Silverton Mountain, Colorado

A skier on Pequeno #2 at Silverton     Photo: courtesy, Silverton Mountain

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Snowfall: 400 inches
Area: 1,819 acres
Vertical Drop: 1,900 feet (lift-served)
Web: silvertonmountain.com

The base lodge is a tent. The plumbing consists of a few kegs on tap and a pair of outhouses cut into the snow. Nighttime temps frequently hit 40 below. The sole lift is a secondhand double chair the California Forest Service insisted Mammoth remove from its property. Much of the terrain can kill you. The nearest groomed run is a couple of mountain passes away, in Durango. You need avalanche gear to get on the lift. Half of the season you can't ski without a guide, which bumps the cost of a lift ticket to $120. Although the staff is very nice, this may be the least family-friendly ski experience on earth, with the possible exception of La Grave, France, the extreme ski area Silverton is often compared with. Calling it a resort would be a stretch for apolitical strategist of the Rove school. But it's the most challenging skiing you'll find outside of the Chugach, and it represents all that is good in this sport. Well, flush toilets would be nice.

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