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Discussion Starter #1
Me and a few buddies are talking about putting together a trip to Silverton Mountain (as well as a couple other spots down that way), and am curious as to what peoples experiences have been riding at Silverton Mountain?

As riders I'd say were advanced-intermediate, with multiple snowcat trips under our belts.

I get the impression that some of the earlier (and more negative) opinions of the place were based on the early years when Silverton had not quite fleshed out it's operation.

So how was it? the good, the bad, the mediocre, the annoying.

thanks.
 

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My recommendation is to attend the bootpackin days to see and learn about the mountain. you get free lift tickets depending on how many days you attend. Then use those freebies on an unguided thurs. (opening day)- after a mon.-wed. storm.

things might have changed, but thats what i used to do.
 

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I've gone guided twice and probably would only try the unguided if I go back. I know they have to but the snow farming is annoying. I saw killer terrain all around that we were not able to go on. Since I spend time in the BC it is hard for me to be guided/ controlled without being annoyed. I would recommend checking it out for yourself, it is pretty fun and your only risking $100+ I "got lost" for one run and had one of the best runs of my life. Seemed like 50 pillow drops in a row thru trees. The stuff dreams are made of.
 

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I've only been once, but I can say if you go guided, make sure you get in a good group. My friend and I put ourselves in a slow hiking group because we didn't want to hold up the badasses. Instead, we outhiked our whole group by a long shot and were denied a trip to the billboard because of some dude that was "there to ski, not hike." Try to take enough friends to make your own group (as long as you're all similarly fit and ability).

Terrain is awesome, snow was mediocre when we were there, guide was pretty good, we had no issues with the farming thing; our guide made sure we got fresh lines on every run. It was fun but I wouldn't do the guided deal again.
 

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I'm an intermediate/advanced snowboarder. I have mostly ridden resorts... a lot of time on good steep resort stuff. Tina and I went two years ago for New Years with the Wigstons and had a great time. We went a day early so did unguided on day one. The lift is awesomely scary with beautiful views, and everything is steep. We kind of just made our way down and figured out the mountain... a simple ridge line layout with a long traverse out at the bottom. We formed our own group of eight snowboarders and requested a snowboard guide. He took us past the ropes at some point on every run that day, and our first run of the day is currently my best ever. By the afternoon or the next day those places were opened to unguided. We spent a 3rd day unguided again. In 3 days I only managed to do 4 runs per day, and was satisfied and spent. The snow was okay, but like a resort it gets tracked out. Having our own group and being on our own pace was key. We spent tons of time kind of just exploring and slowly venturing into untouched fields with sunny skies, and yet our pace would have been many more runs and shorter hikes/breaks if it were a powder day. A powder day of unguided would be legendary IMO now that I know more of the mountain.

If you are coming from the backcountry then I think you can be disappointed in the resort like conditions and limitations. If you are coming from the resort and/or sidecountry, then Silverton will be a fantastic time. And when it comes to guided, it's all about the company you are with.
 

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If you are coming from the backcountry then I think you can be disappointed in the resort like conditions and limitations. If you are coming from the resort and/or sidecountry, then Silverton will be a fantastic time. And when it comes to guided, it's all about the company you are with.
^^^ Cutch pretty much nails it.

I'll ad my $.02

Unguided is sweet but can be way too crowded in the spring and early season is unpredictable.

Bootpacking is 50/50.... depending on who you get/the area you're in, it can be a LOT of work and very little skiing, or a little work and quite a bit of skiing. I personally have a hard time justifying working my ass off at 11,000' for the equivalent of $7 an hour.

Guided is just too pricey and way too much turn farming goes on IMO. For a few bucks more, I'd MUCH rather go cat skiing. Or just hike across the road for free.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Interesting info, thanks.

What is "snow farming"? Never heard that expression before.

And how much time while you were there was spent hiking?
 

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snow/turn farming is where the guide will ski a line and everybody in the group has to stay on one side of the line, leaving the rest of the slope fresh for other groups.

Unless it snowed the night before, plan on hiking 10-30 mins each run
 

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...other spots down that way...

Me and a few buddies are talking about putting together a trip to Silverton Mountain (as well as a couple other spots down that way), ...

And Storm11 wrote: "For a few bucks more, I'd MUCH rather go cat skiing."

Backcountry skiing in the San Juans is spectacular. Leave yourself a couple of days to do so. I'm with Storm11. I'd MUCH rather go catskiing when in this area. Over the last ten years I've been out with the San Juan Ski Company's cats eight times or so. It has the largest amount and most varied terrain in the area. And they often have deals in conjunction with Silverton Mt.
 

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Go Heli, cat or backcountry. I've done unguided and it was OK. We didn't get to hike becasue it was dumpin. Bombs going off everywhere. Chairlift is sketchy at best. Terrain is great but winds can shut er down in a heart beat. In two days we got 6 rides. I'm going HELI and cat this year. Lots of GAPERS yard selling it in the runnouts. Almost plowed over a few of em. They were not happy. . .
 

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I went once around 2005. It was the eve of a huge dump, there were untouched bowls, and the guide we had took us to crud slopes or had us spooning tracks in narrow lines. If the powder is not for the paying guests up there that day, who are they saving it for? I will not go back there. If you do not ski the backcountry on your own it can be a great experience i've heard.
 

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skiied unguided 4 times here. never had a bad time. i don't think they are snow-farming. they are keeping you safe. the mountain is only open 3 days a week and doesnt get ridden enough to need to do that. closing down slopes as av conditions worsen is what has to be done for this place to be open. yes there are gapers, and no we don't want them dying. hence what people are calling snow farming. i don't think half the people skiing there even know how to use the beacon/probe that is required.

the four times ive skiied there (twice in 06, twice in 07) there was maybe 40 people tops on the mountain. two days of face shots, one day of incredible corn skiing, and one day of kinda crappy conditions but i was working a beer fest and skiing for free so i was fine with it.

the one bad experience i had was when it had snowed like 2-3 feet the week before, and it was the year purgatory was giving season pass holders 2 free unguided days at silverton. i showed up to a line of like 300 people. waited in line for an hour and a half to get a lift ticket, moved about halfway up the line before freaking out that the lift line would be just as long, then bailed and skiied some backcountry. that was a shitty morning and i was glad i skiied where i did. probably had better coinditions anyways.

my advice- ski it, then spend a coupkle days in the backcountry around there if the conditions are right.
 

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skiied unguided 4 times here. never had a bad time. i don't think they are snow-farming. they are keeping you safe. the mountain is only open 3 days a week and doesnt get ridden enough to need to do that. closing down slopes as av conditions worsen is what has to be done for this place to be open. yes there are gapers, and no we don't want them dying. hence what people are calling snow farming. i don't think half the people skiing there even know how to use the beacon/probe that is required.

the four times ive skiied there (twice in 06, twice in 07) there was maybe 40 people tops on the mountain. two days of face shots, one day of incredible corn skiing, and one day of kinda crappy conditions but i was working a beer fest and skiing for free so i was fine with it.

the one bad experience i had was when it had snowed like 2-3 feet the week before, and it was the year purgatory was giving season pass holders 2 free unguided days at silverton. i showed up to a line of like 300 people. waited in line for an hour and a half to get a lift ticket, moved about halfway up the line before freaking out that the lift line would be just as long, then bailed and skiied some backcountry. that was a shitty morning and i was glad i skiied where i did. probably had better coinditions anyways.

my advice- ski it, then spend a coupkle days in the backcountry around there if the conditions are right.
Drengel, when we were there they were absolutely farming the snow. The guide would ski and tell us to stay right/left of his tracks. This is the common way guides work. The problem was he would give us about 30 yards between his track and the skied terrain and expect eight clients to spoon their turns in that space. I do not like being constrained like that. My turns alone could be 30 yards across. Conditions were stable and their were whole bowls of the same aspect left untracked while group after group sequentially tracked up turns in a few lines. I'd be ok with farming if a huge storm was not coming that same night.

Since that trip Silverton has opened their terrain to unguided skiing, which could be fun. I ski too much in the backcountry to need to go back to the Silverton resort when I have a sled for access to remote areas. I ride in, park it and start skinning.
 

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word. i see what you're talking about now. never skiied with a guide anywhere ever before. had a friend that got chewed out by the guide for taking huge wide turns at silverton. i will say that i attempt to control my lines anywhere i ski thats a big open slope just to try to preserve the snow for everyone else but i have heard the guides are kinda nazi-ish about it. backcountry is where its at if you live in the san juans. wish i had a sled...
 

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Silverton ROCKS!

Skied a few days guided there, before the unguided option. Went with a large group of rippers, all with back country, heli and snowcat experience. We had a blast, despite mediocre conditions.
Guide was cool...we puffed tough, with no issues. Were not forced to stack turns too painfully.
Our very experienced group of rippers was able to ski a large variety of runs, with a few good pucker-factor lines.

Be sure to get in a good group of people who can hike...as stated above. If you have a good group, you will have a killer day!

And DEFINITELY plan extra days for BC or Cat options.

HIGHLY recommended:!:
 

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Silverton is pretty sick if you hit it when there is good snow, but not alot of avy danger. I have done the boot packing twice, which gave guided days and the last couple of years we have done the unguided.

Unfortunately, they do snow farm. It is hard to prove it, but my personal take is that they will close runs just to preserve for guided clients. As for keeping the turns tight, I would have to say it has gotten relaxed as unguided has become more popular.

One of the last trips, we had two cars coming up in a snow storm. We made it through the gates outside Ouray while the 2nd car got turned around only 30 minutes behind. Both passes were closed for the next day and half and the skiing was epic, albeit, the mountain opened quite late.

If you do go, make sure you obey the closed runs... you will get arrested. They have a no tolerance policy and it is possible to end up on a closed run without crossing a rope so know where you are going. Lest you end up like my friends.

anyway, we do it every year. It is just awesome being up there, drinking at the VFW, and skiing some steep terrain.
 

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not trying to piss you off but c'mon?????

I don't know of any mountain where you don't need to hike to get untracked freshies!?!? or any mountain where you can get untracked each run? even Loveland of all places now last a day at best for catching fresh turns!

In any case if you want fresh trax with no effort buck up the dineros and Heli or snow -cat ...otherwise stay home and save your scratch!

by the way most snowcat and heli ops are farming also! except in BC in my experience mostly because they have such vast terrain. When you are in business and have a small supply and large demand you can charge more obviously but you also want to maximize the use of your supply thus snow farming! if you don't like that? try and open up your own similar company and 1. make people happy and 2. fill your pocket with green backs
dont want limitations don't EVER be guided!!

one more thing... at most CO and UT resorts there is sick terrain that is often closed and sometimes permamnantly closed....usually for good reason other times because the resort not willing to take the risks!!! these guys are taking those risks be thankfukl for that and just ski!!!!!

NOPE i have never been there too far maybe this year if time and snow permit?
 

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Acknowledging that it exists and and that it isn't an optimal situation for the selfish, doesn't mean that it isn't understood.

I know where to ski untracked all day long at resorts, no hiking or minimal hiking.
 

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Brettb, I think I said I was ok with farming the snow, just not on the night before a huge dump, and not to the extent that all people have to make the same turns to avoid crossing tracks (spooning). They had bowl after bowl untracked as we skied crud or narrow shots of pow. I'll take the advice about never being guided though. With my sled and skins I can ski any shot I want if I think its safe and not see a soul. If someone does not ski bc though, I can see the area having appeal. You will have good skiing. I just do not like having a "guide" whose job is to tell you where not to ski instead of taking me to the goods.
 

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Silverton should be awesome. They have minimal skier visits, awesome terrain, and great snow. However, my experience there was less than awesome. I think a better description would be Frustrating.

Our group was a solid team of rippers…except for the “guide-in-training” that they stuck in our group who couldn’t ride at all. Our “guide” was a pain in ass with all his powder farming demands….only giving a group of 8 about 10 feet of powder each run. At one point, he threatened to call the local sheriff on us because the #8 rider went outside the linebecause he wanted a couple decent turns…what a dick!

Powder was simply everywhere, and our “guide” had us hiking 30 minutes to frozen corn. The lines right under the lift were better than what we were getting. When questioned about his tactics, our “guide” explained to us that the powder under the lift was “reserved” for the lift operators. Another painful tactic to slow us down was his practice of only allowing us to make about 5 turns and then stopping the entire group. Are you kidding me? What a joke.

Total runs for the day was a less than adequate 4 runs. I heard unguided is better, but I will never spend my precious time and hard earned money at place ever again. I can get a better experience at Berthoud Pass and save a couple hundred bucks.
 
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