Silverton Mountain offers a unique experience: It has one chairlift servicing 1,819 acres of backcountry-like terrain.
There are no groomed runs, no cut trails, no glitz, no glamour. Just a ton of fun riding uncrowded black diamond slopes.
Or as they like to say at Silverton: All thrills, no frills.
Another unique aspect of Silverton, which provides a heli-ski or snowcat ski experience without all that extra machinery, is that it provides guided-only skiing and snowboarding with small numbers of riders on a daily basis (go-it-alone riding is available on certain days throughout the winter).
You have to be fully prepared for a backcountry experience - i.e.: carry a shovel, probe pole, and avalanche beacon - before you can load the lift that starts out at an altitude of 10,400 feet and unloads at 12,300 (the resort's hike-to high point is 13,487).
Of course, all this cool stuff comes at a cost. Guided skiing and snowboarding is $119 per day in January and $129 per day in February and March. Unguided riding, which be had on specific days in December, early January and April, costs $49.
But if you want to ski or snowboard Silverton for no cost on its unguided days show up on the weekend of Dec. 6-7 and help them boot-pack snow in avalanche paths. No reservations or experience is needed - just a desire to learn the mountain by walking down runs packing snow as you go.
As a bonus, you'll get an unguided day lift ticket for each day of snowpacking.