Silver Mountain

With only 20 percent of the mountain geared toward beginners, Silver Mountain is your own private, snow-shellacked Idaho.
Author:
Publish date:
Idaho cashed in this past week, with Silver Mountain getting 4" this past week and other resorts receiving even more.Photo Courtesy of Silver Mountain

Idaho cashed in this past week, with Silver Mountain getting 4" this past week and other resorts receiving even more.
Photo Courtesy of Silver Mountain

Silver Mountain will improve your skiing, not your social status. Here, “high speed” refers to the nearby trucker traffic on I-90, and there’s more flannel than fur on the slopes. But this northern Idaho playground has plenty of serious lines. The three-mile gondola from Kellogg to the slopes—yep, it’s ride the box in, ride it out—accesses 1,600 acres stretched over 2,200 vertical feet, and triple that when you include adjacent backcountry. With only 20 percent of the mountain geared toward beginners, Silver Mountain’s your own private, snow-shellacked Idaho.

Must Hit: From the top of Chair 2, skate left to Skyway Ridge, then float down Sunset, a 30-degree, west-facing powder receptacle. Scoot past Centennial into the unnamed natural halfpipe, a snowy gorge filled with pillows, rocks, and fallen trees.

The Sneak: Catch the 9 a.m. rope drop at Chair 2. When the crowd storms into North Face Glades, head the opposite direction down Sunrise to the 30-degree tree shots off of Tall Paul, T2D2, and Heaven.

Powder Day: Head straight to the avy-controlled, hike-to flanks of Wardner Peak and hump your skis 10 minutes to the 35-degree, fir-lined glades of Silver Basin and The Meadows. Circle back, and suffocate on face shots down 16 to 1’s 40-degree chutes.

Three Days Later: Drop down Silver Belt off Chair 2, and 10 turns in bang a left into the lowest section of North Face Glades. Lose yourself in the dim old-growth tamarack forest that funnels into Snake Pit, a 38-degree slope divided by a 10- to 15-foot cliff band that spits you out near the Chair 3.

Park and Pipe: Master the 15-foot tabletops and rails in the unnamed park, located under the Paradise Express, before grinding down a 35-foot kinked rail.

Backcountry Access: Five gates on Sunrise (below Chair 2) access South of the Border (not shown), a 1,000-acre expanse of heavily wooded, 35-degree bowls that drop two miles into the adjacent Big Creek drainage. There’s no route back, so leave a car on Big Creek Road or thumb it. Check with ski patrol for conditions.

Weather: When a low-pressure system sits on the Idaho/Canada border, go directly to Silver. Hit it in February, when the resort gets sandwiched between Arctic blasts and warmer southwesterly flows and accumulations can total two feet.

Après: Toast the locals at the Jackass Grill & Pub in uptown Kellogg. Gorge on $2 pulled-pork tacos and $2 happy-hour Buds. Or nibble on the $7 antipasto or the $4 olive sampler at Mountain Tapas Café. Looking for something less metro? Grease it up with a burger and fries at Terrible Edith’s Bar and Grill.

Fuel: Kick-start the day with a $5 Breakfast Bomb at Mountain Tapas: two eggs, sausage, cheese, potatoes, and salsa. The $6.50 chili bread bowl at the Mountain Haus Grill makes a nice, protein-packed lunch.

Up All Night: Head to uptown Kellogg’s Dirty Ernie’s, where ski bums and blue-collars come to swill $2 bottles of Kokanee and dance to classic-rock standards.

Digs: Choose tomorrow’s lines while soaking in the rooftop hot tubs of the Morning Star Lodge. Located in the gondola village, it offers ski-and-stay packages starting at $85 per person for double occupancy (silvermt.com).

Related

10. Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho

Schweitzer Mountain

Go before everyone else discovers Schweitzer’s 6,400-foot-high Selkirk spine and 1,200 acres of tamarack glades and curvy bowls.

Turner Mountain, Montana

Private Powder

There’s no such thing as a secret stash anymore. So how do you keep your line fresh? Own it. It’s only $2,500 a day. You can do this at Turner Mountain.

Sun Valley has a wealth of restaurants, both fine dining for a romantic date and casual family-friendly hotspots.  To play it fancy, visit the Lodge Dining Room.  For a hearty prime rib, go to the Pioneer Saloon.  Look no further than Il Naso for an urban Italian experience.  To spend quality time with your family overlooking the ice rink, head to Gretchen's.

Sun Valley

Sun Valley’s terrain—ranging from high-speed rippers to wide-open bowls—never gets old.

Bald Mountain’s shady north face is named after the hot springs-fed creek that runs through the base area. The signature run, Warm Springs, is one of the classic groomer descents in the country. If you can’t have fun on Warm Springs, you need a fresh tune and a ski lesson. This is not the place to slide a turn or suck at skiing. Few things compare to over 3,000 vertical feet of high-speed GS turns down this alley. Your legs will tremble and your lips will quiver with a strange mix of terror, excitement, and exhaustion. Warm Springs will make you remember that like powder, carving is pretty damn exhilarating. Plus, if you luck out with a fat storm with southwest flow, The Burn, the sidecountry zone created by the 2007 Castle Rock wildfire just off Warm Spring’s western boundary, is some of the best powder skiing in the country.

Secrets to Skiing Sun Valley

It’s a simple existence in Sun Valley, Idaho. Ski, party, repeat. But combine a demanding mountain with celebrity sightings and seemingly bottomless schooners of beer, and spending time at America’s most storied ski resort is anything but easy. Here’s a guide to doing it right.

Tamarack Resort, ID

Tamarack

The west-central Idaho resort now has seven lifts, 38 runs, and 1,100 skiable acres.

Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain

Quick Tip: Magic Mountain now embraces uphill traffic. If you want to hike and ski for free, stick to the side of the trail on your ascent during peak hours.