“Classic line on Buffalo Mtn in Summit County, Colorado.”
— Andrew Yon
Type: Backcountry or Sidecountry
Need to Know
Ice ax and ski crampons are a good idea if the surface is hard.
This route starts at the Buffalo Cabin trailhead at the top of Ryan Gulch Rd in Silverthorne. This route does not climb up the couloir.
Follow the (usually) well-tracked trail passed the 4-way trail intersection [~0403940 4386558] and up to the Buffalo cabin remains. At around 10,400 ft [~0403547 4386072], go left off the summer trail and begin to climb southwesterly and then westerly up the somewhat steep east side of Buffalo Mtn. You're aiming for the "mushroom stem"**. Reach treeline at around 11,500 ft [~0402828 4386045] and head left up and over the mushroom cap. Switchback through this area until the slope eases considerably on top of the cap. The summit is obvious from there and the route up easy. It's not necessary to go to the summit, but ski from the summit if the snow is continuous.
The Silver Couloir starts .25 miles north of the summit. The entry is at the top of a broad "Y". Most start down the skier's left of the "Y", at around 12,500 ft [~0401980 4386235]. There's no mistaking the route from there; it's 2,700 uninterrupted feet down. The pitch may briefly hit 45 degrees in a couple spots, but not more and there's plenty of space left-to-right.
Ski down to around 9,765 ft [~0402941 4387127] and cut right into the trees. Look for tracks and contour around until the first opening in the trees (an old avalanche path). Pick up the exit route that follows the top of an old canal. Follow it around approximately .3 miles where the trail leaves the canal [~0403401 4387014] and begins to climb east and then southeast out of the drainage. Your legs will feel this short but annoying climb. At the obvious top of the climb, cross a small rocky avalanche path and then continue to the 4-way trail intersection that you passed through earlier on the way up. Ski or boot from there back to the trailhead.
Summary : 5.2 miles, 3,435 ft., 4.0-4.5 hours (avg pace)
**If you don't know what the "mushroom" is, take a look at Buffalo Mtn from almost anywhere in Dillon in the winter and look for the obvious right-leaning avalanche scar with a large rocky outcrop at the top that together form a mushroom. The summer trail goes over the mushroom's cap. There are actually two mushrooms on Buffalo; the other one is on the viewer's left, not relevant for this tour.