January 30th - February 3rd, 2011: Colorado Cold

At long last, I'm back on the blog. The computer seems to have recovered after catching a minor cold - likely the result of riding around in Colorado for several days of sub-zero temps. I'll be using my real-time tweets as the context for most of the pictures.

January 30th: Get me west!
AM: "Reset the odometer and rolling out. I'm on the move."

It was a long drive, but a straight drive across I-80. Not much to photograph, but pumped to make it to Boulder and get ready for the ensuing mountain fun.

PM: "15 hours, 2 lorettas, 2 rockstars, 1034 miles. Boulder."

January 31st: Acclimate"Scooped JonnyB at DIA. Frisco (sans San)."

Monday was a mellow day in Boulder, but the snow started to fall throughout the day. I cruised the snowy streets of Boulder and enjoyed a few brews with my host for the day, JakeD. Boulder was nice, but I moved on to Denver International to scoop JonnyB and start getting turns.

February 1st: 8" at Beaver Creek
AM: "6 degrees, 8 inches. Easing in at Beaver Creek, 'Not exactly roughing it.'" 

Beaver Creek's motto of "Not exactly roughing it" is pretty darn accurate. Except for the temperatures that hung around zero and turned a few noses white throughout the day.

JonnyB and I joined up with Mike and Rob, and somehow Nina (who we met on the parking lot shuttle) got thrown into the mix as our guide for the day. Nina guided us around through the freshies and we all had a grand ol' time getting the legs going on a number of bump runs, which I'd still be paying for days later.

A great happy hour at the Rusty Saddle (or maybe the Big Boot, or some other mountain cowboy reference) was a steal with any draft beer plus fish tacos and the like for $6. That was just enough to fuel JonnyB and I forward to Silverton, in the southwest corner of Colorado. Getting there was no easy task, with an incredible drive along the Million Dollar Highway through Ouray and over Red Mountain Pass. At night. With fresh snow falling. It was slow.

PM: "Elevation 9,318 feet. Population 531. One of the coolest ski 'resorts' around. Silverton, CO."

All quiet on Main Street in Silverton.

February 2nd: Purgatory. Or is it Durango?
"Mellow morning in Silverton, only tourists in town. Time for a half day at Purgatory. Durango, CO."

I always keep a spare Rockstar in the car in case of emergency energy needs. I've never had one freeze until now. Even Rockstar is no match for the Silverton overnight temperatures, which fell well below zero.
Pop goes the Rockstar.

A quiet morning indeed on the streets of Silverton. But what a view.

There aren't many shops in Silverton. And most of them close their doors for the winter.

JonnyB and I checked out Purgatory for the afternoon and got a few good turns, but were rather disappointed by the amount of traversing required to get from one lift to the next. Engineer Mountain sure looks good though!

February 3rd: The big day at Silverton. Epic. Really.
AM: "Storm of the century in Chicago and i miss it to chase snow. The irony is painful but at least it's 20 below (also painful)."

The reports from Chicago's SnowPocalypse sounded amazing and I was truly disappointed to be missing the fun. My big chance to carve some backcountry turns down Mt. Trashmore. Luckily, I was also about to enjoy "one of the purest ski experiences one can have" at Silverton Mountain.

Even the mountain map is a bit more rugged than your average resort.

Silverton has one lift, is only open Thursday-Sunday, requires that you ski in groups no bigger than eight and always with a guide (this time of year), requires a bit of hiking for almost every run, and most runs end with a ride in an old school bus or UPS truck back to the base. Worth the slightly higher price of admission, without a doubt.

The whole operation is run out of an oversized tent that serves as registration in the morning (lots of waivers) and the happy hour and merch-shop in the afternoon. The guides push skiers hard, and I was slightly scared by at least half of our runs. Excuse me if dropping into relatively steep chutes and having to lower myself down hundred foot fixed-ropes with my skis on pushed my limit a little. Or a lot.

My legs burned all day, some combination of Beaver Creek fatigue, elevation (topping out around 12,800'), and early season lack of conditioning (more off-season squats next year). Regardless, I was a way better skier at the end of the day and really can't wait to come back. Hopefully in better shape.

JonnyB has a more media-rich account: BackwoodsBayArea.

Not your average mountains.

PM: "Silverton just chewed me up and spit me out. In the process taking my legs and any pride I may have had. Can't wait to do it again."

 All towns should have an Avalanche Hazard board. 
It's way more fun than the Homeland Security Advisory System.


JB said...

Always a blast my friend. Don't forget to mention our friendly host Andy at the Prospector Motel.


Bernard Rocca said...

True story. We enjoyed some fine accommodations at The Prospector in Silverton, run by a Chicago Area native, and at The Caboose in Durango - http://caboosemoteldurango.com

Gotta love the family-owned spots, but they are hard to compare to El Nido in South Lake.

Post a Comment