easy to get too off of the highway - friendly liftees
20+ min gondola ride - lifts aren't reliable & are slow
I've been to Silver Mtn various times in 08 & 09. I am an intermediate/advanced blue/black snowboarder. I've been on most of the runs although I try to avoid the cat tracks! Each time I've been to Silver there is always something not working. Either a chair lift is down, or one or more break down throughout the day, or we get stuck on one or a lift will finally get fixed and open 1/2 way into the day. I've never been evac'd off of a lift - only offered a coupon for hot chocolate once for getting stuck for a LONG time.
The last week in Feb they received 24+ inches of snow in the span of a few days. It was setting up to be an EPIC day since we hadn't had much snow lately! They were closed Tues, Wed & Thurs, so the snow was in excellent condition for riding on Friday. The Mtn however was not. They weren't ready for it. Living near 5 mountains, a decision was made the night before to go to Silver due to the heavy snow it received. I used a free pass that my husband had won from a radio show that was good for any of the surrounding mtns. We arrived about 15 min after opening - it was busy (we knew it would be due to the fabulous conditions that were awaiting us) - we waited a couple of minutes in line for the gondola which wasn't a big deal. Got up to the mountain and ready to ride only to discover that Chair 2 was stopped with people on it (THE lift to get to the top of Kellogg Peak) and only 1 chair was open. GRRRR. We knew that Chair 4 opened up (or was supposed to) @ 10 so we made due with what was available. 10 o'clock rolled around - chair 2 was inoperable for the day and they were getting people off of the lift. Ch 4 still wasn't opened - we were told it was taking longer to "clean" off the chairs due to the amount of snow and it might be another hour. (My question is... why didn't they do it earlier in the day or even the day before when they were already closed???) They were also still blasting for avalanches. We ended up HIKING up Silver Belt (ugh - it was a LONG hike) to get to the top of Kellogg Peak so we could access the runs on the back that ran into chair 4. We get to the top and discover that Ch 4 is STILL not running. We waited another 15+ minutes and saw that it was (it's now after 12 noon) so off we finally went to some great runs leaving our trails in the fresh untouched powder. It was awesome!!!
But then Ch4 was unreliable... it was stop and go ALL day long which meant long lift lines or getting stuck on the lift. The problem is if you leave the ch 4 area there was no way to get back to it unless you hiked up the peak again... (once was enough) so you're left with a dilemma. Either go home or wait in line - because chair 1 & 3 & 5 are only good for a couple of runs. We opted to wait - along with MANY others......
I was irritated because I chose to use a free ticket - worth $50+ and I could have gone elsewhere for a better day. Don't get me wrong - the snow was fabulous and the runs we did do were worth it - once we got to them... it's just the unreliability of the lifts and gondola that put a damper on things. Silver didn't compensate anyone - other than those who were stuck on Ch2 - they stayed open for an additional hour - but that didn't do much since Ch4 kept breaking during the "extra hour".
My feeling is they spent sooooo much money on the new water park that they didn't save any to repair the aging lifts. Bummer... the location is nice being right off of the highway - but then you have to chance the wind and the gondola shutting down. That would be why I have a pass to Mt. Spokane - where the runs are awesome, the lifts are always running, and the liftee's are nice! When all of the lifts are running - it's a nice area with varied terrain to please all levels. I don't use the terrain park - but it seems like it's good, or stay for the nightlife. Family friendly as far as runs go - sure. The management needs some help though!
The next day - Ch2 was STILL inoperable - but they were taking people up by a snow cat so they could access the runs. Why didn't they do that on Friday???????