They said it was the storm of the century.
On Wednesday we watched the weather as it fell by the feet, crossing our fingers and hoping it would roll into Colorado. On Thursday, the storm blew east, dropping over a foot in 24 hours in the Colorado mountains. Powderhounds throughout the state rejoiced—us included, with reservation. We were stoked that the ski areas on I-70 were getting dumped on, but I-70 wasn’t our destination. Our sights were set southwest of Summit County, way southwest. So far southwest, in fact, that we would be closer to New Mexico than to Vail Pass.
Can you guess where we were headed? Silverton Mountain, Colorado.
The storm flirted with us. It was headed to Silverton, and then it wasn’t. And then it was. And then it stayed. And stormed. And stormed. And stormed.
The storm coated the roads and blocked the visibility and made us—a pack of women, of powder whores, of chicks—giddy with excitement. We threw our fattest skis and warmest coats in our cars and trucks, kissed our people goodbye, and drove into the blizzard.
And when we finally arrived in Silverton, perhaps the most remote ski area in Colorado, in the dark on Friday evening, we could barely sleep. That’s how excited we were.
The next morning was a flurry of packing our Osprey Kodes with shovel, probe, water and food, slapping our beacons on our body, and storming the “lodge,” a.k.a. the yurt-like tent at Silverton. We got there as early as humanly possible even though the lifts don’t start running until 9 because we wanted to be part of it. We told ourselves that we would be telling this story forever: we hit Silverton in that epic blizzard in early February 2014.
We were there for Alison Gannett’s Keen Rippin Chix Steeps Camp, the anti-you-go-girl camp. This is a no-frills clinic for women who already charge and who want to fine tune their form and technique to schralp steep, technical slopes with confidence.
And charge we did.
The first run was like this: turn, face shot. Turn again, face shot again. Turn some more, until our quads begged for a break and the giggles and woops and yeehaws were as copious as the snow. Stop for a quick breather. Charge again. Turn and get another face shot.
It is not an exaggeration to say that these were the best conditions most of us have skied. (Alison and our lovely guide, Kim, are lucky enough to have jobs that fly them to places where these conditions are more the norm and less the exception.)
Our group stood out from the rest of the Silverton crowd, which was made up of men, large and small, young and old. For one, we were bright, a rainbow of pinks and blues and yellows and greens. For another, we were entirely an XX crew. Not an XY among us.
Ask anyone, and there’s something unique that happens when you get a group of women together and coalesce them around a common goal. In this case the common goal was to farm as many fresh tracks as possible in the two days we had to ski. Sure, we wanted to learn and improve our technique, which we did. But mainly we wanted to ski pow.
And ski pow we did.
By the end of the trip, exhausted and elated, some of our group ruminated that they might never return. They had hit Silverton at its absolute best, with 36 inches of fresh and a stellar group of skiers.
That’s one way to look at it. Here’s another: if it was this good now, it will be this good again. The rest of us are coming back, that’s for sure. We may not hit it during the next storm of the century, but then again, we might. We’ll keep watching the weather and when the signals align, we’ll pack up and kiss our people goodbye.
Then we’ll go kill it, again, on the Silverton steeps. After all, that’s what skiers do.