It’s hard not to love a country—Austria, Switzerland—where the hopes and dreams of its people rest on the shoulders of its best skiers. At just about any World Cup ski race in Europe, tens of thousands of flag-waving, bell-jangling fans revel in the competition. Discover the root of the passion by schussing in the shadow of the Eiger before downing five-star fondue in a slope-side farmhouse—or take any other of the trips outlined on the following pages. One jaunt is all you’ll need to see that the mountains have shaped virtually all aspects of life in the Alps, and that skiing is the anchor of everything. With once in a lifetime snowfall hitting this winter, and the Euro faltering, there’s never been a better time to ski the old continent.