the shoot we were on top of, called "chick flick" and "porn star" (as named by Silverton Mnt.) takes off down the shoot and says, "follow me" as he skis away leaving us where we stand. Now, I am no ski patrol, however, if we are being considered "poachers" at this point, and are in a danger zone which is supposedly why this shoot was closed, then why would this guide/patroller just take off and ski the entire shoot as if he is in an extreme competition. This made me think back to the possibility that he would not radio in our request to simply ski back in bounds because he wanted to ride this pristine shoot that was below him. First tracks, nothing like it, right powder hounds?
Well the ride down was pretty good, however difficult to fully enjoy due to the fact that we had already been informed that the authorities were on their way. I think this is Aaron Brill and Silverton mountain's way of trying to look good in the eyes of the BLM. And, his ego obviously will not accept any mistake, inexperience in guided or un-guided public skiing, or wrongdoing on his part. Once we arrived at the base area, we asked to speak with Aaron since his patrollers were placing all the blame for our dismay on him. He conveniently arrived at the base area about an hour later after we had already been issued a summons to appear in court and realized he that we were not going to leave without forcing him to look into our eyes and honestly declare no wrong doing on his part. I happened to record with my helmet-cam video and audio of many conversations that day which is the evidence to defend our innocence in court.
Silverton Mnt's manager, Jen Brill, stated that they "can't just put ropes all over the mountain for us…" reasons of man-power and overnight weather blowing the ropes around. I find this to be extremely unprofessional safety practice. Even more interesting, I listed to audio of Aaron stating how it's "hard" to put a rope up where we crossed into the forbidden because of rocks. However, that is untrue as well due to the fact that we took a photo of a tri-pod of bamboo erected on sheer rock, holding a rope signifying closed terrain while we were on the hike up. We rode our boards across snow to get to "porn star" and "chic flic." Another great discovery in my research was to find on Silverton's web-site the advertising of "porn star" and "chick flic" as open and to come ride it; before we got there. Monday morning, Silverton's web site advertised that two lucky skiers got to ride chick flic and porn star. Well they must have skied right through our tracks. Coincidentally, the very next weekend of opening, Silverton Mnt. advertised a "BLM gate" allowing riders to enter into the zone we had gotten ticketed for. However, charges against us stand. Aaron fears dropping charges will bring heat from the BLM because that would be admitting faults and possibly making it more difficult to get his beloved permit issued by the BLM to allow over 400 skiers per day. Don't show up on that day unless two runs is enough. Aaron stated that they have things to learn and ate up our input for proper safety and marking terrain like it was ice cream. Once he realized that we were not punk-ass kids trying to poach in front of everyone, yet honest, experienced mountain riders, it was too late. We have to appear in court now because of rash, uncalculated, egotistical, and general poor and lazy mountain safety management.
We can not forget about Aaron and Silverton Mountain continuously blaming BLM guidelines for his decisions to prosecute us. I am glad to hear of the stern regulations put in force by the BLM because one day, someone with less experience could easily and unknowingly penetrate Silverton's inexperienced snow safety team's work and find themselves in more trouble than just dealing with some legal issues.

Aaron Brill called the sheriff's department on us before we even dropped in to "closed" terrain considering us poachers. They brag about the number of people that have been caught. I believe the larger percentage of so-called poachers was not intending to break the law. Silverton Mountain's management is only concerned about getting an unguided skiing permit no matter the expense of others. Is this the kind of ski area that we should have in Colorado; one that accepts no blame for their shortcomings? Aaron Brill bought up a bunch of polluted land, put a chairlift on it, advertises a backcountry powder experience, yet opens and closes terrain like he is herding cows. You may take a run to scout a sweet line and on your way back there, you find that it's closed for the day… to you. Others may still ski it because they are on a "private tour." True backcountry skiers are better off hiking mountains that aren't dictated by an ego-maniac. Aaron Brill and his Silverton Mountain, in my opinion, just ruined a bunch of acres of once soulful backcountry terrain.


Trea Sciortino
Crested Butte, CO

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Old 11-13-2006   #2
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 117
That sucks. But yes, Silverton is quickly getting a reputation for being very poorly managed...or mismanaged. I had a friend who worked there and he spoke of many of the same problems you mention. They need to get their shit together.

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Old 11-13-2006   #3
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 108
The "enter" key, it's your friend. :P Seriously, if you want people to read what you have to say, you need to format it at least minimally. I tried reading that, but got lost a ways in. I'm going to go back and try some more, but...
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Old 11-15-2006   #4
Don't really know
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 6
Bummer. This sort of happened to us. I'll explain.

We were there in March of 2004. We had a good group of healthy skiers and managed to clock in 7 unbelievable runs. But one of them was a nightmare. We had a cute guide and I was hitting on her all day. She was new to the Silverton team and was assigned to our group as her first tour on her own.

We proceeded to get busy and made some unbelievable schralp sessions. On one run though... we picked up some of our other friends from another group and we went to the top together. We proceeded to ski down to the forbidden zone and then hike around the fenced in place and then hike back up the other side of the forbidden zone to get up to some higher ground. We are now on the northern side of the hill that is completely covered in trees. Great tree ski we are being told the whole time and a delightful recommendation by another guide with another group.

We get her instructions and we depart down this run to the designated stopping place. Which she pointed to... the place is covered in trees. Nice. Our new guide lost us and thrashed down that hill taking all the turns that she wanted and having fun all the way down.

I know this as I was a little bit of a bad boy and new that side of the hill from a previous visit. I skied down past the point that she had told the whole group to stop. But within sight range. This place is packed with trees and there are a couple of chutes that are avalanche hazards in the middle. I saw her ski right by the place that she mentioned. At good speed. A little off and to the skiers left of the stopping point. But she must have seen a few people standing there. I could see both parties.

Now being the bad boy that I am... I thought, wrongfully, that it was now a free-for-all and everyone should just go for it. I followed our guide for a few hundred feet... all the while to the east and up hill of her. Being stealthy of course. She screamed down like she was chasing someone to the bottom and went into the chute/avalanche zone.

That is when I stopped. I knew something was up. I waited and began to call the lesser experienced riders and one by one gathered them up. I told them not to go into that chute. Warm, cold, warm cold for several days and good amounts of snow each of the past few days. Also the look of prior slide chunkiness said "no-way". I kept everyone in the trees and we made it to the bottom. It was still a great ski. And we all had a good time. Several of the people, some friends and some not, thanked me for helping "guiding" them down and we all cursed our guide by name. I will leave it out. We crossed the road and saw no truck to pick us up. Our descent took some time. Our guide wasn't even at the bottom.

Finally... here comes the truck. It was packed with another group. As soon as the truck pulls up a couple of other guides proceed to tell us that we are in big trouble. I stepped up to argue and they kept telling us this fact (of being in trouble) the whole way to the base.

We got an ear full from someone at the Base area. Some manager. No court (sorry Bro) and no fines (sorry again). But it really made me feel like shit because I ended up taking charge and doing the right thing. I also saw the whole thing take place. We were led to that area and then abandoned. I never even got to talk to the guide for some kind of argument. We got another guide for the rest of the day. I would have spit in her face god-forbid she lied or something like that with me standing there. I protected their guests. I was temporarily a guide.

Good luck Aaron. You are doing a great job getting what you want on the backs of some good people. I've been hearing this sort of stuff everywhere. Should we call the Forest Service?

I gave that place, and a couple of their workers involved in my scolding, the big ole finger and never went back. I don't talk shit about the place, but it seems that the light is dimming on Silverton Mountain.
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Old 11-16-2006   #5
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 127
I went once and will never give my money again. The organization was poor and what we got for the price was definitely not worth it. I voiced my complaint in writing and also when I came across Aaron at the Avi Jam fundraiser. He shrugged it off and did not even offer an apology. Word has definitely gotten around in some circles because I've voiced my complaints and I've had several similar responses. The passes around there are spectacular. Go ski there they are free and you'll probably log close to the same amount of vert.
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Old 11-16-2006   #6
BastrdSonOfElvis's Avatar
Thought-criminal, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 989
Ditto..never again. Our guide, Chris, was pretty cool and got us the goods to the best of his ability. But there was so much terrain closed to us and it was obvious that it wasn't for any avvy reason. To boot, my buddy dropped his pole off the lift (a gaper thing to do, granted) and not only could we not go down the "lifty" run to get it, it took them two days to get it for us. Hows that for custy service.

The lift saves you some steps but it aint worth it...the cash or the hassel. The "aahhh...you're in big trouble now mister" attitude is way gay. It's a shame..such a cool town and a pretty nice mountain. Maybe they'll go under and it will revert to free bc for all.
I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 11-17-2006   #7
Shit Creek, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 277
Too bad about your experience. I went there with my buddies and we had a great time. There were a few issues, but they were very minimal. It is easy to imagine that there could be big problems, such as yours.

"way gay" could be two things, either very happy or very homosexual. It is idiots such as yourself using "gay" as a derogatory term that really chaps my ass. If you wanna know "way gay", go to Gay Ski Week in Aspen. Perhaps in the rarified air your eyes will open and your brain will clear....
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Old 11-17-2006   #8
Vail, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 334
Urban Dictionary:

gay 4164 up, 588 down

1. jovial or happy, good-spirited

2. a homosexual male or female

3. often used to describe something stupid or unfortunate. originating from homophobia. quite preferable among many teenage males in order to buff up their "masculinity"

g.a.y. 16 thumbs up

stands for green and yellow.

examples of g.a.y.:
ex 1- my favorite colors are gay.
ex 2- john deere tractors are gay.
ex 3- green bay packer uniforms are gay.
ex 4- im gonna re paint my gay room.
ex 5- your shirt is gay.
ex 6- a lot of flowers are gay. daisies are a good example of gay flowers.
ex 7- lance bass is gay.
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Old 11-17-2006   #9
BastrdSonOfElvis's Avatar
Thought-criminal, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 989
Hey Powdahound...quit being so gay.

It sounds like maybe your ass was chapped before me...but I could care less if you pack fudge or whatever. Really, I have no problem with your sexuality or anyone's for that matter. It's not like I coined the phrase or anything. Stevezy came in with the def off the web. To me, being gay has no negative connotation. I do use the expression in the parlance of our times and it does get across the point that I am unsatisfied with my trip to Silverton Mtn. I could have used another word: lame, whack, bunk, bogus (big Bill n Ted fan) etc ad nauseum. It's only a matter of semantics. I arbitrarily chose gay. Don't get your little girl's panties in a wad.

In fact, I think gay people are great. Doogie Howser just came out...I dug his show the most. Queen. The Village People. Churchill. Liberace. The list goes on forever

Seriously though, are we that sensative now? Grow some skin.

"You know how I know you're gay?"
"No, how."
"Because you shave your asshole."

"You know how I know you're gay?"
"No, how."
"You shaved my asshole." --40 year old virgin
I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 11-17-2006   #10
Don't really know
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 6
OK everyone. Please let's not loose sight. Let's not turn this valuable discussion into something that it isn't. Let's not forget that we started talking about a backcountry ski area that is seemingly getting everything that it needs from our government agencies to move forward. All the while providing a service that is not professional. And doing others "things" that are in serious question, or would be in question in other parts of the globe.

I know lots of individuals that would die, and some that die a little every day, chasing and fighting the dream that Aaron Brill has undertaken. He is a permittee of our National Forests. This means that those lands, with exception of the lands that he owns, are ours and he has done things that some people feel are in error. He could, and probably should, face serious scrutiny from his local Forest Service office or an office that will make a stink about him cleaning up his act.

Let's not rule out Karma either. I bet you will see a piece in a magazine about his lack of respect for his patrons and supporters.

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