Pack your shovel and probe and check your beacon’s battery life, because Silverton Mountain opens for the season on Saturday, Dec. 1. Just don’t expect a big hoopla of opening day festivities to greet you at the base area when the lifts get cranking at 9 a.m.

This unique ski area, which boasts 1,819 acres of lift-served backcountry terrain and a base area with no running water, will kick off with weekend-only, unguided operations through Dec. 15. Because of its advanced nature and lack of any groomed runs, skiers and snowboarders are required to carry the essential backcountry gear every day. But unlike many resort-operated backcountry adventures, guides are readily available (and even required during mid-winter operations) during the entire season.

Whether you want to explore beyond the unguided boundaries or get the beta on the lay of the land, Silverton guides will lead groups of eight people to an untracked paradise and rack up more than 10,000 feet of vertical drop. Guided skiers should arrive by 8:15 a.m.

Silverton does limit the number of skiers and riders, however, so reservations are always encouraged and require a 24-hour notice during both the unguided and guided seasons.

Silverton will be open for unguided skiing and riding on Dec. 1-2, Dec. 8-9, Dec. 15-30 (excluding Christmas), Jan. 3-6 and Jan. 10-13. The guided season is scheduled for Jan. 17 – Mar. 31, Thursdays through Sundays.

To make an online reservation at Silverton, click here.