Updated: March 19, 2020
Dear Friends of Silverton,
Things continue to change by the hour each day. As you know Saturday night(3/14/20) the Governor closed all Ski Resorts in Colorado. Our interpretation of the Governor’s order Saturday night was that it only applied to “Ski Resorts”. Silverton isn’t a resort by any means and operates as an outfitter and guide operation much of the time. The Governor’s closure order was specifically limited to “Ski Resorts”, and there is a big difference between Vail Resort with 15,000 people a day and Silverton.
Based upon this determination we opened on Sunday to the delight of all the skiers/boarders who had already traveled to Silverton and were blindsided by the Governor’s order which wasn’t released to us or the public until 9pm Saturday night. Due to the late night release of the Governor’s order, the skiers for Sunday were already in Silverton so the additional risk of virus spread was low as the guest were already in town and had already eaten in town and spent the night in their hotels.
Our goal was to also be open Monday for season pass holder only day, as we believed that outdoor recreation in the Silverton Mountain environment was suitable for dispersed contact and that our double chairlift with small amounts of skiers and no restaurants or hotels was the ideal place to allow skiing with a low risk of virus spread. The plan was to limit access to our base tent and busses but to keep the lift spinning allowing skiers on the mountain as we have thousands of acres and human contact is nil on the mountain. We were also going to limit access to the mountain to basically only those with season passes for the remainder of the season so that our valued pass holders would reap the benefits of being able to ski at the only open location in the state, while minimizing the impacts and risks to the Silverton community with small daily visitor amounts.
To this end, we consulted with the Governor’s office on Monday who in fact AGREED with our interpretation of his closure order and said we could indeed operate the lift for guided lift access on a limited basis for our pass holders. This was a huge step forward and we spent all day on Monday preparing a plan to open the mountain to our pass holders in a manner that would limit exposure to Silverton residents. We were extremely excited to be able to provide our pass holders the only skiing in Colorado!
However, by the end of Monday after the President’s address of the nation and subsequent closures of all public spaces (more or less) and complete quarantine of some large metropolitan communities and international borders, we have decided that the best decision is to follow suit and close the lift and single run heli skiing for the remainder of the season so that hopefully the communities of Colorado can avoid a upcoming mandatory quarantine.
We will be reaching out to those with season passes and booked reservations in the upcoming days with more information regarding credits for next season. We request your patience in this process as we have a small office staff and limited capacity to answer the phones and email with this high volume of requests.
Please respect our community by observing posted speed limits and adjusting your driving according to weather and road conditions.
How is snow reported?
Snow report data is from a mid mountain elevation of 11,800’ on the northside of the mountain. The peak of the mountain is 13,487’ and top of chair is near 12,300’. We don’t report upper elevation snow depths on our own site, but other sites request an upper elevation total which we take from the high alpine. The upper elevation snow is much deeper than at the top of the chair.
Is there windloading?
You bet. The whole mountain gets consistently windloaded and is one reason why the snow is usually so deep and skiing so nice. The mountain collects snow like a catcher’s mitt. The snow data is from an area below ridgeline as leeward ridgelines get silly amounts of snow that are not representative of overall snow depth.
Why is thin snow cover on the ridgetop if you have such a deep base in the snow report?
The wind scours the tops of ridges and deposits the snow on the leeward sides. Snow does not fall in an even blanket like it does at lower elevations. Some aspects with more sun may hold less snow than shaded north aspects.
Aren’t snow report base depths supposed to be from the base area elevation?
No. All ski areas report from a mid mountain base depth. Base depths are reported from an area of undisturbed and uncompacted snow. When skiers ski on snow it packs it down and it becomes much denser.
Does snow settle on its own?
Yes. Snow naturally settles over time as air escapes and snow crystals lose their form. 34” of new light density snow may settle to boot high snow over a few days.