Don't get caught in Silverton Mt.'s Smokescreen for the BLM - Mountain Buzz

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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 12-20-2006   #2
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 1
Sorry to say it doesn't surprise me

I had a bad experience but nothing like you. It is sad to say but I can see Aaron doing exactly what you describe without the slightest twinge of remorse. I love the concept and what they are trying to do but Aaron's personality kills all the charm of the place for me.

If you are curious about my experience it is on the following page:
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Old 12-21-2006   #3
Red Lodge, Montana
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 73
wasn't this same post on here last year?
Nate Dogg
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Old 12-21-2006   #4
The next zone, .
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,200
Wow you must be pissed! Will we get this re-posted every couple of months until spring?

If you want more press for post try a ttt.
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Old 12-27-2006   #5
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 85
This is awesome. You guys are by far the biggest the choads I have ever heard of. I have heard of numerous bad incidents at Silverton, and actually bothered to sift through all the crap at the TGR site. It turns out you are a bunch of prepubescent schoolboys. The pics posted by Silverton actually match the ones you posted. Then you don't even bother to counter the fact that every person seems to agree the singage was more than adequate. Are you freakin' retarted? (Not special, the politically correct term). You are the reason for lawsuits and all the other BS that Silverton and other ski areas have to deal with. I think it is people like you that are part of the reason that lift tickets are approaching $80. 3Trea you SUCK. I hope I never meet you and I hope anyone that does whips you with a ski pole, or if Chunderboy is reading this above, I hope he arranges for an AT paddle to be shoved up your ass. Go away 3Trea, take some repsonsibility for youreself and stop skiing or riding. You are a liability for everyone involved in the sport.
Yours Truly,
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Old 12-30-2006   #6
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steamboat springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 93
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 200
billyd, i am reading this and i don't see where anyone posted any pictures here. what are you talking about? have been talking with a friend about going to silverton, he seemed to think that it is all still guided skiing. are they allowing people to go by themselves, or is it guided?
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Old 01-01-2007   #7
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 85
Hey RHM,
Pics were all on the TGR site. I feel kind of bad with the somewhat heated post, but these guys seem to be way off base. They poached and got caught and tried to blame everyone but themselves. You could do a search on the TGR site and find it, or search here and the old post on the same subject has a link. Anyway, I have only been to Silverton once and it was guided. It took some patience and a bit of ass kissing, but we had a good time. I have heard a bunch of good and bad. Definatley some big egos down there. I think they deal with some dumb asses though. As far as the unguided, I have not been, but its got to be good. Looks like unguided is only till Jan 14 then again after April 5. If you can make it I would go. No matter what pretty cool experience, with some great terrain guided and unguided.
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Old 01-10-2007   #8
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 71
Four of us went to Silverton over New Years this year - all snowboarders. We spent 1st day unguided, 2nd guided, and 3rd unguided again. We all had a great time. If you are into quality, not quantity, you will likely have a sweet time. We all got 3-5 runs in / day and were very happy with this. They had not been snowed on for a while and we still found fresh stashes. The guided day was well worth it and our guide was awesome. The guides are there to show you around the mountain and he definately did this. They are not going to hold your hand- it is up to you to get thru the day and decide whether to go back up. YOu get more access if you go guided during the optional unguided time of year (which makes sense to me... you are paying a bit more for them to show you a good time). I felt like things were clearly marked (it says in the paperwork they give you when you arrive that closed sections may be marked by poles). It is a very casual atmosphere and "resort" which is what I liked.
I could see it not being your "scene" if you are full on back country guru. If you are, you dont need to go somwhere like this to have a great day cuz you can go anywhere (even though anyone who enjoys the outdoors should have a great day everyday).
I am not refuting the other posts about what happened to them. I am just giving my 2 cents on my experience. I will go back... hopefully after they get dumped on.
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Old 01-15-2007   #9
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Lakewood, Colorasta
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 843
I just got back from Silverton and it was sick. We did unguided both days due to the fact that winds were high and vis was poor. Not much of the mountain was open due to the high winds and mass amounts of snow. We stuck to the trees, did very little hiking and bagged some of the sickest glade skiing in Colorado. 1900 feet of steep trees, waist deep pow and good vibes was the mantra for the day

The first day we got three runs and the second we got 4. If high winds hadn't closed the area prematurely both days, there is no reason why we shouldn't have gotten 6-7 runs each day. Remember. . . this was a full on brutally windy snow day so the best strategy was to get off the ridge as soon as humanly possible. If it was calm and alot of hiking was happening you might only get 4 due to the fact that some of the shots require a hike out and a shuttle ride back to the lift.

I don't know about everyone else, but I think its a kick ass operation. A little sketchy, but kick ass if your willing to take the risk. Everyone was cool. Didn't notice any attitudes. People seemed fairly genuine. I think everyone comes in with some sort of expectations about what Silverton should be. Unfortunately you just got to take it for what it is. Its really friggin steep, everything is super loaded (especially on windy pow days), the chair is slow and old to say the least. Everything you've planned on hitting for the last two days, weeks, months might not be open or it could be tracked out. If thats the case, either your bummed or you find something else that's in and rip balls.

I think to fully experience Silverton you got to plan on making multiple trips. If I could, I'd go back next weekend. The seven laps that we did in two days just started to get the juices flowing. I can't wait to go back in spring and do some hiking and really get into some sick stuff.

BTW, go guided if you can. You'll hit all the money runs before the unguided skies do. I definately wished we had done that the second day. Eventhough its cool not dealing with the hassles of a guide, you get preferential treatment.

just my opinion
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Old 01-16-2007   #10
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 31
I said this over at the TGR site and I will say it again. You people fucking suck. I cant believe you are still bitching about your little incident. You were proven wrong over on the TGR boards and you should just accept it. Why would you need to post this shit again. You broke the rules, you didnt read the rules and you got caught. I am so glad you have no snow in the "Butte" because assholes like you dont deserve powder, go move back east and shut the fuck up.

Quit trying to make it hard for a really cool endeavor to get some good press. Silverton is such a cool grass roots concept and you are trying to shit on it because you fucked up. Fucking LOSERS!!
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