The Snow Report
BEST NEW SKI SCHOOL
At Utah's Canyons Resort, the Ultimate Mountain Experience pairs clients with former Olympic skiers and snowboarders, like Erik Schlopy and Graham Watanabe, for a day of instruction. Sessions focus on specific aspects of the sport—powder skiing or trees, for example—and classes are limited to four people. $1,275 per person per day.
BEST NEW TERRAIN
Last season, Fernie, British Columbia, debuted the Polar Peak triple chair, opening up 250 acres of black- and double-black-diamond trails—all the more reason to visit this overlooked gem five hours north of Spokane, Washington. This winter, Northstar, in Lake Tahoe, California, plans to finally open 170 acres of new sidecountry terrain. (They were supposed to open last year, but weak snowfall put them on hold.) Try Lookout Glade, a short traverse off Prosser with 50-degree pitches and open trees.
BEST NEW APPS
Taos, New Mexico, and Mount Bachelor, Oregon, join Whistler and Alta with smartphone apps that alert skiers and riders to trail openings. Meanwhile, Vail Resorts upgrade its EpicMix app with a racing feature that automatically compares your ski-racing times to Lindsey Vonn's. But the most exciting new tool comes from ClaimMyRun. Download the company's app and you can watch helmet-cam footage from trails at 16 U.S. resorts, including Taos, Silverton, and Stevens Pass, to get a sense of the run's terrain before you ski it.
While there are plenty of deals on individual ski resorts, we prefer to keep our options open. The third year of Vail Resorts' $679 Epic Pass, which gains you unrestricted, unlimited turns at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood, now includes three days of lift tickets at Verbier, Switzerland. But the best buy of the season is the $349 Mountain Collective Pass, which includes two free days at Aspen, Jackson Hole, Alta, and Squaw Valley, plus a 50 percent discount on unlimited lift tickets at each of those destinations.
THE POWDER TRIP
After 42 years of guiding skiers and riders throughout the Cariboo and Monashee mountains, it's safe to say that nobody knows how to find deeper powder stashes than the staff at Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing, based in Blue River, British Columbia. During three-day trips, guides lead you down 20,000 vertical feet of open bowls, glades, powder pillows, chutes, and 10-foot drops. From $3,876 for three days; includes room at a 22,000-square-foot lodge, meals, and powder skis or snowboard.
THE SPLURGE: VAIL HUT TRIP
This winter, Manor Vail, a hotel on the outskirts of Vail Village, offers a high-end approach to the hut trip. For two nights, the residence will put you up in one of its slopeside condos, so you can adjust to the mountain's 11,000-foot elevation while skiing the resort's famous back bowls. Once you've acclimatized, a guide will lead you on a six-mile skin to the Eiseman Hut, a spartan but elegant lodge with a kitchen, wood-burning furnace, and room for 16. You'll spend two nights there, skiing backcountry glades and couloirs, before returning to Manor Vail for a night of decompression (read: spa treatments). $4,000