From slope-side tacos to new green initiatives and bucket splurges, we pick our favorite things of the 2014 ski season.
Best New Flight
Starting this winter, you can fly direct from LAX to Montrose, Colorado. From there, it’s a 65-mile shuttle ride to Telluride ($49 one-way) for plenty of steep and rocky terrain. Wednesday and Saturday flights begin December 21. From $75.
Best Green Initiative
Greenwashing is a proud tradition at many ski resorts. Not so at Aspen Snowmass, thanks to the efforts of sustainability VP Auden Schendler. Last year, the resort invested $5.5 million and partnered with energy and gas companies to turn waste methane from a nearby coal mine into electricity that generates as much power as the company’s four ski resorts, two hotels, and 14 restaurants use in a year.
Best Ski Bar
People used to crowd into Arapahoe Basin’s 6th Alley Bar and Grill for the bacon bloody marys and the beer mugs on the wall—and because, well, it’s the only show in town. This summer, the A-frame pub got a $1 million face-lift, with a new bar menu (including nearly a dozen Colorado microbrews on tap) and an updated, open-floor-plan design with additional seating and space for live music. And, yes, the bacon bloody marys are still excellent.
Leave the I-70 lift lines behind and escape to the new Broome Hut, which opened near Colorado’s Berthoud Pass in early 2013. The 1,800-square-foot property has a common kitchen and bunks 16. A one-mile, 800-vertical-foot hike from the highway puts you in powder swaths, and there are views of the Continental Divide right out the door. $35 per person per night.
The plot of Sherpas Cinema’s Into the Mind is nothing much: skiers and snowboarders like Kye Petersen, Eric Hjorleifson, and Xavier De Le Rue descend snow-covered peaks in Canada, Alaska, and the Himalayas from the perspective of an omnipresent deity. But we don’t watch ski porn for the plot. And the cinematography—it was shot with a Red Epic X and Sony’s Cineflex V14 aerial camera—outshines anything we’ve ever seen.
Best Slopeside Tacos
It was only a matter of time before hipsters brought food trucks to the hill. Enter Que Tu, which will sling grub at the base of the Mount Rainier Gondola at Crystal Mountain, Washington, this winter. On the menu: tortas, tacos, shrimp ceviche, spicy pork burritos, and buckets of Corona and Mexican Coca-Cola. Ole!
Best Ski Bag
Yes, the Douchebag has a terrible name—but the features make up for it. Designed in part by Swedish freeskier turned ski racer Jon Olsson, the tough but lightweight bag fits two pairs of fat skis and rolls up to the size of a basketball when you’re done traveling. ($229)
This year, Alaska’s Majestic Majestic Heli Ski—run by former Alps guide and U.S. Army helicopter pilot Njord Rota—moves from Valdez to a new location two and a half hours northeast of Anchorage, offering access to hundreds of square miles of empty spines and less competition for terrain. Even better, you get unlimited vertical, so it’s the same price no matter how many laps you squeeze in. From $3,495 for three days, all-inclusive.
Stanley’s stormproof, stainless-steel SS flask holds up to eight ounces of your favorite spirit and is slim enough that you won’t feel it in your jacket pocket on the way down. ($20)
Best New Cat Trip
Snowbird, Utah, expands its cat-skiing terrain this season, with access into the Mineral Basin and Mary Ellen Gulch backcountry, adding 500 acres of wide-open, south-facing bowls. You’ll wake up early, have breakfast at the Forklift with your guide, and be in bottomless powder in Mineral Basin before the tram even opens to the public. $330.
Best Backup Plan
Stowe, Vermont, has invested $8.1 million in its snowmaking facilities—more than any other eastern ski area. The resort has 116 million gallons of water on hand and New England’s first fully automated snowmaking system, so it can work more efficiently even in temperatures up to 28 degrees.