Ski the Best Terrain in North America
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If powder and steeps are what you seek, look no further than these five stellar mountains.
Revelstoke, British Columbia
Revelstoke gets 360 inches of snow each year and offers access to a stunning array of cliffs, chutes, and powder fields. It also has 1,000 acres of cat-skiing terrain, with gladed slopes and alpine meadows, and half a million acres of heli-skiing. This year the steep trees between Devil’s Club and Hot Sauce, in an area known as Tally Ho Glades, were thinned out. And the mountain has turned more attention to safety, adding Avalanche Ranch, a beacon-testing area at the top of the mountain that also has a store selling avy gear.
Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky is becoming America’s tree-skiing capital. The mountain offers 5,800 acres, including Shady Chute, a 2,000-foot-long, 40-degree-steep trail with a bottom third that’s slalom-turn thick with trees. For this winter, there are new mellow runs off the South Comfort chairlift and another steep shot between Lobo and Calamity Jane. But the most exciting change is on Tango Trees, a steep trail with bobsled turns that was thinned to make for a faster, more flowing descent. Tip: best conditions are usually in January, when the mountain averages 50 to 100 inches of snow.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte’s Third Bowl has enough pillow lines and cliff bands to get even the most spoiled powder bro’s heart beating. But if you want to push yourself even further, hook up with Crested Butte Mountain Guides. Groups of up to six ride the resort’s Silver Queen lift to the top, then don crampons and ice axes and rope up for a two-hour trek to the mountain’s 12,200-foot summit. All that scrambling is rewarded with 45-to-50-degree lines dropping 900 vertical feet. Sound too extreme? The resort recently gladed several new intermediate areas, including the gentle slopes in the trees off the Teocalli lift and in the East River area.
Known for its 3,240 feet of vertical and 500 inches of annual snowfall, the ‘Bird is one of the steepest and deepest skiing experiences in North America. Access to some of the best runs, including 37-degree Somatotropic Hormone, got easier last season when the mountain replaced the old Gad 2 chairlift with a high-speed quad that cut transit time from eight minutes to four. The resort also offers 800 acres of cat skiing, through the wide-open bowls of American Fork Canyon, just southeast of the resort.
Jay Peak, Vermont
A weather phenomenon known as the Jay Cloud dumps an average of 377 inches of snow on this mountain near the Canadian border each winter. Take advantage by hiking 20 minutes out to Big Jay and skiing the Cut, a 16-to-65-foot-wide, 3,000-foot-long trail with a 20-foot cliff. Then head back to the main resort for gladed runs down trails like Timbuktu, 25 degrees of steeps through open poplars and maples, and Green Beret, a steep plunge off the top of the tram through bushy evergreens. Close the day by hitting the waterslides, wave pool, lazy river, and hot tubs inside the 60,000-square-foot water park.