Gettin' to the ridge is top priority at Silverton. (Silverton/Facebook)
You’d expect the offseason around Silverton Mountain to be more about tourist trains, wilderness backpacking and RV touring than on-the-snow news. But the summer of 2017 has been busy time for the powder-only ski and snowboard area tucked into a crease of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.
Not only is there more to do on the mountain; season pass and exchange programs have expanded, too. After months of negotiations with the feds, “all thrills no frills,” one-chairlift Silverton Mountain swapped land to increase its heli-skiing terrain to nearly 25,000 acres – a good portion of which is below tree line where mountain managers say the avalanche danger and wind exposure is what some people have asked for. The permit with BLM is good for five years but puts a 600-rider-per-day cap on the activity. It also defines no-fly zones around the town of Silverton.
Grouse Gulch, Cinnamon, Houghton, Poughkeepsie and Ross basins were removed from Silverton Guides’ recreation permit, and Illinois/Hancock, Southeast, Round and Minnie/Maggie gulches were added in the trade.
On the ticket front, Silverton has added the Unguided Pass for $149 the late season. While during most of the Thursday-Sunday weeks a guide is required for all skiers and snowboarders, the mountain opens itself up to unlimited unguided trips for the last two weeks of the year.
The new pass includes a private day on the mountain for all passholders, half-price heli-skiing, and exchange days with Homewood, Powder Mountain, Snow King Mountain, Sunlight Mountain Resort, and Powderhorn Mountain Resort.
Those same resorts – plus Monarch, Eaglecrest, Mission Ridge, Sundance, Smugglers Notch and Brundage – accept the Unguided Pass and the Silverton Gold Pass holders for days of free skiing and riding. Plus, passholders at these resorts get reciprocal access to Silverton for limited days.