Details, Details

Outside magazine, Travel Guide 1997-1998

Details, Details
By Andy Slough


What's New: If a combination of moist Pacific lows, the lake effect from the Great Salt Lake, and cold temperatures bless you annually with 500 inches of blue-smoke powder, you can forget about new lifts, lodges, and groomers, and the world will still beat a path to your door. Gardening is the priority at Alta this year — moving rocks, trimming brush, and communing with the furry sorts who call High Rustler home.

Where to Bunk: The elegant but relaxed Alta's Rustler Lodge (888-532-2582) has ski-in/ski-out access to the base lifts, a new Jacuzzi and outdoor pool, and a fitness center. New six-person dorm rooms with bath cost $90-$125 per person per night; new two-person "luxury rooms" run $195-$270 per person; each additional adult is $75, kids 6 to 11 $50; under five is free. All rates include breakfast and dinner. One of Alta's best deals is the Alta Peruvian Lodge (two-bedroom suite, $624-$756 for a group of four, including three meals and lift passes; 800-453-8488).

Local Wisdom: Following a big dump, ski the High Traverse, High Rustler, Gunsight, or Supreme Challenge off the Supreme Chair. A free shuttle leaves from Alta for Snowbird, ten minutes down the canyon, about every 20 minutes.

What's New: This resort's tag line is "Ski the Legend," which may say as much about the resort's resistance to change as it does the snow conditions. This year, new (as yet unannounced) owners are aping Howard Hughes's obsessive need for privacy: no names, no telephone numbers, and no news of any plans.

Where to Bunk: Arapahoe Basin has no on-site accommodations; the majority of skiers stay in Keystone. Colorado's first dedicated skiers' lodge is now a B&B called the Ski Tip Lodge (doubles with bath, $130-$204, including breakfast; 800-222-0188). The lodge has massive stone fireplaces, and is decorated with old ski memorabilia. At the Keystone Lodge (doubles, $205-$276; 800-222-0188), you get an ice-skating rink, a fitness center, hot tubs, and a swimming pool.

Local Wisdom: There are no on-mountain public facilities (excluding the trees), so be sure to use the bathroom before you catch the lift.

What's New: With 4,139 feet of vertical, 402 inches of annual snowfall, blinding views of the Tetons, kick-ass cowboy bars, and 8,000 elk, what could be wrong with Jackson Hole? In a word, lifts. There's no doubt that Jackson Hole has got A+ terrain — it's the D+ combination of fixed-grip doubles and circuitous traverses that drives skiers to distraction. But all that changes on December 6, 1997, with the opening of the new Bridger Gondola, which travels from the Teton Village base to the Headwall to access intermediate and expert terrain. Also new is the Bridger Center, a 17,000-square-foot facility housing skier services.

Where to Bunk: In Jackson, the Parkway Inn (doubles, $69-$95; 307-733-3143) has antique furnishings and a fitness center. At the base of the ski hill is the recently remodeled ski-in/ski-out Alpenhof Lodge (doubles, $98-$284; 800-732-3244), whose alpine decor includes Bavarian wood furnishings and down comforters.

Local Wisdom: Enroll in one of the Jackson Hole Steep Weeks to take part in a combined expert ski clinic-cum-steep-chutes confrontation. Or take a day trip to Grand Targhee on the Targhee Express (round-trip ticket, $15; call 307-733-1700).

What's New: As part of the $80 million Mammoth will invest over the next five years, $18 million will go for improvements for this season. The new snowboard arena, Unbound, will include a half-pipe, jumps, and preflight and landing decks. Night skiing and boarding debut on Bowling Alley, Broadway, and in the terrain park on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 4 to 9 p.m. In addition, Mammoth will replace Chairs 6, 2, 18, and 3 with three new quads.

Where to Bunk: The Mammoth Mountain Inn (800-228-4947) has ski-in/ski-out access to all 29 lifts, a bar, a restaurant, and child care. Mid-week lifts-and-lodging packages, with three nights' lodging and three days of lift tickets, start at $528 for two; a standard double runs $115. The inn also rents condos (one-bedroom units with loft, $325 and up).

Local Wisdom: Check out http://www. for the latest earthquake reports. Purchase the Mammoth Club Card for $60 and save $14 on every lift ticket; one teen or child membership is free with the purchase of an adult card.

What's New: It's not that the bigwigs at Taos are lazy. They're simply trying to make a point: Come for the snow, or don't come at all. In a grudging move to bring Taos into the twenty-first century, they've invested $18 million over the past six years in three fixed-grip quads, an expanded base area, a new children's center, and the expansion of one mountain restaurant. New this year: nothing much. Get it?

Where to Bunk: In Taos Ski Valley, ski-school technical director Jean Mayer's Hotel St. Bernard (seven-day packages, $990-$1,390 per person, including all meals, six lift tickets, and six ski lessons; 505-776-2251) provides old-world hospitality and international cuisine served at a communal table. Close to Taos Plaza is La Posada de Taos B&B (doubles, $85-$135; 800-645-4803), a 100-year-old adobe home with six rooms, five with kiva fireplaces and all with patios.

Local Wisdom: On busy days avoid the Kachina Lift (Chair 4) and ski chairs 2 or 8 instead. Hike Highline and West Basin Ridges — then pick a chute, any chute. Enroll in the Ernie Blake Ski School ski week (six lessons, $335-$372, $298 before December 20). Ernie Blake's instructors tend to push their students, so don't be afraid to say "no thanks" to big bumps, vertical chutes, or weird snow.

What's New: Now that Intrawest, Blackcomb's owner, has finally acquired Whistler as well, will the resulting marriage amount to more than a few locked-arm toasts? Probably, if the $31 million invested this year is any indication. On Whistler, the Redline and Green chairs will be replaced with two Doppelmayr express quads. New snowcats, snowmaking upgrades, and a new Pipe Dragon groomer will keep both skiers and snowboarders happy. Upping the ante, Blackcomb will add 60 acres of new terrain, including new novice trails and themed terrain for kids off the Catskinner Chair and 40 acres of intermediate trails in the Crystal area. In addition, Blackcomb's terrain park is quadrupling in size, from four to 16 acres, and will be served by a new Pipe Dragon.

Where to Bunk: The Pan Pacific Lodge, opening December 15, 1997, in the heart of Whistler Village, is an eight-story complex with a health club, outdoor pool and spa, and restaurant (studios, U.S.$148-$332; one-bedroom units, $258-$443; two-bedroom units, $369-$553; 800-538-4040). At the elegant Chateau Whistler Resort (standard doubles, $117-$353; 800-441-1414), at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, you get ski-in/ski-out access, a health club, restaurants, and bars.

Local Wisdom: Hire Peter Smart of Extremely Canadian (800-938-9656) to guide you to Whistler/Blackcomb's hidden chutes and powder stashes. At the new Snow Adventure Centres you can rent skis, shaped skis, snowboards, and snowblades.

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