There are currently only two lift-serviced places to ski in Silverton, CO. When juxtaposed to one another, they are polar opposites. On one end is the family-friendly, Kendall Mountain- the kind of place where tots strap skis to their feet for the first time and adorably pizza their way down the hill. On the other end is the expert-only, Silverton Mountain- an area with only one lift that gives skiers and riders side-country access to incredible couloirs, huge cliffs, and rugged, steep skiing.
Between these two ski areas, there is no middle ground. As a result, intermediate skiers and riders are left with no choice but to head to other resorts such as Telluride or Purgatory. Lately, there has been discussion surrounding the idea of potential expansion at the humble Kendall Mountain.
The suggestion of expansion has been met with a mixture of reactions from the local Silverton community. On one hand, expansion of the resort would theoretically draw a larger audience of skiers to Silverton and thus stimulate the economy. On the other hand, there is significant concern that this expansion could trigger a real estate boom, forever changing the cultural landscape of the beautifully small ski town.
Finding the delicate balance between stimulating the local economy and avoiding the gross-corporatization of Silverton will undeniably prove difficult. Although, that doesn’t mean it can’t be accomplished. Silverton Community Relations Manager, Lisa Branner, stated that any expansion would prioritize a “community first” approach.
At this point, no plans of expansion are set in stone, however, the town is taking initial steps to commence the process. Last month, a local committee met to seek potential partners to aid in the financing of this expansion. One of the possible partners could be Mountain Capital Partners, whose portfolio includes Purgatory and Hesperus, both of which, are resorts in the same general region.
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Additionally, the town of Silvertown contracted SE Group- a research firm that specializes in ski resorts. According to the SE group, Kendall Mountain could handle expansion anywhere between 300- 800 acres of terrain. The cost of this growth is obviously dependant upon the size in which Kendall Mountain expands, although an 800-acre expansion is ballparked around $25 million.
The process of expansion in Silverton is on-going, and it will likely take some time before any serious action, if any, occurs. Only time will tell if Silverton can sustainably expand and simultaneously resist the corporate-cultural shift in which so many other small ski-towns have fallen victim.