“It’s the next step,” said Jenn Brill from a couch nestled inside a canvas yurt – Silverton Mountain’s wood burning base lodge at 10,400 feet. Deep in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, Silverton Mountain, and the town it’s named after are rugged and course: raw Rocky Mountains. Skiing here is a different kind of experience. “When a person comes here, they expect to be challenged,” Brill said.

Since she and her husband, Aaron Brill, founded Silverton Mountain, America’s only lift-served extreme ski area, she has seen an influx of skiers and snowboarders. Once a trickle and now arriving in droves, they endure brutal temperatures and gale force winds at a ski area located beyond the glam and the dining, the gift shops and valet parking of your more common Colorado resort. All for a shot at some of the best skiing in the nation, if not the world. “At Silverton, we’re all about the terrain,” Brill said. Outside the yurt, the only chair, a hand-dug, vintage double drifts by, taking riders up another 2,000 feet, where they can have at a mountain surrounded by peaks that crash into each other like waves in an ocean.

Most of the prime season is guided only, where seasoned staffers find a custom tailored mountain experience for small groups. Hell’s Gate, Rope Dee, Cabin, The Billboard, Concussion. Guided or unguided – You can’t miss these areas, and at this mountain, hike-to runs are what it’s all about.

“I think people are intimidated to come up to Silverton Mountain, and we certainly build up the hype,” Jenn Brill said. “But it really is the next step for many skiers and snowboarders out there.”

If you’re not afraid of a little alpine ridge boot packing, you can over hit 13,000 feet before you drop in.

Don’t worry, there’s a fixed rope for the scary parts.