We started the morning with a casual breakfast and good conversation with other travelers in the kitchen of the Silverton Hostel, which is clean, cheap, and conveniently located in the center of town. Matt, Jonathan and I (Jon decided last minute that he also wanted to party) rendezvoused with some friends in the Silverton parking lot. The Cold Smoke crew was there, along with a few others I recognized from last season. At Silverton, prior to purchasing your lift ticket you must sign your life away in several places. You also must prove that you brought a beacon, shovel and probe before they’ll let you rip.
We took the ten minute ride up the “old-school” two-seater lift chair, and almost immediately we could feel ourselves begin to bake in the sun. Silverton doubled the number of chairs on their one-and-only lift this year, so the amount of wait-time decreased significantly (Although we’d never waited more than a few minutes anyway.) The boot-pack to Billboard took awhile, but was well worth it. They call the peak Billboard because there’s literally a billboard at the top. Inside it contains retro technology and was used in the sixties to bounce communication signals from one peak to the next, over long distances throughout the San Juan mountain range.
To start the day off right we dropped into a chute just down from the billboard. The first line of the day was the best, hands down. It was steep and soft, and included a cliff drop and wind-lips. Now that’s my kind of riding! Bonus: We funneled out the bottom via a natural half-pipe that must have run at least 200 yards. However, the second half of the run was all slush-crust (freezing overnights and hot days), so we decided to stick to some other terrain from there on out.
The sun was the largest factor today, but whenever we tucked into the trees on the northern, wind-loaded slopes we were able to find soft snow. We took 6 runs top to bottom throughout the day, taking our time and enjoying the heat that we’d missed for so many months. We’d stop here and there and sit down just to enjoy the scenery, or grab a cold beer from the car and enjoy it in the parking lot between runs. On this day last season there were several more feet of snow, so we got after it a lot harder and did more laps than today. That doesn’t mean we took it easy, however. Each of us had a fair share of airs, drops and pillows. We were all sure to get a few good spills as well.
With the road trip, a long, fun day of riding in the sun, and a great lodging experience combined, we had a great trip, with good company and good laughs that lasted the entirety.