Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Had breakfast in Silverton at the one cafe open, sharing the packed joint with all other skiers heading up to the mountain that day. Drove up the dirt road in the side valley and arrived at Silverton Mountain with their single lift. What's different about the place is that it goes straight up 1,900 feet with only advanced/expert terrain to find your way back down. Big bowls, chutes and tree runs. Shovel, avalanche probe and avalanche beacon are required equipment. Extreme terrain! The "lodge" is a funky fabric covered frame hut containing old beat-up furniture, a wood stove and a drop ceiling made of duct taped plastic designed to catch and redirect the drips of melting snow off the inhabitants. The bar was the only "food" service offered.

The snow was fairly good on the very top of the mountain, but once you dropped down a few hundred feet it became crusted and icy as a result of the lack of recent accumulations and the sun they had yesterday. So not only the steep slopes were tough, the snow conditions made the job of getting down even more difficult. The sun never came out to soften things up so it was icy all day. Some of the runs had names like Concussion Woods, Hell's Gate, Nightmare and Mandatory Air.

The most memorable run was down Curly, a tree run on the face referred to as the Three Stooges. If you remember, Curly had no hair, while the run was real hairy. Patches of sun crusted snow made turning in the tight trees on the steep slope difficult. Then there were the occasional cliff bands that had to be navigated around. I was exhausted by the time I reached the bottom. A few more runs like that and I was done for the day. Got back to the car and had an early dinner in Silverton. Drove over Molas and Coal Bank Passes to find a camp site in a turnout alongside a snow covered meadow on the Old Lime Creek Road.

Cold on the way up
Legs pump on steep crusty snow
Burn on the way down

Cliff banded forest
Look out over the steep slope
Can touch the tree tops

Thick tree trunked forest
Buried in sun crusted snow
Heart filled with terror

High mountain top cirque
Holds a smooth blanket of snow
Glaciers long vanished

Scared for their silver
Valley's wounds of orange rock
Lifeless creeks flow red

Snow turns dirty brown
Patches of dead grass appear
Winter in retreat

Back to the Van Hagar era! This night's concert was part of the Balance tour, dubbed the Ambulance Tour by Eddie because of the hip and neck injuries sustained by both he and Alex. After this tour, Sammy Hagar departed from the band, to be replaced by Gary Cherone in 1997, only to return for a "reunion tour" in 2003/2004. This particular concert was held on March 20, 1995 at the Orlando Arena in Florida very early in that tour. Sound quality of the audience bootleg was very good, as was the set list that included both Sammy and Dave era hits. I was rockin that night, happy to have survived in one piece after skiing Silverton Mountain! Sorry, too tired to come up with any Halen haiku.

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