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The Quietest Ski Town: Silverton, Colorado

That comforting quiet of just being fully and unapologetically present.

By: Holly Mandarich + Save to a List

I’ve done my fair share of traveling on the Northern American continent and I’ve never had an experience like the one I had in Silverton, Colorado.

I’m a 4th year skier. So as you can imagine, the thought of skiing some of the steepest, expert, in bounds (sort of) terrain in Colorado scared me, but nonetheless, I’m willing to try anything once. 

We ended up in Silverton the third week of February (the trip was a birthday gift for my favorite human), we rented an adorable VRBO in town. I was going to say downtown, but it’s all so small it wouldn’t make sense. We even brought the dogs, being that the place was pet friendly. 

Entering town I felt the strangest sensation, the best way to describe it was quiet but warm. No stoplights in the town, just a main drag with a population of about 600 year round residents. It’s a quiet I had never felt before, a comforting quiet. Don’t get me wrong, there has been plenty of times I’ve found myself in a quiet space with no sounds, but sometimes that brings anxiety, it’s almost like I need some white noise. But this, this was just so different, so magical. It’s like that moment when you’re about to fall asleep and you’re so relaxed you just slip away. 

We stayed in town two nights. The first night we went out to dinner at a little place called the Pickle Barrel, walking in at about 7pm, there wasn’t a soul there other than the wait staff, who were this couple that had just moved up from Montrose. We sat right next to the fireplace -- YES, a fireplace! When was the last time you sat next to an authentic fireplace in a restaurant -- had a lovely meal, and chatted up our waitress. Again, just being baffled at the fact that we had what felt like this entire mountain town to ourselves. 

The next morning we woke up and made our way to the mountain, snow falling and a sense of calmness casting over everything. Upon arriving, we were divided up into groups and started our day with a safety briefing and chat. That day of skiing was the best day of skiing I’ve ever had in my life, not because I skied some of the most “real deal” stuff I ever had, but because of the way the mountain made me feel. Our guide was this fabulous lady named Kim. I want to be her when I grow up. I was timid but not scared per say, and she made me feel like I could do anything. I had never felt so empowered by another human being in the outdoor world. Most of the outdoor world these days is all about competition; you have to be the best, most gnarly person out there or what’s the point - right? NO! I was treated with respect and given pointers that helped me tweak a few things that made my day and my skiing that much better. This was a human who saw the potential rather then the errors, and was willing enough to share. 

It was the whole group dynamic as well, every human who was apart of our endeavor that day was there and respectful of the mountains. Sure, we could have gone in a slightly faster paced group to “get after it” but this dynamic and why we we’re all there was to enjoy what mother nature had to offer and to respect the presence of the mountains. Most of the day we skied one by one, with a few exceptions of party lines. There was this moment where our guide had skied to the mid point of this run to peer over the edge - she then proceeded to have everyone ski one-by-one past her. I was the last standing at the beginning of the run, high atop of this mountain above tree-line, all elements exposed, snow blowing, wind whipping, and the next thing I know I couldn’t see a damn thing, my guide was on the other side of the whiteout, but never once for a second did I feel afraid or scared. It was just such a surreal moment. The wind cleared a bit, I skied over to our guide and down the run happy as could be. But that moment atop that mountain I felt that quiet again. That comforting quiet of just being fully and unapologetically present. 

I took four runs that day, our group totaled with five runs, but I was whipped. We ended our day at the mountain with a few beers in the tent. Conversing with newly made friends and thanking our guide for an unforgettable experience. 

Finding our way back into town with a good meal, we retired at our cottage for the night.

The next morning we awoke to get a few last glimpses of the quiet. Walking the dogs, catching the sunrise and the purple light, I didn’t want to leave. This place had magic here. Unlike anything I had ever experienced. I didn’t want to come back to my ego-filled, charge-harder town (cough cough the truck stop off I70 - not to say it isn’t great, but it can get old). I wanted to stay here among people who understood nature the way I did. In a place that was all about being present. 

It wasn’t until we were back home that I realized I had not taken a single photo of us skiing on the mountain. My motive for adventures is to document everything. I love it, photography is a passion of mine. But I was so present in my day, I didn’t even have the time to take a photo of us on the mountain. I was able to capture a few from our time in town, but that's it. And I wouldn’t trade the feelings I had for the documentation of it. The experience was truly something out of the ordinary. 

I suggest if you’re looking for that healing quiet to make some time to ski and stay in Silverton, Colorado. 


See and hear about more of my adventures here.

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