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Dec

31

2019

Make That Pass Count

The mega passes, which let you ski multiple destinations and local ski areas off one (or two or more) comprehensive passport, have fundamentally changed skiing and snowboarding.

The mega passes, which let you ski multiple destinations and local ski areas off one (or two or more) comprehensive passport, have fundamentally changed skiing and snowboarding. Whether you shred 100 days a year or 15, you’re now free to chase storms to the bucket list mountains you’ve been dreaming about for decades but could never quite pull off because you felt obligated to the sunk cost of your pathetic one-mountain pass. There’s been some localized blowback to this trend as big snow years, a strong economy, and cheap skiing have turned out the crowds, but the benefits to individuals and the sport as a whole, outweigh the negatives. As the T-shirt says: Get over it. And get out there and ski someplace new this season. This guide to what’s new will help. 

by Lisa Jhung, Matt McDonald, Dave Cox, Sarah Peruzzi, Marc Peruzzi 

 

Aspen Mountain, Colorado

Stats: Acres: 675 | Vertical: 3,267’| Snowfall: 300” 

What’s New: Forbes Five-Star, ski-in/ski-out hotel, The Little Nell, renovated its lobby with an art-centric, modern living-room vibe. Ditto with the après ski bar—Chair 9—in spring 2019. (Editor’s note: the creative team has drank there but never stayed—swank.) The property’s Ajax Tavern also got a facelift. In town, a new 730-square foot Four Mountain Sports rental shop opens up in the new W Hotel at the mountain’s base, and will become the first in the industry to offer MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) technology for rental helmets.   

Powder Plan: “I go straight to Walsh’s,” says local Whit Boucher of the double-black shot that’s to the left off the gondy. Boucher has skied “pretty much every morning” all winter for the last eight years. “It’s steep, and has a big wind lip at the bottom that I like to hit. From the bottom of Walsh’s, rip around on the catwalk, past ‘The Couch’ (Gent’s Ridge Lift). Go straight to Jackpot, which is like a thousand feet of steep, fallline skiing. Once you ski that, go around to Kleenex corner, then ski Niagra, a short bump run. Then do the lap again.”  —L.J.  | photo Scott Markewitz

 

Alta, Utah

Stats: Acres: 2,614 | Vertical: 2,538’ | Snowfall: 575”

What’s New: The Snowpine Lodge opened in mid-February last winter. This year, Alta opens a new lift at Snowpine, giving all skiers more direct access to the beginner area. The lodge is also one of three at Alta that partners with ski school to offer performance ski camps for intermediate to advanced skiers focused on off-piste skiing and navigating Alta. Meals, video review, and yoga are included.

Powder Plan: Tell your friends you’ll see them out there, and hustle to the Supreme chair to blaze down steep tree-lined chutes and shots right under the lift. Alternatively, stay at the Wildcat Lift and take two traverses to Keyhole, to mine deep tree lines. Either way, keep your eyes and ears open for news on Devil’s Castle, accessed by a hike from the top of the Sugarloaf chair. “It’s wide open and steep up top,” says Patrick Pike, who works at the Peruvian Lodge.  —M.M. | photo Lee Cohen

 

Alyeska, Alaska

Acres: 1,600 | Vertical: 2,750’

Snowfall: 669”

What’s New: Alaska isn’t known for tree skiing. So this year, Alyeska improves access to one of the few zones at the resort where you can explore spruce and hemlock lines. Brush cutting and alder clearing in the notoriously thick forest in the North Face will open new windows and alleys, linking the lower terrain to the expert alpine chutes and mini-spines above.

Powder Plan: “Grab coffee early, and go straight to the tram,” says Alyeska’s digital media coordinator and Alaska native Bayne Salmon. Blast down Southface, where you can gap a chute into mellow tree powder, to Glacier Bowl Express. “That’s where you want to ski,” says Salmon. “On your first lap, don’t make a lot of turns. Hit stuff big. There are perfect transitions and great steep landings off five-to-fifteen foot drops.”  —M.M. | photo Ralph Kristopher

 

Big Sky, Montana

Stats: Acres: 5,850 | Vertical: 4,350’ | Snowfall: 400+”

What’s New: Last winter, Big Sky installed the nicest lift in skiing—a high-speed eight pack heated bubble chair that just rips. This winter they open The Exchange, a gathering place for shopping and dining in the newly reimagined Mountain Mall space. Improvements there bring a new food hall dubbed Vista Hall. Expect sushi, stone oven pizza, a grill, and a taqueria. Outside, new RFID technology at key lifts lets passholders access the hill even faster.

Powder Plan: On a big day, Nordica athlete and native Montanan—she’s running a ski camp for girls under 18 this winter—Maria Lovely chooses from two options: Get in the first tram bucket for first dibs on the Big Couloir, the famed banana shaped vertical highway that scars the face, or work the trees in Moonlight away from the powder panicked fiends. “If it’s a big morning, the locals will be standing in line at the Swift Current chair making coffee on Jet-Boils and breakfast on their camp stoves,” says Lovely. “You can smell the bacon as you walk up.” If it’s looking like the Tram will spin soon, Lovely rides Swift Current to Powder Seeker and then waits for the first can. “But if you’re not one for waiting,” says Lovely, “which often I’m not, head to Moonlight for epic tree skiing in the Lone Tree glades. That area is super fun to lap.”  —M.P.   | photo Jon Resnick

 

Banff Sunshine Village, Alberta

Stats: Acres: 3,358 | Vertical: 3,514 | Snowfall: 360

What’s New: Sunshine is connected with Banff’s other two independent ski areas, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay by SkiBig3, part travel agency and part alliance. So you can ski all three mountains on the same lift ticket or pass. This year, SkiBig3 opens an Adventure Hub in downtown Banff, so you can rent and return gear away from the on-mountain hustle. Complete the “Trifecta Challenge, and you get a free beer. Another bonus: If you forget your beacon and want to ski Sunshine’s gnarliest terrain, Delirium Dive, you can rent one on the hill.

Powder Plan: Start by banging out a bunch of quick laps down the short, feature-rich steeps of Mount Standish. As Patrol completes avy control, you’ll want to make haste over to Lookout Mountain and the chiseled chutes down The Shoulder. “It’s quite steep and gets wind loaded,” says Mike Hall, manager of Banff’s Rundlestone Lodge and a SkiBig3 ambassador. “If the resort gets 10 centimeters of fresh, it’s probably 30 centimeters deep in there.” Ski with one eye open, though: As soon as Wild West or Delirium Dive opens, you beeline. “Those are the primo spots.”  —M.M. | photo Reuben Krabbe

 

Breckenridge, Colorado

Stats: Acres: 2,908 | Vertical: 3,398’ | Snowfall: 300”

What’s New: The Peak 8 Base Area has been transformed with new skier services headquarters and relocated ticket windows, retail shop, and ski and snowboard school. There’s also a new outdoor ice skating rink, coffee shop, and transit stop. Peak 9 debuts the new tech-forward, ski-in/ski-out Gravity Haus Breckenridge boutique hotel taking the place of the old Village Hotel, and the resort’s wacky tradition—the Viking-inspired Ullr Fest—moves from January to December 11–15, 2019.   

Powder Plan: “I love to hike to the summit of Peak 8 from the top of the Imperial Express Chair and ride Imperial Bowl,” says 13-year-old local, Alina Cospolich, who rides for Team Summit Colorado as a competitive slopestyle snowboarder. “The snow is always good and not as many people go up there, so you can find some really good lines. The views are nice too;  you can see most of the peaks in Summit County.”  —L.J.  | photo Andrew Maguire/Vail Resorts

 

Crested Butte, Colorado

Stats: Acres: 1,547 | 2,775’ | Snowfall: 300”

What’s New: Some locals might have feared the news that Vail Resorts purchased this fabled steep-skiing mountain in southern Colorado, but one welcome improvement might allay some fear. The old Teocalli lift has been removed and a new lift has been repositioned so that skiers can now access the back side via the Red Lady Express.

Powder Plan: Once all avalanche control is complete, says pro skier and longtime CB resident Jay Prentiss, “roll off the Silver Queen and go straight to the High Lift. Hit Big Chute’s right side first to get ahead of everyone going to Headwall. Once you’re done bombing Big Chute, head straight to the North Face Lift. Spend the rest of the day hitting Spellbound Bowl—High Life, No Wive’s, Spellbound Glades—and Phoenix Bowl—Phoenix Steps, Staircase, Slot Rocks.”  —D.C.  | photo Dave Kozlowski Vail Resorts

 

Deer Valley

Stats: Acres: 2,026 | Vertical: 3,000’ | Snowfall: 300” 

What’s New: Upscale but skier friendly Deer Valley gets RFID technology and gantry gates allowing direct-to-lift access for all passholders, including those on the Ikon Pass. New digital signage at the base lodges will show up-to-date lift ops, grooming beta, and more. Snowmaking and grooming will show off a bunch of upgrades for the season, including five new fan guns, new low-energy guns, and four new Prinoth snowcats to turn that man-made into DV’s award winning corduroy. The new vehicles for transporting guests are, of course, Cadillacs.

Powder Plan: “A good place to hurry to would be X Files,” says Jillian Vogtli, two-time Olympian and part of the resort’s “Ski with a Champion” program. “You have to skate a hot minute through the trees and past the chutes off Empire lift, but you’ll find that you’re either by yourself skiing the fresh snow or you’ll hear a few shouts of joy from a couple of others who may have followed you into the quiet.” Or, hit the steep terrain of the Centennial Trees (they’re tight!) off Lady Morgan. “It’s a blast skiing through the majestic aspens,” says Vogtli.  —L.J.  | photo Eric Schramm

 

Aspen Highlands, Colorado

Stats: Acres: 1,040 | Vertical: 3,635’ | Snowfall: 300”

What’s New: Nothing, really, is new with Aspen Highlands for the 2019-20 season…and that’s just fine. The local’s hill among Aspen Ski Company’s four resorts last saw an update—a remodel of ski-in, ski-out Cloud Nine restaurant—in 2015. The newest addition to the mountain this season are the yellow lab puppies that started their training as patrol dogs last year. We like Highlands the way it is. But we’re cool with puppies.

Powder Plan: “People tend to have summit fever on Highland Bowl and insist on getting to the top and snapping their photo,” says Ted Mahon, who’s been a ski instructor for Aspen Ski Co. for 22 seasons. “But you pass a lot of really good lightly tracked runs in the areas known as the Y-zones and B-zones along the way. If you’re into exploring, do a few laps in Deep Temerity where there are tons of hidden glades and stashes that can keep you busy for days.”  —L.J. | photo Tamara Susa

 

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming

Stats: Acres: 2,500 | Vertical: 4,139’ | Snowfall: 459”

What’s New: The new Eagle’s Rest Quad becomes the fifth chair at the base and should alleviate congestion. Eagle’s Rest services Solitude Station, the posh 12,000-square foot ski school hub that opened last December. Also this season, JHMR is tapping into wind power as an environmentally friendly shift for its lifts, facilities, and base operations—100 percent of the resort’s energy will come from a renewable source.  

Powder Plan: “The crowds head to Sublet and Thunder on a powder day,” says Beau Brown, snowboard instructor and inbounds guide with JHMR, “so it’s smart to go to the other side to Après Vous, Teton Chair, and Casper Chair.” But, says Brown, pay attention to the weather. “If the wind is coming from the southwest,” he says, “the snow blows over the ridges and loads the north-facing slopes. Try north-facing Bivouac and the trees on either side, if you’re comfortable with a steeper tree run. Or try Cascade—or ‘Granny Chutes’—which faces a little bit south.”  —L.J.  | photo Jim Ryan

 

Loveland, Colorado

Stats: Acres: 1,800 | Vertical: 2,210’ Snowfall: 422”

What’s New: A year ago, Loveland made a splash by replacing the iconic Chair 1 with a high-speed quad that cut ride time up some of the mountain’s steepest terrain by more than half. The resort changes so infrequently that even that clear “win” was met with some grumbles from stingier locals. In the age of the mega-ski-pass, the freshest thing about Loveland this year could be that it continues to remain independent. Because of its connection with Powder Alliance, though, passholders get free bonus days at 18 partner resorts—another clear win.

Powder Plan: The bumped-up steeps under and adjacent to Chet’s Dream, formerly Chair 1, are where you start any powder day. “My best runs ever have been in waist deep powder under that chair,” says John Paul of Golden, a bootfitter at Powder7 and 30-year Loveland skier. After a few hot laps, rip over to Chair 9 to check the status of the summit terrain. Wild Child, a steep ramp between two rock bands, is Paul’s favorite. “If you get it with fresh snow, you’ve made it.” —M.M. | photo Casey Day

 

Jay Peak, Vermont

Stats: Acres: 385 | Vertical: 2,153’ | Snowfall: 349”

What’s New: Got some never-evers in your extended family? Jay rolls out its Ski Discovery program, which gives first-timers the chance to try skiing for a morning with a guarantee: You can opt in for an afternoon lesson if you like it or get your rentals and ticket refunded if you don’t. New this season, Jay also debuts Vennedag. Norwegian for “Friends Day,” Vennedag allows groups of friends or family to ski together regardless of ability with a guide/instructor.

Powder Plan: The key to Jay is exploring. “I can be happy in so many places on that mountain,” says Mike Murphy, owner of The Snow Job in Jay. “It’s crazy.” Murphy has been skiing Jay since the resort opened more than 50 years ago. His tip: sneak through a tight entrance into the trees between JFK and Wedelmaster for a mix of perfectly spaced birches and more scraggly, and usually fresh, pines. “There are a lot of fun whips in there, and the snow stays good.”  —M.M. | Courtesy photo

 

Steamboat, Colorado

Stats: Acres: 2,965 | Vertical: 3,668’ 

Snowfall: 328

What’s New: The big development at Steamboat this year sounds like this: $15 million gondola upgrade. With more cars, more power, and a slew of other cush features, the new gondola will boost uphill capacity by 38 percent, hopefully detonating the line that forms on powder days. In other news, Taco Beast, Steamboat’s mobile snowcat food truck, still offers the best eats value on the hill with five-dollar tacos. 

Powder Plan:  Former Olympic downhiller Caroline Lalive isn’t a fan of the adage “no friends on a powder day.” Having skied Steamboat for a quarter-century, she thinks Champagne snow tastes better shared. Her strategy? Link up with the crew and duck into the 230 trees off Thunderhead Express. Tucked away aspen lines hold fresh snow after many other spots get tracked. Slash some soul turns, and then get to the top of Storm Peak Express to hike to Lalive’s favorite Steamboat steeps: No Names.   —M.M. | photo Larry Pierce 

 

Snowbird, Utah

Stats: Acres: 2,500 | Vertical: 3,240’ | Snowfall: 500”

What’s New: With a 125-passenger Aerial Tram that deposits skiers at 11,000 feet in eight minutes, improved lifts aren’t an infrastructure necessity. Instead, this season Snowbird continues to focus on meeting sustainability goals and amping off-slope offerings. New this year, Snowbird’s SeventyOne restaurant—a reference to the Resort’s 1971 inception—features ’70s era kitsch décor, and menu items inspired by what is often dubbed the “Me Decade.”  Don’t worry, they cater to contemporary diners too—Vegan Meatloaf and Avocado Toast share the menu.   

Powder Plan: Local pro Marcus Caston generously shares his stripped-down take on making the most of a Snowbird powder day. “My first tip is to not overdress! You’ll be riding the Tram, and too many layers will make you overheat. You just need a shell.” Next, head posthaste to the Tram: “Take it to the top; listen for what’s going to open first, and wait for Baldy or Mineral. The Tram is your best bet to get to Cirque Traverse, but you’ll find something fresh all day. Keep exploring: there’s always something fresh down in the trees.” At day’s end, says Caston, head to the Tram Club for a $5 shot and beer, spicy cheesy fries, and to talk about your day.  —S.P.  | photo Chris Segal

 

Snowmass, Colorado

Stats: Acres: 3,342 | Vertical: 4,406’ | Snowfall: 300”

What’s New: Sam’s Restaurant, a new, modern Italian joint at the top of Sam’s Knob, will serve up rigatoni Bolognese and similar rustic fare. The base village opens a new community center complete with a fast-casual restaurant with a seasonal focus (Mix6) and bar (MoxiBar). On-mountain, Aspen Snowmass (and Aspen Highlands) will play host to the 2020 U.S. Alpine Tech Championships from March 28–3. And on the environmental front, ski patrollers are running a Taiga Motors electric snowmobile, and the mountain’s trail maps are printed on eco-friendly stone paper.

Powder Plan: “Hike past Longshot and ski Burnt Mountain,” says 18-year local John Pattillo who works for Snowmass’ guest services. “It’s a relatively short shot but it’s a lot of fun because it gets really deep.” Later, says Pattillo, hit the expert shot Powder Horn off the backside of Sam’s Knob. “It’s a steep double fall line—everything you’d want, it’s got. It’s super fun for the more adventurous.”  —L.J.  | photo Matt Power

 

Stowe, Vermont

Stats: Acres: 485 | Vertical: 2,360’ | Snowfall: 314”

What’s New: In 2017, Stowe joined Vail Resort’s empire, making them part of the ever-growing Epic Pass family. However, the longtime traditions and events locals and regulars have grown to love remain on the docket for the ’19/’20 season. Look for the 46th annual Stowe Winter Carnival in January which features a sanctioned ice carving competition, snowgolf, and kids events. Later, the Stowe Derby, a 20 kilometer cross-country ski race and one of the oldest ski races in North America, returns for its 74th year.  

Powder Plan: One of the best things about Stowe, according to Waterbury local Alex Showerman, is that the lifts start spinning at 8:00 in the morning. For the working wonks, that means you can score some turns before punching the clock. To beat the crowds, says Showerman, “The best days at Stowe are the ones that aren’t forecast. Skip the big storm hype and keep your eyes on the surprise storms.” His insider take: Avoid the expensive digs at Stowe and stay in Waterbury. The lodging is cheaper and the food is James Beard rated—scope out Hen of The Wood. Head to The Bench for awesome wood-fired pizza, or try out the newest under the radar beers from River Roost Brewery.  —S.P.  | photo Jesse Schloff 

 

Sunday River, Maine

Stats: Acres: 870 | Vertical: 2,340’ | Snowfall: 167”

What’s New: Sunday River continues its plan to double snowmaking capacity by installing new pumps and hydrants for winter 2020. Four new surface lifts also debut this winter: Three covered conveyors on South Ridge improves beginner access, and a T-bar on Locke Mountain streamlines training and race events and decreases congestion. 

Powder Plan: This winter, local Anne Rockwell is opening a taco truck seven miles down the road in Bethel—but she doesn’t plan to miss powder days. Her pro tip? “If the new snow is looking damp, head west immediately.” The higher terrain on the resort’s west side typically holds better snow. Rail smooth powder turns on Celestial before you dive off into the trees to link turns in pines and open hardwoods. “Everything’s pretty tight out there,” says Rockwell. So the crowds leave the fresh snow to you.  —M.M. | Courtesy photo 

 

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, California

Stats: Acres: 6,000 | Vertical: 2,850 | Snowfall: 450

What’s New: The notoriously slow Hot Wheels triple chair at Alpine Meadows is being replaced by a high speed quad. If you’ve skied Alpine, you know how big of a deal this is. The Treeline Cirque chair will drop skiers atop Sherwood Ridge, allowing direct access to the back side of the mountain. Getting to this terrain used to require a hike or a flat, 20-minute traverse. The lift cuts that to five minutes.   

Powder Plan: Jenna Belden has been skiing Squaw since her mom sold lift tickets to get the family on the hill. “My go-to is KT-22, she says. “There’s nothing better on the mountain.” When fresh snow stacks up, drop into Chute 75 and burn it down to the West Face steeps. Keep banking right, and get into Alternate Chutes, the types of steep, jagged corridors KT-22 is famous for. In high snow years, enter from the top of Big Balls and don’t screw up. Says Belden: “Nobody who’s an intermediate would ever find their way over there.”  —M.M.   | photo Jeff Engerbretson

 

Sun Valley, Idaho

Stats: Acres: 2,054 | Vertical: 3,400’ | Snowfall: 220”

What’s New: Sun Valley remains independently owned and operated, but this year they partner with Vail to offer Sun Valley and Snowbasin passholders deep discounts with the Epic Pass. March sees the return of the ever-popular Sun Valley Film Festival, and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame inductions. Expert skiers and boarders can preview the Bald Mountain Expansion by signing up for a free guided tour led by Sun Valley Ski Patrol and Snowsports Instructors that will open up 380 acres in the 20-21 season.   

Powder Plan: Most powder days the weather is socked-in, but if the visibility is good, according to longtime local Olin Glenne,  “Head to the Bowls for endless long, sustained fall lines. It’s where the locals head first.” If lift lines get bogged down, heed his advice and take Frenchman’s, or often overlooked Greyhawk Chair on the lower side of Warm Springs, to escape the crowds. But if it’s storming, listen to Mike Hattrup, U.S. Alpine Product Manager for Fischer Sports, and head to the trees. “Central Park and the new gladed woods near Jan’s Pass and Frenchman’s are good, and the resort has worked hard to thin, remove punji sticks, and churn up shrubbery, making accessible pathways that feel relatively safe.” Afterward, head to Apples Bar for a beer, or the newly remodeled Warmsprings Lodge for a cocktail.  —S.P. | photo Scott Markewitz

 

Taos, New Mexico

Stats: Acres: 1,200 | Vertical: 3,281’ | Snowfall: 300”

What’s New: This still independently owned Southern Rockies resort is further redesigning the base area and selling residences. But for those of us not looking for a second home, the most noticeable improvement will be the half a million dollars sunk into snowmaking to compensate for the lean years.   

Powder Plan: Emma Patterson is the first Taoseña to qualify for the Freeride World Tour. When she’s not competing this winter, she plans to lap the vaulted Highline Ridge. “I drop into the Kitchen Wall area just before Corner Chute,” she says. From there, Patterson traverses Corner Chute and drops into the North Face Chute and hits the Diving Board, “knee-deep powder every time, it’s absolute heaven!”  —D.C. | photo Blake Jorgenson

 

Tremblant, Quebec

Stats: Acres: 755 | Vertical: 2,116’

Snowfall: 156”

What’s New: Quebec’s largest ski area unveils $14.1 million worth of on-mountain and village improvements. That includes fat snowmaking upgrades and new accommodations. The real coup de grâce, though, aims to improve your down days. Aquaclub la Source, Tremblant’s waterpark complex, features four new water slides plus hot tubs, pools, and a new fitness center.  

Powder Plan: “Always follow your wife to where she lives,” says Tremblant local Patrick Lussier, who met his wife at the mountain in 1995. His other big advice? Get a First Tracks ticket, free with most lodging packages, to ski 45 minutes before all the normal folks. Warm up your quads on powder-coated corduroy before diving into the North Side glades, where you can squeeze the mountain’s full vertical drop out of each run. On the deepest days, Lussier says, get over to The Edge for vast, loaded glades. “You’ll have first tracks all morning.”  —M.M.  | Courtesy photo

 

Vail, Colorado

Stats: Acres: 5,317 | Vertical: 3,450’ Snowfall: 354”

What’s New: Opening and closing days at Vail could look a little different going forward, thanks to the resort’s largest snowmaking expansion project to date. The improvements include 200 acres of new snowmaking terrain and will allow Vail to open earlier with more diverse trails. Bonus? Opening day festivities will shift from Lionshead to Vail Village. 

Powder Plan: Start at Lionshead, where the gondola line is often shortest, and preheat the oven with a smooth run down to Avanti Express. On top, hustle to Ptarmigan Ridge, where it’s easy to out-hike any tracks. Surf a few laps, then later get lost in Blue Sky Basin. “You can really get way back and have it all to yourself,” says Hannah Dixon, who ditched Denver two yeas ago to live closer to the mountain. “Out there, I really like Resolution. Fun open trees and usually a ton of snow because it doesn’t get much wind.”  —M.M.  photo Andrew Maguire/Vail Resorts

 

Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia

Stats: Acres: 8,171 | Vertical: 5,278’

Snowfall: 465”

What’s New: Whistler Blackcomb’s adventure-focused snow school, Extremely Canadian, now offers guided ski tours and heli drops to the newest hut in the resort’s backcountry. The Kees and Claire Hut, which opened this fall, is the first of three new refuges planned along the Spearhead Traverse. It houses 38 bunks across six sleeping areas. If you want to go full-DIY, the hut can be accessed with an 8.6-mile skin from Whistler Village.   

Powder Plan: Storm skiing anywhere usually means low visibility, and that’s especially true along British Columbia’s coastal range. So pro skier and Whistler ambassador Anna Segal heads for the Creekside Gondola and Big Red Express. “Hit the boot pack at Goat’s Trail for steep inbounds drops into the trees,” she says. Crush a few laps there, and boogie to the feature-rich shoulders and steep pitches off Harmony and Symphony while you wait for Peak Express to open. “When the peak chair cracks, it’s go-time.”  —M.M.  | photo Eric Berger/Vail Resorts

 

Winter Park, Colorado

Stats: 3,081 | Vertical: 3,060’ | Snowfall: 314”

What’s New: Front Range skiers can skip the I-70 nightmare by taking Amtrak’s Winter Park Express. This season brings 18 new ski train round trips between Denver and Winter Park, every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from January 10 to March 29. With Amtrak as your designated driver, you can sample an après whiskey flight at Doc’s, Roadhouse or specialty cocktails at newly opened Rippy’s Mountain Tavern. Perhaps the best upgrade this year: the new six-person Sunnyside Chair, which replaces the original fixed-grip triple relic, cuts ride time in half, and reduces lift lines at the bottom of Parsenn Bowl.  

Powder Plan: Winter Park tends to bump up, so follow Divide Board Shop owner Nick Jones’ advice: Hook up with a local, or grab a trail map and figure out the trees to make sure you know the exits. Head to the top and keep checking glades until you find something untracked. “Ski the edge and start looking in the trees, and make sure you have good goggles, gloves, and a double camber board for float.” Afterward, head to Lime’s for a margarita.  —S.P. | Courtesy photo

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