General Questions for Guided and Unguided Skiers
How does this place work?
There is one lift and you typically hike along ridgelines. We have guided and unguided skiing, depending on the time of year (see later questions). It is all advanced/expert skiing only.
What time should I arrive?
The ticket tent opens at 8:15am. If you need equipment and/or are going in a guided group, arrive around 8:15am to get your gear and be ready to get in a group for when the lift starts at 9am. For an unguided day, the lift starts at 9am and you can arrive whenever you like.
Do I need to jump off cliffs to ski here?
No. Although we have plenty of cliffs, unless you are looking to hit them you will be fine keeping your skis on the ground all day.
What airlines fly into Durango/Montrose/GJ?
United (daily from DEN), American (daily from DFW) and US Air (daily from PHX) fly in and out of Durango with several flights each day on each airline.
The Montrose airport has service to Houston and Newark operated by United Airlines, service to Dallas and Chicago with American Airlines, service to Atlanta with Delta Airlines, and service to Oakland and Phoenix/Mesa with Allegiant Air.
Grand Junction has Allegiant Air Service to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, American Airlines Daily Service to Dallas/Ft. Worth, Delta Airlines Daily Service to Salt Lake City, United Airlines Daily Service to Denver and Houston, US Airways Daily Service to Phoenix
How far from Montrose, Durango or the closest airport?
The town of Durango is closer and easier and is approximately 1 hour away. The airport is 1.5 hours from the mountain. Montrose is 1.75 hours. Driving from either direction requires driving over a mountain pass, and we recommend renting a 4-wheel drive vehicle if it is snowing.
Are there any shuttle services to Silverton?
NO! We invite our out of town guests to book shuttles out of Telluride, Montrose, or Durango to get rides into Silverton.
What do I need to bring?
Ski/snowboard boots. We have no snowboard bindings so bring your own and hardware. There is no running water at the ski area, but there is bottled water for sale. It is a good idea to bring layers of clothing.
Do I need to bring my own avalanche equipment or can I rent from you?
You need to have a beacon, shovel, and probe to ski or snowboard. We have these for rent. Each item can be rented separately. We have Dakine packs for rent (which the guides use) if you need a pack that carries skis/snowboard. If you need to rent equipment you may easily do it when you book your reservation or when you check in during the morning.
What kind of ski rentals do you have?
The best skis on earth… K2 super fat skis are available for rent. We have all the latest K2 powder skis. You can reserve them online when you make a reservation , or by calling. The size and all fittings will be taken care of that day by our rental professionals.
Do I need avalanche training to ski/snowboard there?
Do I need skins or snowshoes for the uphill travel?
No. However if going with a custom heli package you may want to bring them.
How much vertical does the lift provide?
Almost 2,000 feet
What days are we open?
When does the mountain close for the day?
Lift stops uploading at 3 pm
Is there an age limit, can I bring my kids?
Seven is the youngest we’ve ever had at the mountain, and because there is a good amount of hiking, kids often tire fast. But they are welcome if they can keep up. Private guides are a good option for kids. People under 18 need their parent to sign a waiver. You can contact us in advance.
How much hiking can I expect?
Anywhere from 5-45 minutes along ridgelines, depending on grouping. There is also quite a bit of skiing right off of the lift that requires no hiking.
How many lifts?
1 (sometimes that’s all you need)
What about food and water?
We have lunch orders available for $15 a day, you can order in the morning. We have water, soda, beer, liquor and a full bar at the mountain. Snacks and candy are available, but bringing your own food as a supplement is also a good idea.
Where can I stay?
Please check the Lodging Page. There are many different options.
Is there camping in the area?
Yes, you can camp on the road on the way to the ski area but you need to move your car if snows in order for the plow trucks to get through.
What skis should I bring?
The fatter the better. Bring equipment you are comfortable with that way if you don’t like the rental skis (which never happens) then you have your old standby to trade into.
Is it going to be powder everywhere?
As exciting as it can be to ski Silverton, it is important to maintain realistic goals for your trip. Many days can be ‘all time best of my life’, but there can also be times when the premier lines have to stay closed due to avalanche hazards, etc. The film crews wait until perfect conditions of good snow stability combined with fresh snow (which is why it always looks so good on film). Those used to high speed lifts and banging out 30 runs in an hour have a tougher time adjusting to the Silverton pace. Those who enjoy the excitement of exploring new lines and quality over quantity find themselves right at home. Few go home however without being enjoyably exhausted at the end of the day.
When and how much is guided-only skiing?
What about a private guide?
Private guides are available and it is a great way to go if you wish to travel with your own group and at your own pace. See Guided Skiing Page for more info and pricing.
How big are the guided groups?
8 or less. We can accommodate groups larger than 8 if you let us know in advance.
How do you form the groups?
In the morning there is a self-classification process of fast and medium. This applies to both hiking and skiing. We try our best to match abilities. If groups are mismatched we try to keep extra guides on hand to switch people in and out. Please communicate with your guide.
How many guided runs do you get in a day?
3-7 runs and 6,000-14,000 vert. Most skiers are exhausted at the end of the day. Those used to high speed lifts and banging out 30 runs in an hour have a tougher time adjusting to the Silverton pace. Those who enjoy the excitement of exploring new lines and quality over quantity find themselves right at home.
How many people are on the mountain during guided-only?
Approximately 80 skiers or less.
How does standby guided/heli drops work?
Your Unguided Season Pass is good for unguided skiing only. However, it is also valid for half-price standby heli drops and discounted $89 standby tickets during the Guided Only Season. Please do not call ahead to check on availability for standby openings, just show up and “standby” until we know if there is space available.
Standby options are not guaranteed and are subject to daily availability at the last minute (hence standing by). This means waiting until all the full priced guided skiers and/or heli skiers have gotten on. If there is space in an existing group, we will fit you in. We can not formulate an additional group based on standby skiers, there has to be space in an existing group to get in on standby.
Tips for getting the most out of your Guided Skiing day
- New terrain opens almost every day after additional avalanche control. Many times the freshest snow may be on Thursdays, but over the weekend more terrain typically opens each day so you will usually find the most terrain options on Sunday. This means fresh powder is usually available every day of the week regardless of when the last snow fell.
- Prepare for the high altitude. Check with your physician first before taking any medications. You can start taking Diamox one day before you arrive for best results (RX. We are told that the recommended dose is 125mg twice a day, but check with your doctor) or Ginko Biloba 125 mg twice a day starting 5 days before you get here. Viagra also works. If you are coming from sea level, skiing a easy partial day before your Silverton day will help with the altitude.
- Relax! There is no mad dash to ski it up as fast as possible like at a regular ski area. The nice thing about Silverton is the snow will still be there, so relax and enjoy your day. Guided skiing moves at a different pace than at a hectic ski resort with high speed lifts and agro attitudes. Most groups ski 4-5 runs a day (8,000-12,000 feet of vert) and are completely worn out. But if you want to ski as much vertical feet as humanly possible by skipping lunch, snacks, and bathroom breaks and sprinting instead of hiking, let your guide know and they will try to accommodate you.
- If there has been a big dump or change in winds recently, don’t expect to be skiing steeper lines. It can take a while to get steeper runs open. Tree skiing is more common after fresh snowfall. Many times we will try to get a few great runs open further out on the ridge as quickly as possible, so we may hike right past fresh snow in runs (even with big blast holes in them) not yet opened, to get to more distant terrain. Our snowpack is unlike any other so please have patience, stability assessment takes a bit longer in the San Juan’s. Many times we will start to blast a run, only to learn that it needs more time before we can open it. Skier compaction allows us to keep the mountain open. Please feel free to ask your guide what that means.
- If you are of an exceptional fitness level, and want to ski the steepest, most rocky, 6 foot wide chutes all day at a frantic pace, try to bring your own group of 8 skiers. Eight is the magic number for getting your own guided group. If you are a returning guest and want to request a guide, feel free to do so when you arrive. The mornings are hectic so please make your request more than once. Private guides are also a great option. Most people enjoy skiing the regular steeps of Silverton with standard groups at a regular pace. But we know there are some (about 2%) who aren’t happy unless they are going as big as possible all day. To best accommodate the needs of insane skiers follow these tips.
- Pay attention to your guide all day, exactly. The guide will only take you where he/she feels comfortable as their priority is your safety. The better you listen, the more the guide can open it up for you with longer pitches, steeper lines, etc. Let your guide know if you want to huck your meat or ride steeps as much as possible. If you don’t tell them they won’t know. The guide may not be able to accommodate your request based on snow conditions and avalanche hazard, but they will try their best.
Do I need to make a reservation for unguided skiing?
No, but you can if you are concerned or traveling long distances.
Can I still get a guide during the unguided skiing season?
Absolutely. Guides are available year-round, and we recommend skiing with a guide if you’ve never been to Silverton Mountain. The price is $179 during unguided season and includes the lift ticket.
How many people are allowed on the mountain during unguided skiing?
Less than 475
When and how much is unguided skiing?
Tips for unguided skiing
- Figure out which way is North once you hit the top of the mountain. The mountain has all kinds of exposures and depending on the wind direction, the wind will usually load some aspect extra deep. Some areas will always be deeper than others, but if you stay north it is a good place to start, unless of course the wind loaded south sides that day.
- Hikes of longer than 25 minutes usually close by 1:45pom. Be sure to arrive early if you want to hit the longer hike-to terrain. Ski patrol needs time to sweep at the end of the day and the more distant areas usually close first. Terrain options get scaled back near the end of the day, so don’t wait until the end for the classic run. Last lift upload is at 3:00pm.
- Follow the sun. Hit the backside first, then westside. The backside gets the sun first so the snow will usually be best if you hit it first. In the spring the backside will usually close at 11am due to wet snow avalanche hazards.
- There is usually new terrain open every day. If you want to hit the distant hikes it is usually best to wait a few days after fresh snow. The ski patrol needs time to open new runs and they keep working further out each day. Hikes beyond 45 minutes usually require a guide, but the majority of the terrain can be accessed without a guide. Guided skiers/boarders can sometimes ski runs before they open to unguided skiers when conditions allow.
- You can usually find fresh snow for two weeks after a storm. With 1,819 acres and only a few skiers a day, you might see a bunch of people at the base area because the parking lot is so small, but once you get up top there are many nooks and crannies where fresh snow abounds. You just have to look for it. Obviously the areas that can be seen from the lift get hit first and most often, but they might not be the best so keep looking beyond the main run and you will find what you are looking for.
- Certain areas of the mountain have thin cover all season long, regardless of what type of snow year it is. Snow does not fall in an even blanket in high alpine mountains. A foot of fresh will likely not leave any of the new snow on the ridge tops but deposit it in favored locations. The ridges are usually thin all season as the wind scours the snow from them and loads it on the slopes. Super steep areas like Waterfall Ramp, Two Smokes, Skid Mark, etc. are thin all year because the snow has a tough time sticking to these steep rocky areas. You just have to accept that it is thin for a short section in those areas and enjoy the great snow above and below them. Snow settles rapidly, so 3 feet of new snow will be usually be reduced to 1 foot of new snow within 24-48 hours.
- There will always be sucker tracks heading to big dead end cliffs or ice falls on the backside. Don’t assume if someone else made it, that you can also. It is always best spend 5 minutes to hike up 30 feet and traverse around cliffs than to keep heading down into “no mans land.” Scout before you drop and you can find all sorts of fun.