I had some misplaced perception that Silver Star was a small, skiers’ resort with lots of flats, so I was stunned when I got my first look at a trail map and realised I could ride four different mountain faces and over 3000 acres of natural snow.
Perhaps the ‘small’ comes from the feeling of close knit community that sets Silver Star apart from any resort I’ve visited in the past. Thanks to Sno’n’Ski I was able to discover this ‘small town, big mountain’ feel in a variety of ways at this beauty of a resort.
Cute, mid-mountain hamlet
The town itself is located at 1,609 metres on the mid mountain, and it’s a cute little hamlet with an early 1900s theme. The houses and shopfronts are required to be a minimum of three or four colours, and it’s a very pleasant setting for our small town story.
This is a shameless shout out to my instructor and guide Jesse Meow, who showed me how easy it is to fall in love with this mountain. I can only assume that all the ski and snowboard instructors are equally as awesome, because Jesse knew every one that we met on the lift or slopes and they all had a tip; in fact, this story wouldn’t exist without them.
The Silver Star retail and rental scene is headed up by local snowboarding enthusiasts, which is reflected in the awesome fleet. I was excited to see brands such as YES, Gnu, Never Summer and Burton in the rental line up - don’t you love it when rentals are better than your own gear?
Big foot’s Post Box
I can’t find any mention of it on line, but Jesse told me about a red post box under the Comet Chairlift, which apparently belongs to Big Foot. Children can write him letters, and if they’re lucky they might even receive a reply.
There’s a rumour among ski bums that Silver Star is a skiers mountain with a lot of flats, but the trail map says otherwise. The back side of the mountain boasts line after line of beautiful black diamonds just waiting to be shredded, and there’s a good reason why the old-timer mountain hosts have reverted to snowboards. Although I didn’t get to hit it, Jesse promises that Kirkenheimer is “the best run you’ll ever do in your life”, due to its hard to find location and natural half pipe feel that dissuades skiers.
Everyone knows everyone...
Not only do all the instructors know each other, they also know all the lifties, the people in the rental store and the staff in the cafes. This is not normal for a ski town, and creates a charming small town atmosphere where a cheery ‘hello’ from a stranger is not a rarity.
... But it’s not cliquey
You might think such a tight team of staff would create a cliquey environment, but that’s not the case. Silver Star actively recruits a diversity of nationalities, and this multicultural line-up makes the crew much more approachable and open to meeting randoms.
Out of Bounds Cafe
One of the best tips I got from Jesse was where to eat lunch. I trooped into Out of Bounds Cafe and told them Jesse had sent me, which was met with grins and affectionate eye rolls from the staff. There was no eye rolling when it came to my donair kebab though; for just over ten bucks it’s one of the best value meals I’ve had on the mountain, and the Banana Mocha was to die for.
Secret snowy mountain bike trails
The Silver Star slopes are riddled with over 50 km of mountain biking trails, which make for super fun detours off the main runs. The catch is that the summer and winter trail maps don’t match up, so you have follow a local to find the secret spots!
I visited in early March, in the thick of Canadian school holidays, right after a week of massive dumps... but there was no one there. There is so much mountain to be had that I barely had to pause when riding into the lift line, and on several occasions I cruised down the long, dreamy slopes with no interruption. Heaven.
Little did I think there would be a cosy gastro pub waiting beneath the day lodge, complete with crackling fireplace, live tunes and beautifully presented meals. I could have quite happily spent the whole night quaffing Caesars by the fire if it wasn’t shaping up to be a pow day the next morning.