Every month, we’re featuring two fantastic Silverton guides at the ski area so you can get to know what makes them so awesome and why they devote their winters to showing you the best terrain in Colorado and beyond.
For March, we’re recognizing John Shocklee and Maria Kallman. These two guides have nearly seen it all over the years, and know how to show every guest in their respective groups a good time, every day of the season. Read on to find out why they keep coming back to the steepest and deepest terrain in Colorado every season.
How long have you worked at Silverton Mountain? I have been guiding for the last 15 seasons.
What do you love about Silverton Mountain? I love being able to ski it every day. This is my version of a ski pass, being able to work and ski at this ski area as much as I want. It would be hard to imagine a better place.
What is your favorite thing about skiing? I love skiing so much because… well, for so many reasons. It’s the freedom of being able to freefall in control. Especially the feeling of floating in powder on a steep pitch. I also love being able to go places in the winter that are more difficult to access in the summer. The only thing that would come close is riding a mountain bike off-trail, but everywhere you ride has the smooth consistency of a trail. It’s hard to describe, but it’s just an amazing feeling.
Is there a particular reason you became a professional guide? I got it into my head that guiding would be a way better profession than sitting behind a desk all day. I knew I wanted to be outside, using my body for work. Guiding has evolved into a primary skill of mine. I first discovered this while being a river guide. It took a little while to adjust to not having complete control of guests in a boat compared to the freedom that comes with skiing, but learning how to hand this made me a better guide on snow and on water..
What is your go to gear? Fat K2 skis with telemark bindings are a given. Dakine packs have always treated me well, and so have Smith goggles and shades. In fact, I just got my Smith Pivlock Overdrives adjusted for my prescription.
Describe your favorite memory of Silverton Mountain. There are so many good ones. Being able to ski Two Smokes making two turns is a fantasy for many, but I’ve been able to do it twice [Note: Two Smokes is a notoriously sketchy run that usually involves a rope and very careful descents]. Once was when I was escorting 23 pro athletes during the Red Bull Cold Rush. I remember making two turns through the choke, and looking back and seeing all these amazing pro athletes making airs into the run. It was a sight to see.
How long have you worked at Silverton Mountain? This is my 8th year with Silverton Mountain, and my 7th year guiding. This is my 4th season part-time, as I am also a Physician Assistant in the emergency department in Grand Junction.
What do you love about Silverton Mountain? I love facilitating challenging, eye opening, FUN outdoor experiences for people in the spectacular San Juan mountains. The dynamic nature of the guiding requires critical thinking and maximal situational awareness at all times due to countless changing variables including snow, weather, and terrain nuances that take a lifetime to learn, plus the group dynamics, skier abilities, and physical challenge. Above all, what keeps me coming back each year is the team I work with, what I consider to be the Silverton mountain family.
My favorite thing about skiing at Silverton mountain is the lack of pressure to “get the good snow before it’s gone.” Nobody’s throwing elbows in the lift line, or trying to breathe down your neck on the bootpack.
What is your favorite thing about skiing? How else would we experience the beautiful exhilarating winter mountain environment? Skis allow us to move around an otherwise impenetrable environment with such ease and speed. And the feeling of flying…
Describe your favorite memory of Silverton Mountain. I have too many great memories to pick a favorite, but just last weekend I was on the bootpack near Ropedee 2 and came upon a flock of ptarmigans. Then, on literally the same run skiing out the road on the backside I scared off a coyote. Where else do you get to see wildlife like that at a ski area?