The Red Bull Cold Rush's Perfect Venue: Silverton, CO

Mar 21, 2011
Outside Magazine

You can jump out right here, too.                              Photo: Ian Forhman/Red Bull

It isn’t everyday that you get to ski a couloir that Sage Cattabriga-Alosa just slayed in the Red Bull Cold Rush.  Or try to stomp the 20 footer that Suzanne Graham styled in the same competition, or scope Sean Pettite’s cliff of choice.  Unless, that is, you are skiing at Silverton Mountain, CO.  

The Red Bull Cold Rush, an invite only, big mountain and slopestyle ski competition went off last week in its new stateside home at Silverton after two years at Red Mountain, BC, then two at Retallack, BC.  Sean Pettit and Grete Eliasson won the event, which is a three-day, peer-judged competition consisting of a big mountain day, a slopestyle day, and a cliffs day.

Competitors were impressed with the demanding terrain, and it looks likely that the event will return next year.  The athletes were dropped by helicopter on top of their lines, which is one of Silverton’s newest standout features. As in, you can ride the chair and bootpack to your lines, or hire the heli, for one run or all day.  Right now, the mountain still requires you hire a guide, due to the insane ski lines stretching in every direction, and a tricky Colorado snowpack, although early and late season you do not need a guide.

If you haven’t heard of Silverton Mountain by now but still call yourself a skier, you haven’t been paying much attention. Even if you are not invited to a Red Bull competition, it isn’t every ski area that you can opt to get off the chairlift and hop onto a heli that swiftly deposits you on knife-edge ridge-tops. Without the heli, you can bootpack to the same and similar terrain. Drool worthy lines drop everywhere here, and the immensity of the peaks ensure you do not lose your focus.

The spiel for just skiing there (yes, there is a spiel) starts out with “if the lift line looks scary to you, you should re-think skiing here.” That was followed by the heli safety speech, delivered by co-owner Jen Brill, and peppered with succinct directions, followed by ”…or you will die.”  It was the best and most direct safety speech I’ve ever heard. Brilliant.

 Dave Treadway, not scared by the heli spiel.                Photo: Ian Forhman/Red Bull

From the college kids on spring break who threw down the $150 for a heli drop and the run of their lives, to watching the guides coax a slightly worried skier into a couloir used by the Red Bull athletes on another heli drop, this is definitely not your ordinary ski resort experience.  And then you’ll find, it is only fitting to celebrate one of the most stellar kinds of ski days with PBRs in the yurt that serves as base area and seems ordinary, but like the ski hill, most defintely is not.

Suzanne Graham airs it out.  Photo: Ian Forhman/Red Bull

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