I flew in to Phoenix to meet my brother, it didn't really seem like we were going on a ski trip:
Our ride for the week (my brother's Jeep - we put the top on before we left Scottsdale):
We went from Desert:
To High Desert:
And directly into a dust storm:
Pretty cool. The next morning, we woke up to snow outside the hotel in Silverton. We drove up to the mountain and it was still snowing:
Silverton has a tent for a base lodge and one lift with no safety bar. When you get to the top of that lift, you see this sign:
The only skiing allowed this time of year is with a guide. Our guide was a monster. Our first run was about 3,000 vertical feet through about 5 inches of powder over rock hard crust. With one stop. And we were over 13,000 feet above ski level.
That went really well, so I grabbed my camera for the second run. We started on a traverse:
And dropped into some trees:
The camera really flattens out the slope in that shot, but it was pretty steep. The snow was much better in here. Wind loaded, deeper, slightly heavier, but without the crust. We found some fun stuff to play on towards the bottom:
As we walked back to the lift, the sun started coming out:
Here's our crazy guide.
His name was Josh (or something), but everyone called him "Wild Horse" or just "Horse" - there wasn't really any explanation about how his nickname came about . . . Strange . . . Here he is giving my brother some guidance.
We were told to cut slopes, go one at a time, ski certain lines, etc. - mostly because of avalanche danger, but also to preserve snow. The hard part was skiing these really long lines without stopping (so you could reach Wild Horse's safe zones). This didn't make for the best pictures. Nor did the fog rolling in just in time to make the descent fully vertigo-inducing:
One again, pow on top, crust underneath/ The crust started to go away again as we got lower into the trees.
We skied down, crossed a river and hopped on a cat track:
And made it down to a waiting area:
Took a couple of pictures:
Eventually, the shuttle bus came:
Which kind of looked like they ripped off a UPS truck. It was a little claustrophobic on the inside, and it was covered in stickers . . . Cool.
After that run, it was time for lunch, delivered right to the sunny picnic tables next to the lift. I also took out my GoPro to shoot some video in the afternoon (edit coming later).
If it seems uncrowded, it's because there were only 19 people on the hill that day (plus a few guides, patrollers, and shuttle drivers). Now that the sun was out, it was time to start really hiking. After lunch, we got on the lift:
And started hiking to here:
How far was it? Well, this picture was taken about halfway up:
Brother was pretty tired on the hike. I was too.
But he recovered when he saw the kind of terrain we'd be skiing:
(Pay no attention to the grass, it was really windy in that spot)
Wild Horse kicked off the cornice for us:
It looked pretty steep:
And it was . . . But it was also pretty fun. Most of it had that firm crust underneath, but there was still some good snow to be had. Here's some pics of the descent - Instagrammed for your pleasure (the clouds moved in again to put us in vertigo mode and flatten the light on all of my pictures):
It was a long run:
Really fun line, though. Definitely worth the hike. By the time we got back down, we were pretty beat:
But it was on the bus again for another ride:
Groups average between 3 and 6 runs a day, so we were glad to get 5 lift rides. The final run would be in the trees. Wild Horse scouted the route:
Yep, it looked damn good. And steep:
We got a solid run in there (you'll see it all on the GoPro edit). And by the time we reached the bottom, our legs were pretty shredded. We totally deserved our St. Patrick's Day green beer.
It was one of my best ski days ever.
Next post, I'll report on Telluride and Durango, including the drive to Telluride on the most scenic road I've been on since last year.