Purgatory Resort Terrain


Purgatory Resort Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Vertical (ft)
    8,793 – 10,822 (2,029)
  • Average Snow Fall
    260 inches
  • Lifts (11)
    1  Six pack
    2  Fast quads
  • Ski Season
    late Nov to early Apr
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 105
    Acres – 1,605
    Longest run – 1.3mi
    Beginner - 20%
    Intermediate - 45%
    Advanced - 30%
    Expert - 5%

Ski Purgatory Resort Terrain

The Purgatory Ski Resort seems larger than its statistic of 1,605 acres, in part because there are 105 trails packed into the area.

Purgatory Resort is absolute bliss for intermediate riders, particularly strong intermediates. Ski Purgatory for the many groomers that have terraces, rollers and banks, so there’s plenty of super fun to had whilst hooning down the rollercoaster slopes. There are a couple of runs with warnings to indicate that jumping is not allowed (unfortunately you can’t be a speed demon down Demon), but otherwise you can succumb to the temptation of catching air off the rollers.

Purgatory Resort is also well suited to kids and beginners. Advanced riders will have to be fans of moguls or groomers; otherwise they’ll feel like they’re stuck in purgatory because the variety is limited, and there isn’t much true expert terrain to keep experts entertained for long.

Purgatory Ski Resort has three main areas. The ski zone above the Columbine base area has most of the beginners’ runs and the tubing hill. Up from the Purgatory Village base area is the front side that has a variety of runs for different ability levels. The third area, the backside, features blue, black and double black runs. The BD&M Expressway travels from the back side to the front side, but the trail is inappropriately named as there’s nothing express about it. Considering the many flat spots on the trail, snowboarders may want to borrow some ski poles or befriend a skier to give them a tow.

Purgatory Resort is not a highly trafficked ski resort like the big boys on I70, but you certainly wouldn’t describe it as uncrowded. You’ll need to use your elbows a little bit on a powder day, and expect lift lines on holidays, as you would elsewhere in the USA.

Purgatory Resort Lifts

The lay-out of the lifts is well done and lifts include an express 6-pack chair lift servicing the main front face, and 2 detachable quad chairs on the backside, with the upgraded Legends lift being a very welcome change. All other lifts are fixed grip and a little slow.

The chair lifts have names as well as numbers that are used interchangeably, so occasionally orientation gets a little confusing.

Lift Tickets

The lift tickets aren’t the cheapest in Colorado but they are significantly more economical than the big-named commercial ski resorts, and inexpensive enough to make this ski resort popular with families.

Purgatory Snow and Weather

The best Purgatory snow is commonly in February and March, and early in the season the resort often relies heavily on snowmaking on the main trails. Purgatory receives an average of 260 inches of snow per season, which is less than the average for a Colorado ski resort and much lower than nearby Wolf Creek and Silverton. As a plus for the snow, there are lots of runs with a north facing aspect.

Ski Purgatory - Beginners

Purgatory is a great resort for beginners and it has good progressions from one level to the next. For the little kiddies there is the covered magic carpet that on exit has a non-slip mat to allow an easy traverse. This learning area also has little play features.

The main novice ski area is below the main village. The lifts that ascend from the Columbine base area are for beginners only, so they can learn there without intimidation. Once they “graduate” the next step is the #4 lift in an area largely dedicated to beginners. More confident beginners can ascend lift #2 and then go to the backside of the mountain.

Intermediate Ski and Snowboard Terrain

With 45% of the trails devoted to intermediate riders, Purgatory Resort is absolutely perfect for blue runners. Lower end intermediates trying to perfect their technique may find challenges on some of the runs that have rollers and banks, but there are plenty of runs with no camber to practise drills.

The greatest concentration of popular intermediate terrain is off #3 lift, which is an express quad chair. The Boogie and Peak runs are plenty of fun, almost like a natural terrain park or mini boarder cross course. Dead Spike off #5 is often split groomed and a good place to attempt bumps, whilst Chet’s off #8 is a beautiful groomer where you won’t have to compete with the crowds.

Terrain Parks

Purgatory has multiple terrain parks for different ability levels. The Paradise Terrain Park has big hits for the big boys including a halfpipe, whilst the Pitchfork Terrain Park has a variety of hits and big air jumps.

Advanced Skiing Purgatory

Check out the daily grooming report because sometimes a few of the black runs are groomed to form a great speedway. Pandemonium on the front face is sometimes split groomed, but avoid the temptation of showing off on the bumps. First-hand experience would suggest that this can lead to pandemonium!

Advanced skiers will need to love moguls as this is mainly what’s on offer at Purgatory. The Bull Run is the most infamous bumps run. It starts off as a single black diamond slope and it lulls you into a false sense of security. You can bail out at the Legends run or continue where it flattens out and really tricks you into thinking it’s a mellow run. The double black diamond status then kicks in where the slope steepens and the bumps grow and go on and on.

Other than bumps, there is some tree skiing, but as the trees are rather widely spaced there are usually moguls in the glades too.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Purgatory Resort has a little bit of expert terrain, which consists of a few cut runs which bump up quickly, or there are a few small gladed zones such as the nice McCormack’s Maze. Monkey Gully, Monkey Brains, and Monkey Launch Chutes are depicted on the trail map as extreme terrain. This zone is definitely challenging, although be mindful that this zone is outside the resort boundaries and not controlled or patrolled. This may seem rather silly that it’s not just part of the resort considering the resort did glading work in there, but apparently if avalanche control work was undertaken it may shed snow onto adjoining private lands or some such other logistical challenge.

Experts looking for a range of terrain or lots of really challenging terrain are likely to be a bit disappointed with Purgatory Resort. But don’t fear, Silverton Mountain is just down the road and there’s enough seriously scary terrain there to keep your palms sweaty for days.