We Sing the Slopes Fantastic

CALIFORNIA :: ALPINE MEADOWS

    Photo: courtesy, Alpine Meadows Ski Resort

MOUNTAIN STATS:

SUMMIT, 8,535 feet
VERTICAL, 1,805 feet
SKIABLE ACRES, 2,400
ANNUAL SNOWFALL, 495 inches
LIFT TICKET, $39
800-441-4423, www.skialpine.com

ALL MOUNTAIN AND NO ATTITUDE, Northern California's Alpine Meadows is designed to take maximum advantage of the spectacular terrain. Though it's got that laid-back, down-to-earth vibe the West is known for, it's certainly no bore; far from it. It simply lacks the attendant aggression of resorts with similarly radical steeps.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Chutes and rock bands line this High Sierra bowl, spilling out into gentle grades—so there's something here for all skill levels. The hike-to skiing and open-boundary policy (not found at neighboring Squaw Valley) equal acres and acres of untouched snow, and the hill's south side is enormous, wide-open, and drenched with sunshine in the morning.
NUMBER-ONE RUN: Palisades, a classic double black diamond off the Alpine Bowl lift, looks skyscraper-steep once you're staring down it, but fear not: Since it's north-facing, the snow's way silky.
HOT LODGE: From the lifts, it's just a quick ten minutes to the unbeatable Resort at Squaw Creek, with its 403 fine rooms, four restaurants (ranging from diner fare to haute cuisine), outdoor swimming pool, Jacuzzis, and nearby recreation like dogsledding and sleigh rides. (Doubles, $229-$349; 800-403-4434, www.squawcreek.com)
SOUL PATCH: The northern ridge, beyond Estelle Bowl, may take a quarter of an hour to hike and traverse to, but the sweet silence and enormous cedars you'll find will make you forget the trip. As will the powder.

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