The Anvil Mountain anchors the south end of a 12,000 feet peak ridge to the east of US 550, south of Red Mountain Pass. The town of Silverton is located below this mountain.
Peaks from the top of Red Mountain Pass are:
Red Mountain # 3
Elevation 3,818 meters = 12,526 feet
Difficulty skiing Black Diamond
Ascent/Descent 2400 + feet
Mileage 3 miles
Time 3 hrs
Trailhead: is 5 miles North of Highway 550 from the Y intersection in Silverton (if driving from Durango, 48 miles distance), or 16 miles south of Ouray. The parking spot for Anvil is the partly plowed entrance to the Ophir Pass Road. Do not block the road as it is used in the winter to access an electrical substation. The route starts directly across the highway on the east side of 550. There is usually a visible trail.
Route: After crossing the highway you are standing in a narrow gully that is the bottom of an avalanche path. Duck into the trees to your right (south), there was an obvious trail when I was there. Follow nearly flat terrain east, then south for about 1000 yards, then start looking to your right. Your goal is to get up on top of the timbered ridge. The first few hundred feet of climbing are steep with tight trees. After that it becomes easier. Your goal is to pop out of timberline at 11,800 feet. From where you popped out of the trees, the summit is abotu 600 feet more climbing and relatively easy to achieve, although it can require ski crampons (we did not use it), or booting up.
Descent There are several options for the descent. We chose the path called Cement Fill. From the summit of Anvil look West. You are looking down, and over the Cement Fill slide path. The Cement Fill runs directly to the road, Highway 550, and in stable conditions is an excellent, consistently angled run (about 33-39 degrees). It is very committing, once you start skiing there is not place to hide. Always check avalanche forecast. From the bottom of the Cement Fill is is just over a mile back up Highway 550 to your parking lot. We were lucky, I got a ride to my car, and came back for my ski partner.
Silverton is a former silver mining camp, most of the town is now designated as National Historic Landmark District. The town population was 531 at US Census in 2000, and during the winter it feels like a ghost town. The summer brings many tourists to this area, especially via Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Some skiing images
Tom Kelly, my ski partner (and the guy who knows the area really well) brought his dog Felix, and of course I had Duchess in the car. Tom told me a story of Felix's mom - she was a climbing dog Biscuit featured in a climbing film "Front Range Freaks" by Sender Films. Below is a you tube shot of Biscuit climbing in Eldorado Canyon, Colorado. Her fate was very sad. Tom went camping and left both Biscuit and her son Felix in his truck with the door open, so they could get out in the middle of the night. He found Felix the following morning, and only a few remains of Biscuit with the tracks of a mountain lion around.
We left our dogs in my car - they made it so messy!