365 Days of Winter

There's always snow somewhere. Here are the coolest places on the globe to find it.

Nov 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

NEW ZEALAND [Craigieburn] The official stats—three rope tows and 1,650 vertical feet—give the illusion that this is a pip-squeak of a ski area. Don't be misled. This best known of New Zealand's "club fields"—ski areas run by local organizations—features giant bowls, 50-degree couloirs, and runs that can exceed 3,000 vertical feet, depending on snow conditions. Best of all, you'll share this killer terrain with fewer than 100 skiers. SEASON: July to September. CONTACT: 011-64-3-365-2514, www.craigieburn.co.nz. PACKAGE DEAL: $75, including transportation, lift ticket, rope-tow gear, lunch, and a half-day with a guide; Black Diamond Safaris, 011-64-25-508-283, www.blackdiamondsafaris.co.nz. KINDRED SPIRIT: Mad River Glen, Vermont (802-496-3551, www.madriverglen.com), attracts the same brand of ski nuts with its old-fashioned lifts and "I dare you" attitude.

SPAIN [Baqueira] Home turf to Juan Carlos, the world's most ski-crazed king, the Pyrenees may be smaller than the Alps, but the ski scene is also more low-key, less expensive, and less likely to lure fellow Americans. Expect a heavy dose of authentic Spanish culture, including lots of tapas and dinner at 10 p.m. But the real charm of Baqueira is big-mountain terrain. How white-knuckle gnarly can it get? Escornacrabes, a favorite area of Baqueira experts, roughly translates as "the place where goats fall and die." SEASON: December through April. CONTACT: 011-34-973-63-9010, www.baqueira.es. PACKAGE DEAL: Book a seven-night stay (including breakfast) and six days of lift tickets for $750 per person through the resort. KINDRED SPIRIT: Grand Targhee, Wyoming (800-827-4433, www.grandtarghee.com), is often passed over for Jackson Hole, to the east, but is blessed with some of the best powder in the U.S. SWITZERLAND [Andermatt] "Ander" is a German prefix meaning "other." Think, then, of Andermatt as the alternative to Zermatt. In Andermatt, you still get the Swiss-chalet character, but none of the fur-coat glitz. Andermatt may seem relatively small—just 12 lifts and 36 miles of trails. But well-traveled experts will tell you that the light snow and long, steep runs on 9,719-foot Gemsstock, the area's highest peak, allow you to go as big as anywhere else in Switzerland. SEASON: November to May. CONTACT: 011-41-41-887-1454, www.andermatt.ch. PACKAGE DEAL: $480, including seven nights' lodging, airport transports, and breakfast; All Mountain Vacations, 888-838-8142, www.all-mountain.com. KINDRED SPIRIT: Just as Andermatt is the other Zermatt, Solitude, Utah (800-748-4754, www.skisolitude.com), is the other Alta. Andermatt and Solitude share the same kind of snow and terrain—with zero attitude.

ARGENTINA [Cerro Castor] The world's southernmost ski area, just beyond the fringes of Ushuaia, is so far off the grid that most Argentinians still don't know it exists. Officially, the skiable terrain comprises about 1,000 acres of open bowls overlooking the Beagle Channel, but another 2,500 acres will eventually be opened. Best of all, you can book a seven-night, six-day trip, including lodging, breakfast, and lift tickets, for as little as $321. SEASON: July through September. CONTACT: 011-54-901-21423, www.cerrocastor.com. PACKAGE DEAL: $321; Ski Vacation Planners, 888-822-6754, www.skivacationplanners.com. KINDRED SPIRIT: Le Massif, Quebec (418-632-5876, www.lemassif.com), has the same end-of-the-earth feeling.

AUSTRIA [Ötztal] St. Anton and Kitzbühel may be better known to American skiers, but the ötztal region, where the Austrian Alps rise up to peaks exceeding 12,000 feet, literally stands above them. Ötztal is a greatest-hits amalgam of all things Austrian: a major resort town in Sölden, charming high-mountain villages like Vent, a ski school dating back to 1928, and runs exceeding 5,000 vertical feet. Snow at other Austrian areas, notably low-elevation Kitzbühel, can be iffy, but Ötztal's high elevation assures quality winter snow and almost year-round glacier skiing. SEASON: Year-round, conditions permitting. CONTACT: 011-43-52-54-5100, www.oetztal.com. PACKAGE DEAL: $1,429, including flights from New York, seven nights' lodging, breakfast, and dinner; Adventures on Skis, 800-628-9655, www.advonskis.com. KINDRED SPIRIT: Just like Ötztal, the Summit at Snoqualmie, Washington (425-434-7669, www.summit-at-snoqualmie.com), is an almost exclusively locals-only mountain surrounded by higher-profile peaks.