After a day at Telluride, Marc and I are warmed up for Silverton. With one
lift and all "expert only" trails, this promised to be a fun place to ski.
Add in experienced guides to lead you to the secret stashes of untouched
powder and you have quite an experience. With the incredible scenery and
perfect weather, you couldn't ask for much more.
At the "lodge" at the base of the mountain--by lodge, I mean the oversized
tent that is kept slightly above freezing by an old wood-burning stove.
The trained rescue dogs were great.

The lift, as we await assignment to a guide. It was interesting the way
they operated the lift. Basically they just kept it stopped most of the
day and just started it up when a group needed to get back to the top.
With only about 50 people skiing you can do stuff like that.

Forming groups of 8 skiers plus 1 guide. We got lucky and two people
didn't show so we had a group of 7.

Heading up the lift. "If you look up under the lift and don't feel
comfortable skiing that, you might want to consider not skiing with us today."

Nearing the top. I knew there would be some hiking involved here, but I
wasn't sure how much. The group ahead of us heads up the ridge to higher

At the top we see the hike ahead of us. At 12,000+ feet elevation I was
not looking forward to this.

After hiking up and then traversing over to the second ridge on the front
side, we started down. Marc makes some turns near the top of our first run.

Coming down through the fresh powder (more than a week after the last
decent snowfall) near the bottom.
(AVI, MPEG movie)

Back to the top for round 2.

This time we headed over to the backside. To the upper-right is the ridge
we hiked up from the lift, farther to the right is the front side, and to
the left is the backside.

Fresh snow awaits us.

Getting our gear in order for the descent.

Enjoying the view from the top while we wait.

Marc heading down from the ridge.
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A brief clip showing the impressive peaks surrounding us.
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On our way down, we had to go around old miners' claims. As you might
guess from the name, Silverton was originally a mining town. It seems some
people still think there's potential for mining on Silverton Mountain. In
any case, it meant we couldn't trespass, so we did some manuvering to stay
off their claims.

Below the claim, we're ready to dive down our first chute. It felt really
steep, and I later confirmed with our guide that it was "about 38 degrees".

Looking down to the valley floor below.

Marc heading down. The lip where he pauses before dropping down was caused
by a recent avalanche. You just never know when they'll strike.
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The snow was great, but you definitely had some obstacles to deal with.

Back to the good stuff.

We switched over to another chute partway down. This was the crux of the
descent. There was a patch of steep icy rock in the middle of this chute.
Marc looks up at Kevin, just above and left of it, as I wait my turn above.

Backing my way down over the rocks. It was so narrow that my board got
wedged between the two sides of the chute at one point and I had to slide
it free. A bit precarious, but we all made it down slowly and safely.

Ready to continue down.

The bottom was great -- wide open cruising on deep fresh powder. A video
of me through the sparse trees.
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Heading back up the lift, looking over to the second ridge where we did our
first run.

For run #3 we headed to the front side and traversed the other way. After
heading around another mining claim we traversed farther and then hiked
back up again. Unlike the long but relative gentle hike early in the
morning, this hike was basically straight up the side of the mountain. It
was shorter but more strenuous.

The run ("Colorado") was great, though, so it was worth the pain. Marc
heads through the powder at the top.
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A little farther down. The snow got progressively harder as we neared the
bottom and more tracks fed into the gulley.
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Catching my breath after a nice run.

Marc playing in the trees, with Scott in the foreground.
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Marc again.

The view up Colorado. Marc is hiding in there somewhere.

There he is.

From here on down it was pretty skied up and hard, but there were some
patches of powder near the bottom again.

Looking up from the bottom of the trail.

Looking up from the road as we head back to the lift for one more run.

How did the dog get up here? Apparently they're trained to ride the lifts.

For our final run, we headed toward "Colorado", but headed down instead of
hiking up again. What a relief.

Being the final run, I thought I'd have some fun and use a small tree as
a jump. Marc agreed to get a picture of this great air. As it turned out
the tree (upper right) was small but pretty solid, and managed to flip me
upside down.

Collecting my stuff, and a piece of the now-1-foot-shorter tree.

Kevin, ready for some afternoon action, as Scott looks down at the slope.

Kevin traversing to the good stuff.

Kevin and Scott heading into the woods for fresh powder.

People disappeared two at a time into the trees and occasionally we'd hear
a shout from below for the next two to start.

The scenery was great in all directions. Just point the camera and shoot.

Marc heading down.
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Back to the base. In addition to the lodge/tent, there was a rental shop
where we rented our avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel.

The group: Andre, me, Marc, Kevin, Bill (our guide), Alex, and Scott.

DAY #2
Our guide John gave us every bit of confidence that he knew what he was
doing out here. He had icicles in his beard in the morning, a sure sign of
a mountain man.

He took us to the same area where we ended the previous day. Our first run
consisted of steep, deep powder with lots of trees. Looking across the
valley from the top of the run, we see more of the same.

Marc weaving through the trees.
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My turn to cruise on a short open stretch.
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Pablo on his way down.

Pablo heading toward me.

Our second run with John was "Colorado". There's nothing like a good hike
in the morning to warm up your toes. The view over the back side was
impressive as always.

Looking back the other way as we prepare to head down. We went a bit
farther right than we did yesterday, and found some truly untracked powder
to play in. We stayed right through the trees for awhile, but eventually
cut back and skied out the same basic path to the bottom.

Time for some much needed food. Marc and I got the "catered" lunch from
the mountain. I thought it would be a hot burger or something that I
couldn't pack myself. Unfortunately, it was just a sandwich and some
snacks. Next time I'll just pack my own.

Our third run was less than impressive. It was basically the same as our
first run from the first day. A good amount of hiking and traversing...

...followed by a ridge descent...

...and then some really nice powder. The powder was great, but didn't last
long enough. Just after this was a long section of hard, crusty, skied-up
snow that led back to the road.

This sign seemed out of place somehow. I mean there's no road there, so
how can there be a "dead end?" Or is that why it's a dead end, because
there is *no road*? I guess you had to be there.

Riding back to the lift in one of the many different interesting shuttle
vehicles -- this time, the back of a pickup. Marc, Doug, Scott, Jake(?),
Pablo, me, and part of Andre, as Mike snaps the picture.

A view of the base lodge.

A view of the entire base community -- the lodge and rental store.

For the final run, we had a long hike ahead of us. We took the trail along
the ridge all the way up and dropped into the back side on "Rope-a-Dope".
At the end of the third consecutive day of skiing, I'm finally adjusting to
the altitude, but I'm just too generally tired to be ready for this hike.

I brought my backpack with the snowboard straps, but it ended up being easy
enough just carrying my board under my arm when we hiked. The pack was
useful, though, since Marc could strap his skis to it. It worked great,
but somehow it just seemed wrong.

Half an hour later, we're at the top, looking back down at the top of the
lift and the ridge we ascended.

We had some time to kill until the group ahead of us cleared out.

This area was really a beautiful place to be held up for awhile. According
to our guide, John, the world speed record for skiing was set by skiers who
headed straight down starting just below the rocky section in the shadow.
They didn't stop until they reached the valley floor below.

The path that awaits us, as soon as the other group clears out.

Getting ready to descend.

Doug ready to go.

Still's getting cold now as the sun dips lower.

Looking back along the way we came up.

OK, now it's time to head down. John points the way down as we all stand
poised and cold.

After an initial drop that was part powder but mostly debris, our second
stretch was a great, wide-open powder run. Marc puts the Pocket Rockets
to good use.
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Marc and Doug, ready for the final descent to the valley below.

A movie of Doug and me (Doug ahead, me trailing) on the final descent.
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