I've been lucky enough to ski at SILVER MOUNTAIN for more than 40 years dating back to the Jackass and Silverhorn days. Back in my youth, my friends and I would try to tame the moguls that build up the lower, steeper part of Chair 4. As a teenager, that run helped me progress and take on steeps. It kept you on your game and made you learn how to control your speed and use your edges.
About 15 years ago, during an incredible storm cycle, I was skiing with longtime Silver Mountain local Robert Hoskinson and my good friend Tony Rizzuto. We planned on hitting Silver on this particular day as it dumped over 24 inches of pure cold smoke the previous 24 hours, which happened to be the day Silver was closed. This meant more than two feet of untouched blower snow and a forecast of continued snow flurries throughout the day. You bet we were some of the first riders up on the chairlift, and when the ski patrol dropped the rope Tony and I stayed tight on Robert's ski tails as he beelined it to one of his favorite powder runs, North of the Border — a steep, gladed tree run.
As we skied off the somewhat groomed ski run and over the edge onto the steeps, all three of us immediately entered the White Room. "White Room" is a skier's term for when snow completely obscures their vision as they make epic turns in deep, light powder.
We had face shot after face shot all the way down to the cat track a few hundred yards below.
We had to take lunch to refuel and give our legs a rest. That's when Robert said he thought there should be enough coverage if we wanted to ski the Gondola line all the way down into the town of Wardner. Tony and I were all in. As we were clicking into our skis, we ran into Bill Overholser, one of our good friend's then-70-year-old father. Bill is a die-hard skier who's as fit as they get. When we told him what we were doing, he flashed a big grin of a 20-year-old and said he wanted in.
For the next hour we had the time of our lives, skiing untracked, bottomless powder and exploring our way down to the town of Wardner. This ski adventure took a little bit of exploratory bushwacking, but it gave us a vertical drop of 3,300 feet. It had been dumping all day, and when we hit Main Street in Wardner, six inches had easily accumulated, as the snowplows were running behind.
With that much snow on the road, we stayed on the road, skiing all the way down to Kellogg and I-90. I'll never forget the smile on Bill's face as people were honking their horns, hooting and hollering as we skied by. That powder day at Silver Mountain rivals any of my best Heli skiing days.
— BOB LEGASA
"SURF AND SKI, ALL IN THE SAME DAY"
When asked what separates Silver Mountain Resort from its peers, Marketing Coordinator Gus Colburn doesn't hesitate.
"Our vibe is unmatched," he says. And as proof, he points to what's perhaps Silver Mountain's most iconic feature: the gondola that ferries guests there and back. Built during the closing months of the 1980s, it offers scenic views of the area as it ascends toward Kellogg Peak.
"The gondola is the longest one in America, so the ride up gives you a chance to get in the zone and to think about the day you have ahead. Instead of focusing on driving up a dangerous, windy mountain road, you can just relax."
But the gondola ride is just the appetizer to a multicourse meal. In addition to more than 70 trails and terrain features for skiers and snowboarders, areas that cater to those who prefer snow tubing and snowshoeing, plus plenty of dining and shopping amenities for all of its guests, Silver Mountain is also home to Silver Rapids, a football-field-sized indoor water park.
"What really sets us apart is the chance to surf and ski, all in the same day," Colburn says. "Who doesn't want to warm up in an 84-degree water park after skiing?"
MAGIC CARPET RIDEIf you'd prefer to master skiing before taking up surfing this winter, Silver Mountain has you covered. Literally. The magic carpet — think of it as a ground-level lift — has been given a roof to save beginners from having to contend with the elements and gravity at the same time.
"We also have a great team of rental technicians that help get you fitted with the right size boots and equipment," Colburn says. "It's never fun to be out there with boots that are too big or too tight. We also have a great team of ski and snowboard instructors with a lot of years of experience and who are trained to handle one-on-one private lessons or big group lessons if that fits your budget and is more your style."
One of the resort's most popular offerings along those lines is the Flexible 5 Pak. For $249, interested skiers and snowboarders ages 7 and up receive a five-lesson package that includes equipment rental and a lift ticket. Starting in January, they'll be able to book lessons with one of the resort's handpicked instructors, and graduates will either receive a season pass that's valid for the remainder of the season or 50 percent off a 2022-23 season pass.
All season pass holders will have unlimited access to the mountain's facilities and 1,600 skiable acres from the moment they have it in hand. Should the resort end up limiting lift tickets due to COVID arrangements, which Colburn says will be following "local and national health protocols," he recommends that anyone without a pass make a point to book well in advance.
"No matter who you are, if you're a skier or a snowboarder, or even if you're just a tuber looking for a good time during the winter months, Silver Mountain is a great place to come and visit," he says. "We have plenty of terrain for everyone from beginners to the most advanced skiers. We are a great place to bring a family because of our large beginner area, and the water park is a huge attraction, too."
— E.J. IANNELLI