Reviewed by Jonathan Stumpf
Dec 04, 2008
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).