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A perfect ski trip

Steve Benson

Just exactly when things turned weird is hard to say.

It wasn’t during our road trip down to Silverton Mountain ” a guided-access, throwback ski area with one chair lift, located deep in the San Juans ” because the four hours of tasteless humor and unfiltered insults were pretty standard.

And it wasn’t during our post-drive cocktail in one of the town’s bars, when a girl sitting 10 feet away from me choked on a sip of beer and spewed frothy suds all over my face. No, that seemed normal for a funky, old, ex-mining-town bar that had a kayak protruding through its window.

It wasn’t even later that night, when my roommate started snoring like a bear on steroids ” the type of snore that vibrated the floor, was no match for tissue plugged ears and sent me sneaking into a vacant room like a burglar in the middle of the night.

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And it wasn’t the next day, when after a morning hike our guide took us down an icy bowl that had yet to soften under the sun. You can’t blame anyone for what two weeks of relentless, warm temperatures will do to the snowpack.

Nor was it later in the day, when my binding suddenly broke, sending me in a high-speed, head-first swan dive that left my neck twitching and my pole bent, and forced me to hike (see: post-hole up to my crotch) my way out of a drainage. The way my season has gone (three broken skis and a busted binding) anything less would be shocking.

No, it wasn’t any of those.

Instead, it was just Silverton.

But in an era that has ski resorts promising “unique” experiences while catering to their guests’ every need, Silverton ” with its pot-holed dirt roads, one-tent base area, old used lift (originally Chair 15 at Mammoth Mountain), wild, big mountain terrain and isolated mountain vistas ” is truly unique.

And because of that quality, I would change nothing about the trip.

In a world of imperfections, Silverton Mountain is perfect.


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