Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ski resort has ‘a lot of heart, no attitude’

February 15, 2010 · ,

Ski resort has ‘a lot of heart, no attitude’

Talk about being 21st-century pioneers.

Jenny and Aaron Brill are raising the only infant in a tiny Colorado town, a town located more than 9,000 feet above sea level that offers heart-stopping mountain views in every direction and more than 400 inches of snow a year. And despite the economy, they’re making their dreams come true — and a lot of skiers happy in the process.

“It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of fun and you just have to learn to roll with the punches when there is an obstacle in your path,” says Aaron Brill, 38, the owner and founder of Silverton Mountain Resort in Colorado, along with his 37-year-old wife, Jenny. The resort celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

Silverton Mountain Resort isn’t just any ski resort. For one thing, there is only one lift and no bathrooms, just an outhouse. Apres ski means a beer or a Coke in the chilly tent, heated by a wood stove, that serves as a base lodge. Only expert skiers need come and be prepared to work for your turns. You might have to hike 45 minutes — uphill in 10,000-foot-plus elevation. The payoff is skiing down in pristine backcountry. Did I mention you need a shovel and an avalanche probe?

“The challenge is a big part of the allure,” says longtime Silverton guide Kim Grant. “You push yourselves a little more than you might at Telluride or another resort,” she says. “They might be a little frightened at the beginning but by the end of the day, they are so amazed to see what they’ve accomplished.”

I can’t think of a better adventure for a snow-loving parent and teen or tween, though even six-year-olds have successfully navigated these slopes, Jenny Brill says.

It won’t bust the budget either — a little more than $100 for a full day with a guide on a mountain with less than 100 people ($50 a day when you can go unguided). Compare that with a lift ticket at a major resort that will cost close to $100 for a day of skiing on a mountain populated by thousands. You can even heli-ski here — at $159 a trip — a whole day is at least a third less than at any other resort. And the inns and hotels in town are modestly priced too.

“It’s scenery equal to other famous resorts but with Branson, Missouri, prices,” says Michael Constantine, who owns the nine-room B&B Inn of the Rockies where we stayed, enjoying probably the best B&B breakfast I’ve ever had (quiche with seven vegetables and five kinds of cheese!). “The mountain is one of a kind,” says Constantine, who has served as a Silverton ski patroller. “It has more snow and less people than any mountain in North America.”

That may be why last season snowboard champion Shaun White’s sponsors built him an Olympic-size Superpipe at 12,000 feet where he could practice new tricks for the upcoming Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Another plus: The kids will have to hang with you because there’s really nowhere to go apres ski. There are only a handful of restaurants in town and they closed by 8:30 p.m. There is also Kendall Mountain — very small and very cheap — $10 lift tickets — which is ideal for young kids or adults who are just learning to ski and want to have some fun in the snow.