Saturday unveiled a pristine, cold (-20C) day at Silver Mountain, deep in the Bitteroots of Northern Idaho. Silver is one of those places we’d visited before, but always in sub-optimal snow and weather conditions. In fact, we’d never really seen the ski area before, surviving on passing glimses as the clouds rolled past and the fog drifted randomly around.
The first two hours on Saturday morning were therefore quite superb. We met up with our friends Paul and AJ, both former Silver Ski Hosts, and they showed us some excellent runs and secret stashes. It hadn’t snowed since Wednesday evening, but there was 4-6 inches of super-light powder all over the hill, especially in the trees. The North Face Glades were exhilarating, floating around well-spaced trees that seem to impossibly cling to the mountain side. South of the Border, an out of bounds run Paul led us to, was virtually untracked, and the snow on the edges of the steep Tall Paul was invitingly soft and forgiving.
By lunchtime, it had started to snow lightly, but the visibility remained fine and the winds still. We headed over to Chair 4, and I did 2000 feet vertical top-to-bottom laps on the various trails, while the others cruised the runs down to mid-station. The strenuous traverse around Wardner Peak to Meadows was well worth the effort, revealing lightly skied open fall line trails with ankle-deep freshies.
Kathy and I finished the day on Sunset, skipping in and out of the trees on the skier’s right. On the last run down about 3.45pm, we got to an alarmingly stationary Chair 3 – the only way back to the day lodge – with a huge line of cold looking skiers and boarders. After 20 minutes, the chair started loading only 2 people per chair, and running at a snail’s pace. Being slightly crazy too, Kathy agreed to hike up the 265-ish vertical metres instead of waiting for at least 30 minutes. It took a while, and we probably didn’t get up any faster, but at least we were warm! And fitter.
Sunday was a classic bluebird day, cold enough to see glistening ice crystals floating in the air. This time we met up with Dawn and Tim, long time season pass holders at Silver. They too were excellent guides, and showed us some superb tree runs on aspects of the mountain that held snow for days. The best was a traverse through the trees on the skier’s left of Meadows into a basin loaded with powder. Not bad for 4 days after the last storm.
It was a pleasure to finally see Silver in perfect weather, with a deep base and fresh snow. At times it seemed like we had the mountain to ourselves, the crowds were so small and lift lines non-existent. There’s some great, varied terrain here, and thanks to our 4 weekend guides, we know a lot more of it now. I’ll be looking for another opportunity to visit Silver, hopefully the day after a storm this time for maximum freshies.
Trip details – 2 days, 13,600m vertical
Season so far: 18 days, 10 powder days, 135,700 verts