Ski blog: Silverton chutes, ‘powderlicious’, p.3
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” After shredding in Telluride, the crew descends upon the epic slopes of Silverton. But first, the gang must traverse the treacherous Red Mountain Pass between Ouray and Silverton.
After driving for 2 hours on snowpacked roads, we started heading back toward the San Juans. It was a little strange we were driving directly back to the same place we had just come from, but atleast I can chalk it up as one more place in Colorado that I have seen.
We drove through Durango and up and over Coal Bank and Molas passes. After about 4 hours total of driving we could finally see the lights of our intended destination. Silverton. As we wound down the road into Silverton we couldn’t wait to see what the mountain would have to offer the next morning.
We arrived at the Triangle Motel on Main Street in downtown Silverton. The accomodations weren’t overly lavish, but sufficient for our needs. Our room even had a kithcen in it so we could cook up our own food for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. After dinner we headed down to the only bar that was open in town: The Miner.
There were a handful of Silverton locals and few other guys who were also heading to the mountain the next morning. The bar definitely had that old saloon feel to it. They had several pool tables, a stage in the far back of the bar and a couple of CD
jukeboxes. We had a few beers at The Miner that night then headed home to
get some sleep so we were ready to ride early the next morning.
Early that morning, we headed out to Silverton. It is about a 20-minute drive up the north side of town down an old mining road. The road is completely snowpacked and caution should be taken, because if you do get two wheels off the road they will sink completely and your car/SUV will be stuck on its frame. When we arrived at the mountain we geared up and headed up to the yurt/chalet to check in. We got our lift tickets quickly and found it was kind of a hurry up and wait scenario. We found that there were a few ski patrol up top, but high winds prevented them from opening the chairlift on time.
We sat in the yurt and kept warm until about 11:30 when they finally opened the chairlift. After the guided skiers were taken up, the unguided riders were allowed to load. The chair was running at about half speed so it took about 20 to 25 minutes to reach the top. Once we were up there we headed over to a set of lines called Tiger #1-#5. These are a set of chutes that lead down into Tiger gully. The chutes had been ridden a bit the day before, but there was still plenty of fresh for us to slice through.
My friend Davey dropped into Tiger #3. I could hear him yelling with excitement from the steeps and waist deep powder. I dropped next down Tiger #4. I was greeted with waist deep freshness with faceshots on every turn. I stopped near the bottom of the chute to watch my friend Steve enjoy his line through powderlicious goodness.
We all met up and continued down Tiger to see what was next on the menu. We kept on the high side of the right side of the chutes and continued to find freshness in the trees.
As we exited the trees, we found ourselves in Tiger Gully, which was completely untracked except for the two Ski patrollers tracks that had gone down it earlier that day. None of us could contain our excitement and we charged the open powder field like rabid dogs, devouring what we could. We all cruised down to the bottom where
a small log bridge was made to cross the creek. There we waited for the bread delivery truck to come and pick us up at the bus stop to bring us back to the lift.
Due to the fact that there was such a ridiculous amount of snow, they didn’t end up opening any more new terrrain. We lapped Tiger Gully, some of the trees near the lift line, and one run down the Colorado Chute and decided to call it day. All in all the drive was worth it. No one was complaining as we left the mountain.
RED MOUNTAIN PASS:
So we stated heading down the road away from Silverton and on the last turn out of the mining road were two SUVs that had been driving too fast and had both slid into the same snowbank and appeared to be very stuck. We offered to call a tow truck for them once we got to town so we stopped by a gas station, let them know the situation and then headed out.
Red Mountain Pass had opened the night before so we headed out onto the windy, legendary Million Dollar Highway over the pass. This is a 24 mile pass and the terrain changes several times during the drive. At first the mountain is on your right, with large cliffs to your left, then you cross back over with the mountain on your left and cliffs on your right.
There are so many spots where I swear the car was just crawling. They should have
spent another million dollars on some side rails for that road because there are very few and some drops are over 1,000 ft. Along the drive you encounter many signs that indicate double switchbacks which are complete 180 degree turns down this steep mountain. A little bit nerve racking to say the least.
Nonetheless, after about an hour of driving this hairy terrain, we were back in Ouray. Here we stopped for a dip in the hot springs and relaxed for a few minutes before our four-hour trip back to Vail.
Another successful road trip under our belts. It’s hard to beat a weekend of sick powder, hairy mountain pass driving, good friends, and a few beers. I can’t wait ’til our next powder adventure!
Check out photos from the Silverton: http://picasaweb.google.com/slarsonvail/Silverton_Telluride2008