Imagine having an entire ski mountain to yourself and your friends, family or co-workers in the heart of the rugged San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, the most dramatic mountain range in the state.
At Silverton Mountain, that experience can be yours for as little as $9,900 for a group of 40. But you’d better be an advanced or expert skier.
Silverton isn’t for everybody. It has only one lift, which serves lots of hike-to terrain, and it’s steep. Its slopes are avalanche controlled but ungroomed. There’s a reason its logo depicts a skier in a yellow triangle caution sign, upside down in the middle of an epic crash, heading for a face plant.
Co-founder Jen Brill says you need to feel “comfortable” on any sort of slope, in any sort of snow conditions, to ski or ride there.
“I tell people you don’t have to look good going down this steep chute, you can sidestep it,” Brill said. “You just have to be ABLE to sidestep it. You can’t just freeze in those situations. You have to be able to get down it.”
A description on Silverton’s website describes the mountain’s grandeur and challenge quite colorfully:
“There are loads of bowls, chutes, cliffs and wonderful natural terrain features … It is the highest ski area in North America with a peak of 13,487 feet, and it is also the steepest with no easy way down. The mountain is left in its natural state, with the exception of the avalanche reduction work. The chairlift unloads at the top of a beautiful cirque which provides easy hiking along a ridge to access up to 1,819 acres of snow fields.”
No one is allowed on the chairlift without avalanche gear.
Silverton is typically open for normal operations Thursdays through Sundays but can be rented for private groups Monday through Wednesday. Each party of up to 40 people gets a mountain guide — one for every eight skier or riders in the group — to show you around the mountain and help you find the best snow and terrain for your group.
Early season prices are $9,900 but go up in February and March — prices will vary then — when demand is higher along with the snowpack. Silverton’s snowpack is currently at 118% of normal for this time of year, Brill said.
Brill said typical groups opting to rent the mountain are companies seeking team-building experiences, holiday parties and ski companies testing new equipment.
“Now we’re getting a whole bunch of new people that haven’t rented the mountain before who are doing it because they love skiing with their family and as a family,” Brill said, adding that the proliferation of relatively inexpensive resort season passes such as Epic and Ikon are driving skiers Silverton’s way.
“Ski resorts are much more crowded than they were,” Brill said, “so people are looking for a different experience.”
Silverton is located 330 miles southwest of Denver between Ouray and Durango.