Trip Report: Silver Couloir on Buffalo Mountain in Frisco, CO
Long-time customer and regular contributor Ben White is in Utah for the summer…which comes a LOT later out west than it does here in the east. Check out the sweet backcountry run Ben took in Colorado just two weeks ago.
The weather report was for afternoon showers and thunderstorms, so we got an early start. Leaving from Winter Park at about six in the morning, George and I drove an hour and a half to Frisco to meet his friend Preston at the trailhead.
We began our ascent by booting for a very short while before the snow became consistent enough to skin. We rambled around in the trees, and as things got steeper and the tree wells got more prominent, the skinning got a little trickier.
Once the trees ended, we cruised up to the summit of Buffalo Mountain at 12,700 feet. We were ready to ski down for a great descent before Preston had to go to work.
The way down was interesting. There were a lot of runnels caused by sloughing from previous skiers as well as a layer of dust that had blown over from Utah in a big wind event.
A long consistent 3000 vertical feet of skiing emptied out into a large clearing where years of avalanches had knocked all the vegetation down, and that is where the traverse began.
The route to ski the Silver is a loop. Beginning at the cars, you climb through some trees on a trail, which gives way to skinning up a face above treeline, summiting if you want and dropping over the other side of the mountain into the couloir. After skiing the couloir, you must traverse around to complete the loop. There is a hiking trail that does a fine job of pointing people in the right direction, as George and Preston know, however, we did not find it. We spent a couple of hours following an aqueduct and bushwhacking. There were too many blowdowns and obstacles to skin, but the snow was the perfect depth for post-holing. After a nice adventure wandering around, we finally got back to the cars and promptly got burgers and burritos.
As far as how classic this line is, I am not quite sure. The line right next to it, Little Elvis, looks steeper, tighter and overall more wild to ski. However, the first thing you see coming out of the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 is Buffalo Mountain and the Silver Couloir is the most prominent looking line on it. It’s enough to get any tourists headed to the Vail area resorts excited about skiing. Popping out of the hole in the mountain, I was super stoked when I saw it. It’s eye-catching and inspiring, and if you know the exit plan, it’s probably one of the biggest lines you could ski right before going to work if you are a local. While not the gnarliest line on the mountain, it’s definitely the most eye-catching.