Ski areas I’ve enjoyed
Although I have never been overseas, and have not enjoyed any of the very fine resorts in the Eastern US, I have had the privilege of “shralping the pow-pow” at many of the American West’s most fantastic ski areas. Skiing is a sport that requires fitness to be fully enjoyed, and it fosters fitness- a great equation. Sunshine is good for you, and all true skiers can conversely enjoy a day of gray, snowy tree skiing. Some brief deets on the places I’ve been. All are a total gas in their own way. 26 areas, and decades of good, clean fun.
Alyeska What a cool place! Skied here for one fabulous day, spring of 1989. Massive open bowls, bumps, just incredible. The idea of skiing at, basically, sea level, looking down on the Turnagain Arm of the…Cook Inlet? Compared to the very high-altitude experience, this Pacific gem was a real eye-opener. Apres? Be certain to go to the Double Musky for some local fare and spicy authentic n’awlins-style gumbo. In frigging Alaska. What a state.
Snow Bowl Outside of Flagstaff, I enjoyed a day here in the Spring in about 1982…Low-key, the anti-glitz local hill. We found some very cool tree lines, and the sunshine made it great. Skiing Arizona, WHA?
Squaw Valley Olympic wonderland. Gobs of lifts, tons of skiing, gondolas, etc. A Tahoe legend.
Kirkwood Farther out Tahoe area. Call this one Bump Central. Good place.
Heavenly Valley Another monster. Here for a boy’s weekend bachelor party back in ’89, I rented skis for the only time in my life, a mistake. Bindings were set too light for my ability and the DEEP Sierra Cement conditions, so I did several headers…and eventually broke my collarbone. I just thought I was hurt badly, never had this x-rayed until 2010, where the surgeon said “did you ever break your L collarbone?” to which I replied “…sure, back in ’89, I guess…”.
Snow Summit Orange County fave, at Big Bear area. Good mountain. Heck, you’re skiing SoCal, how cool is that?
Mt. Baldy Ditto as Snow Summit.
Mammoth Just a…MAMMOTH mountain. Have had some good fun here. We actually found the hot springs, pre-gps, and enjoyed a soak of several HOURS. Very cool experience.
Bear Mountain OK place, SoCal.
COLORADO- The Really Good Stuff!
A-Basin My “home” area for decades. Alpine and plenty of bumpy chutes, steep faces and since the Montezuma Bowl was opened with lifts back in the mid-90’s, even more great terrain. A local’s and Front Range skier’s favorite.
Keystone For many years it had a reputation as a beginner’s mountain. No mas, senor. North Peak and the Outback have dozens of steep, bumpy trails have brought Keystone into view as a solid skier’s mountain where you can enjoy an entire day and never have to ski the same run twice- NICE. Apres? Snake River Saloon, and the nightclub always has the best music around.
Vail Repeat after me: BACK BOWLS. One of America’s top resorts. Disneyland on the freeway. Staying for a few days? Try the Vail Athletic Club, or the Crystal Resort which has it’s own lift at the hotel, on the far western edge of the front of the mountain. Montauk Seafood Grill is a very crispy restaurant, white linen and top-notch food & service.
Vail’s neighbor to the West, Beaver Creek is hyper-spendy, large and a full-blown big mountain experience. Birds of Prey area will rubberize your knees. Get out your go-pro, screw it to your helmet, and be a bump chump at this grand mountain.
Steamboat My personal favorite. Large, and the best tree skiing in the country, according to some, at Priest Creek. If you can find “Flying Zees” try that, but you’ll need to befriend a serious local to enjoy this treat. Hot springs for you too at Strawberry Park- the bubbling sounds like a steamboat? S’wat they say.
Loveland Denver favorite. Cut down the I-70 shuffle from the front range and ski here! Lower key area, without the glitz of other Colorado areas, Loveland still offers miles and miles of open bowls, great views and good fun. Ski on top of the Eisenhower Tunnel while the rest are still driving to The Summit and beyond.
Copper Mountain Terrific mountain, but the parking and shuttle thang have rather destroyed the experience for me. I remember the “old days” when you could park near Tuso’s, get right on B Lift…and ski A lift all day…Excellent mountain despite the Parking Torture.
Breckenridge In the top rankings of cute-sey Colorado areas, it’s Victorian charm makes it a perfect day or get away if you want to fire up the romance. An easier mountain, there are still some good faces here, and plenty of large-capacity lifts.
Crested Butte First place I ever skied, on spring break from NAU in ’77. 4 guys in a Pinto, I am not making this up, on our adventure quest. I was the rookie, and had a blast. Ripped a heel binding (Marker “explode-a-mat”) out of a pair of Kastle 205 slalom skiis. If you know what an Explode-a-mat is, then you’re a veteran skiier too! Have no idea what it is like these days, but ski areas do not DE-volve- they E-Volve! I need to get back, get back, get back to where I once belonged. Get BACK JoJo!
Telluride Famously out-of-the-way area, with this old mining town at it’s base. If you’re staying on the mountain, you can actually ride a gondola from your hotel to town for dinner, then ride a gondola back up, how frigging cool is THAT? Remember to take The Plunge.
Winter Park Denver skiier’s favorite. Make the trek over historic Berthoud Pass and enjoy this big hill. Expert’s area is called Mary Jane, named decades before Colorado’s 420 friendly “laws” were passed, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Mary Jane- get it? Anyway, WP and the Jane are solid mountains, never mind all the competition thru the tunnel and in the state. Make a big day of it and ride the “ski train” out of Union Station, and leave the driving to the engineer. Whoo-whoo!
Berthoud Pass R.I.P., this teensy area closed on 2001. Skiied there one time The bartender, who was also a ski instructor, was also a very good bartender.
Taos Another of the more remote and totally great areas of the west. The bottom of this hill is very steep, and I doubt you’ll ever see a lift line here. Skiied this on Easter Sunday back in like ’83? And it was one of the funnest sunny corn snow days of my life. Stauffenberger and a series of runs toward the bottom are very entertaining, and some hike-able in bounds faces too. Nice.
Mount Hood Meadows The best of the Mt. Hood 3, a good overall mtn. for PDX’ers and Hood River locals. Remember to do a backsider in Heather Canyon, OK?
Mt. Hood Ski Bowl Used to be called “Multorpor”?…OK area. My first Oregon experience in ’89 on my way to Alaska…We skiied incredibly deep and mushy snow, just bottomless.
Timberline Above treeline summer ski camp face. Fun. I had the good fortune of staying at the majestic WPA project called Timberline Lodge- What a place, what an experience.
Mt. Bachelor Another big, remote place, smack in the center of Oregon, in the “high desert”. 4,000+ of vert, and if you catch it on the right day, it is fantastic. Bend is a cool town, and this makes for a fun spring trip.