2 - 3
FATMAP difficulty grade
The Birthday Chutes are a pair of wide, 35-degree chutes on the shoulder of Silver Mountain, near Telluride Ski Resort.
They offer some of the most reliable backcountry skiing in the Telluride area, holding cold snow long after storms due to their shady aspect, high elevation, and protection from the wind.
Easily accessible from the ski area boundary, the Birthday Chutes are a classic intermediate tour with short approach.
The chutes themselves sit in Alta Lakes Basin, which is immediately adjacent to Prospect Basin and Telluride Ski Area.
The basin is formed by the steep, rocky walls of Palmyra Peak and Silver Mountain, both of which reach over 13,000 feet in elevation.
These peaks are unskiable except for two steep couloirs that split the rugged face of Silver Mountain, and the bowl below the peaks provides exceptional ski touring for intermediate skiers.
The Birthday Chutes allow skiers to descend from 12,200 feet on the broad west ridge of Silver Mountain to the highest Alta Lake, almost 1,000 feet below.
Alta Lakes was a hub for mining activity in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and relics of the area’s history are evident along the tour.
The lakes are surrounded by old cabins and mining buildings in disrepair, and skiers also skin past the famous trestle that juts out from the mountainside into the sky.
Once in the bowl below the high peaks, the Birthday Chutes becon to be skied.
It is easiest to skin up the eastern chute, and either ski that back down, or walk along the ridgeline to the western chute and ski that.
With plenty of room for fresh tracks, head up for another run, or ski down to the lake via Trestle Shot to admire your turns from below.
These chutes are prime avalanche terrain, and should only be explored in times of good stability.