Despite riding Silverton Mountain many times over the last eight years, I rarely get through a day there without some sort of white-knuckle experience. Whether making jump turns in Two Smokes while dodging (or clutching) the fixed line that spans the length of the chute, or dropping into a bulletproof, gnawed-to-the-bone Tiger Claw after watching a skier take a slide for life with his head facing downhill, I find myself keenly aware of two things: fear, and consequences. It's part of what makes the Silverton Experience one of a kind and keeps me coming back for more.
On this particular mission, I rolled into Silverton with a crew of friends from Crested Butte—Rusty Thompson, John Chandler, and Mike Eaton. There we met up with Klem Branner and Jerome Boulay of Venture Snowboards, and Chris Heise and Monty Orme from the Boardroom snowboard shop in Boise, Idaho. After several days of unseasonably warm temps the Snow Gods smiled upon us just as we arrived in town, and dropped a fresh coating of blower pow on the San Juans. We posted up for the evening and after a restless sleep (I never sleep well the night before a Silverton shred) woke to deep winter.
It's guided season at Silverton, and our group of eight was paired with all-star guide Rob Roof. "Rooftop" rips on a snowboard and lead us to fresh turns and some occasional "spice" to keep us on our toes. After a final run down Tiger, we congregated in Silverton's fabled tent for beers and shared glory.
Every time I unstrap after my final run at Silverton, I feel a sense of relief. Not because I want the day to end—the complete opposite actually. But there's something to be said for riding one of the gnarliest mountains in the Lower 48 and coming out in one piece. Because fear is most fun when it's overcome.