This story originally published in the September 2016 issue of POWDER (Vol. 45 Issue 1). PHOTO: Crystal Sagan
The Who: Come to Silverton Mountain any day of the season and there's a solid chance you'll see Brian Phelps earning extra gnar points under the mountain's only chairlift. The Durango local spends the winter skiing in snowblades and a vintage one-piece and spring skiing in--you guessed it--his birthday suit. As the unofficial leader of Silverton's unofficial naked ski team, Phelps encourages first timers and rallies repeat offenders for another lap. Any and all are welcome, though the male-to-female ratio is predictably, shall we say, heavy on the sausage.
The What: There's no set plan, meeting spot, or time for naked skiing at Silverton (or anywhere else for that matter), and crew size varies depending on how ballsy your friends are. Terrain ranges from challenging to technical, which translates to absolutely terrifying once nether regions come out to play at 12,300 feet. Most skiers are careful to protect their assets and tend to stick to a slightly more predictable line under the lift. Terrain is more forgiving, you're guaranteed to have an audience, and trees on either side of the run mean you'll find coverage if you decide to bail. "The goal is to ski at the end of the day when it's corned up, hot-dog style," says local Liz Schwab. Either way you'll have a new appreciation for Gore-Tex. Trust me, your nipples will be so hard they hurt.
The Why: In the end, Silverton's naked skiing comes down to two things. First, skiers in Silverton are serious about skiing--and not much else. There are no frills and no bull, just some steep lines, deep snow, and a bunch of folks who've been cooped up in a tiny town of 600 all winter. Second, as big resorts scoop up the small ones and turn them into corporate clones like a real-life game of Monopoly, privately owned ski areas--and their die-hard locals--are digging their heels in to maintain their identities. In Silverton, they strip down, expose themselves freely, and jump into spicy lines sans pants.
There are some things you just don't need to know, like how much flippidy flopping Johnsons are subjected to when they're exposed and halfway down a skied-out, bumpy lift line.
The WTF: At the beginning of April, the end of the mountain's guided season beckons the demise of outerwear. Prepare your blinders. At the sight of the first pasty white ass, you're all, Hey! A naked skier, that's funny! After the third one in a row, you can't help but watch as tiny, purple, shrunken appendages (akin to miniature eggplants) flop hither and thither, and it becomes more of a, Why...?
By the fourth or fifth naked skier, you (almost) can't bring yourself to watch. In the end you're left sad, confused, and repenting to the god of skiing after witnessing an end-over-end reverse-scorpion crash complete with the flashing of body parts not intended for use while skiing--like the asshole.
There are some things you just don't need to know, like how much flippidy flopping Johnsons are subjected to when they're exposed and halfway down a skied-out, bumpy lift line. But mainly, what your now naked ski partner's tea bag looks like from behind as he bends over to buckle his boots.
Word to the wise, bad naked is a real thing. Be careful who you ski with.