To the average traveler, New York’s LaGuardia and tiny Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, Montana would appear to have little in common. Yet according to data, they do: Both made the list of the U.S.’s top ten white-knuckle airports for pilots compiled by Honeywell Aerospace, the avionics unit of the manufacturing conglomerate, which is developing tools to make these airfields a little less daunting. For the study, released in March, the company drew on data from its own team of test pilots, plus the larger pilot community, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other aviation experts.
According to Honeywell test pilot Nate Turner, what they share are a trio of factors that can make landings particularly tricky. “It’s a combination of terrain, the airport environment (including runway length and airspace congestion), and the weather,” Turner tells Condé Nast Traveler.
Aspen, in fact, is considered to be the trickiest commercial airport to navigate in the entire U.S., according to Turner, who formerly flew regional jets for American Eagle. “It’s definitely at the top of any list of challenging airports,” he says. “There are a lot of factors that make it difficult—the high altitudes, strong winds, and a very steep approach,” he says.
Aspen’s airport gets more flights than any other ski resort in the country, but it’s still a relatively small player by industry standards. By contrast, New York’s LaGuardia, which is among the 20 busiest in the U.S., is daunting for other reasons: its runways are relatively short. A Delta commuter plane recently skidded off the runway there, and last fall, a jet carrying then vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence went off-road there, too. As a result, says Turner, this has complicated by airspace congestion, both of which contribute to worsening delays.
San Diego’s airport poses a different set of hurdles, with a mountain range within a short distance of the runways, requiring pilots to ascend and descend at a steep angle. And Reagan National has congested airspace and some unusual restrictions on flight paths, due to its proximity to the capital.
In releasing the data, Honeywell noted that improving runway safety is a top priority for aviation officials, citing statistics that 41 percent of airline accidents worldwide occur in the runway environment. Many once-common causes of scheduled airline crashes have been nearly eliminated, with the advance of technologies like proximity warning systems to prevent mid-air collisions. But most safety regulators agree that at airports there’s still room for improvement; in fact, the FAA has its own, even longer list of difficult airports, both in the U.S. and abroad. On scheduled flights operating at these facilities, the pilot in command is required to get special training.
There are now new tech tools available to improve flight safety at these airports; for example, Honeywell in the past year has come up with a mobile app for pilots that gives a 3-D view of their flight path on their iPad before they takeoff, which can help them prepare for difficult landings (it also provides real-time weather updates). Another breakthrough is Synthetic Vision, which at times of low visibility displays the digital equivalent of a “breadcrumb trail” that leads into an airport, Turner says. And Delta Air Lines partnered with BCI, a Virginia-based military contractor, to develop an app to pilots detect and avoid turbulence. Passengers will notice the benefits of many of these tools, too. “As technology evolves, the quality of their ride will improve,” says Turner. “It will make for a smoother flight.”
Most Challenging U.S. Airports
1. Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (Aspen, CO) 2. Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport (Bullhead City, AZ) 3. Bert Mooney Airport (Butte, MT) 4. Yellowstone Regional Airport (Cody, WY) 5. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (Washington D.C.) 6. Juneau International Airport (Juneau, AK) 7. LaGuardia Airport (Queens, NY) 8. Mammoth Yosemite Airport (Mammoth Lakes, CA) 9. San Diego International Airport (San Diego, CA) 10. Telluride Regional Airport (Telluride, CO)
FIS Congress is underway in Greece, and one of the first announcements was the confirmation of the 2018-19 World Cup calendar. The schedule is highlighted by the 2019 World Championships in Are, Sweden, from Feb. 5-17.
The men and women each have two series in North America. The women will return to Killington, Vt. while the men will compete in Beaver Creek, Colo. Both genders will venture to Lake Louise, Canada, for the first speed races of the season.
Beyond the classic tour stops in Europe like Zagreb, Croatia, and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, the women are returning to the home of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Sochi, Russia, for a downhill and super-G. The races will be one of the final stops of the season along with GS and slalom races in the Czech Republic and World Cup Finals in Andorra.
Meanwhile, fans will be able to catch their favorite male ski stars at Wengen and Kitzbuehel as always. The men’s calendar also features some less familiar stops like Bansko, Bulgaria, for GS, super-G, and alpine combined.
World Cup racing action begins on Oct. 27 with the women’s giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.
A skier takes advantage of the huge amounts of powder while skiing at Crested Butte ski area on January 11, 2017 in Crested Butte. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
Vail Resorts has announced that it is buying Crested Butte Mountain Resort and two other resorts from the Mueller family, making The Butte its fifth Colorado ski resort along with Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.
Vail will be paying the Muellers $82 million to acquire Triple Peaks LLC, which owns Crested Butte, Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont and Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire, while also providing Triple Peaks $155 million to pay off leases owed to another resort company, Ski Resort Holdings. In a separate deal, Vail will pay $67 million to acquire the Stevens Pass ski area in Washington state.
VR’s Epic Pass will be good at Crested Butte and its other new acquisitions next season. Vail Resorts chief executive Rob Katz said adding value to the Epic Pass was a key reason driving the new acquisitions.
“I think with Crested Butte, we feel like it is one of the most unique resorts within Colorado — the history, the original town and the mining component of it, kind of western feel, and the terrain,” Katz said in an interview. “I think the terrain at Crested Butte is some of most challenging in the state, and I think there is a kind of authenticity to the town and how the town and the mountain interact. From what we’ve heard from a lot of our (Epic Pass holders), this is something that would really interest them.
“We’re pretty excited. We feel like, and obviously this is true for all of the resorts, each one really occupies a particular spot which fills a niche for us.”
VR also announced that it would invest $35 million over the next two years to improve its new holdings.
The sale is expected to close this summer. Triple Peaks is owned by Tim and Dianne Mueller and their two children. They bought Crested Butte from longtime owner Edward Calloway in 2003.
“We know our guests and employees will benefit from Vail Resorts’ outstanding track record of resort and community investment, environmental stewardship, and employee development,” Tim Mueller said in a news release. “We care deeply about the legacy of these resorts, and have absolute confidence in Vail Resorts to celebrate what makes them so special, while also providing long-term stability for the communities.”
After the sale was announced, the Muellers wrote an open letter to the people of Crested Butte. Here is a part of that letter:
“While some of you may think we have only considered ourselves in this decision, this could not be farther from the truth. We have entered into this transaction with the best intentions for the ski area, our fellow employees, and the valley. If we did not think this was going to bring more opportunity for the resort in the years to come, we would not have made this decision. Our goal has never been to make Crested Butte the biggest, but to make it the best and we feel Vail Resorts is poised to do just that.
“With that said, it is obvious that Vail Resorts will do some things differently than us. We hope you will be open to their approach and give them the opportunity to prove their good intentions.”
You’re having an all-time day. The snow is blower, double overhead. You’re feeling the flow—you’re in the zone. You are one with your skis, one with the mountain, one with the universe and WHACK! You face plant after a snow gremlin chomps a chunk out of the base of your planks. “Asshole!”
Now what? You could satisfy your local ski tech with that twelver bro-deal, or you could head on home and handle repairs all on your own. Because sometimes, it just feels so good to DIY. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
1. The Shuttle Kit – North by Swix
Swix has pretty much cornered the at-home tuning market. Last year, the brand launched a freeride/backcountry-focused sub-brand called North. The Shuttle Kit has almost everything you’d want for on-the-go repairs: wax, a pocket edge and diamond sharpener, a bronze/nylon brush, polishing cork and a manual. Additional items needed: a scraper, a good attitude and elbow grease. All sold separately.
Zach Davison waxing skis for opening day. Photo: Grant Gunderson
P-Tex is a ski bum’s best friend. Mountains have rocks and rocks love to thrash the bottoms of skis. Chances are you’re going to drop more base than an EDM festival. P-Tex to the rescue!
Swix has the wax market pretty well covered, but Toko and Dakine offer great options, too. You’ll want both a cold weather and warm weather wax. Don’t be fooled by the all-temp options. Yes, there’s a difference and yes, you’ll notice.
4. “Fire Stick”
While almost any lighter will do, the chance of dripping molten P-Tex onto your thumb increases exponentially when using a classic Bic. Gain some distance with a “fire stick,” that lighter with the trigger you use on your barbecue. Otherwise, see number 8.
5. Table with vises
Chances are the crawlspace you rent does not have a workbench. Don’t worry, most any table or counter-top will work. It’s recommended that said table be bellybutton-height in order to quell the ski tuner’s hunchback. Swix, Toko and Kuu all make portable tables, but that money may be better spent on wood for a DIY table and vises. For a good tune, skis need to stay in place.
No, this will not help your style game. But it will keep wax, P-Tex and tuning gunk-n-junk from staining your pants and favorite flannel. Plus, you can seamlessly transfer from ski repair guru to grill master.
A razor-blade works well but it’s nice to have the power (and safety) of a handle. The go-to is a Swiss Army knife but the brand new Opinel No. 12 Explore knife has a rubber handle, a 10-centimeter locking blade, a cutting hook and a built-in whistle.
8. Swear Jar
While you are cutting, grinding, waxing and altogether seeking tune perfection, f-words will begin to flow, without question. Feed the jar a dollar for every curse word. Use that cash to invest in more tuning equipment… or some anger management classes. Remember to breathe in with the butterflies and breathe out with the bees. Cool moss, friends, picture cool moss.
Swix, Toko, Dakine and others sell tuning irons that are all pretty similar. No matter what, get an iron with a dummy-proof automatic shut off. Leaving the iron on and burning down your winter rental is not a good look.
10. Groovy Tunes
A zen-like mellowness is the be-all, end-all essential for repair precision. This is easily achieved by filling your tune station with some auditory feng shui. Outdoor Tech’s Buck Shot and Turtle Shell 2.0 Bluetooth speakers are great options for bumping calming albums like Enya’s Watermark. “Sail away, sail away, sail away…”
It’s May. We just came out of another lackluster winter with snowpack recordings as of April being less than 25 percent of normal in the Western U.S.
According to NASA, 17 of the 18 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2001. And a 2017 study on climate change’s affects on snowsports predicts that most resorts will see significantly reduced season lengths in the coming decades– over 50 percent of resorts by 2050 and 80 percent by 2090 in some regions.
With resorts now mostly closed, and as the last remnants of spring corn snow melt into the watershed, you may be feeling a bit lost and asking yourself, “Now what?”
While dreams of jet setting to the southern hemisphere to chase winter like the pros is largely unrealistic for the average skier or rider, the fact that burning jet fuel directly contributes to the climate change is also a conundrum for many.
Skier Brody Leven is just one professional snowsports athlete that is feeling the heat, and this month, Leven travelled to Washington D.C. to lobby for Climb The Hill with The Access Fund and The American Alpine Club, meeting with policy makers regarding climate change, public lands and outdoor recreation. Leven, along with other heavy hitting athletes involved with climate change (including Caroline Gleich and Alex Honnold), will trade his skis for a suit in just one of the productive ways pro athletes are now utilizing their time between seasons.
We spoke to some of the top snowboarders, skiers and trainers in the industry about how they use this growing window of time to rebuild for next season and take a stand for the future of winters.
Hit The Slopes
For cardio, Snowboarder Kimmy Fasani reminds athletes not to lose sight of the incredible terrain they still have at their disposal, sans snow. “My advice for recreational skiers/snowboarders is to take advantage of all that the mountains have to offer in the off season. I love trail running and rock climbing because it allows me to stay fit but also gives me a chance to see the terrain I ride in the winter from a different perspective,” Fasani said. “Becoming familiar with the terrain makes me more in tune with how to approach the mountains in the winter. Plus these activities, as well as biking, allow me to use a lot of different muscle groups so I feel strong and prepared for winter when the season hits.”
Mountain trails are also an ideal place to make cardio and strength gains without ever stepping foot inside the dreaded gym. “I’ve found trail running with lots of vertical up and down to complement leg-powered skiing very well,” added Leven. “I seek a well-rounded year-round fitness that, if I’m dedicated enough, allows me to do almost anything I want in the outdoors.”
Rest and time away from the slopes is a huge component of training and making gains for next season. X-Games Half Pipe Gold Medalist (2017) Elena Hight makes a focused effort to do this each year.
“Usually by the time all my winter commitments are complete and I have a moment to rest, I crash! I try to spend at least a week or two resting and recovering from the season before I jump into off-season training and summer activities,” Hight said.
Olympic Half Pipe Silver Medalist (2006) Gretchen Bleiler backs her up: “When I was still competing, I definitely took a bit of time to rest in the off season because the winter was so intense and demanding.” Bottom line: don’t be afraid to take some time to chill and let your body heal from the season before you start working on summer strength gains.
Injury Rehab and Prehab
Injuries are a fact of life for any athlete, and summer is prime time to address any lingering issues and take measures to prevent future ones. Hightuses a combination of approaches to do this.
“I believe that committing to a routine that covers all the bases is the best way to feel prepared entering into the season, and stay healthy throughout it,” she says. “My focus is typically on strength, endurance and flexibility. If you have some sort of routine that incorporates all of these elements equally I believe that you will feel great all winter long.”
Listening to your own body, needs, goals and lifestyle is of utmost importance. Brad Jones (co-founder of B Project and Staff Physical Therapist for the U.S. Snowboard Half Pipe Team in the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics and 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics) explains, “The most important tip I could give anyone is to find a healthcare professional that evaluates, and trains skiers/snowboarders regularly. Each person is unique and deserves the individual attention to maximize results. Do not waste time doing what works for someone else — find what works for you.”
Flow With The Seasons
Training, rest and fun may be the common theme for snowsport athletes in the off-season, but taking measures to deal with, combat and drive awareness for climate change is a year-round focus.
Fasani’s snowboarding objectives and daily activities are directly impacted by the shifting weather patterns… “Climate change is affecting my winter seasons by making storms more powerful, inconsistent, and the seasons are becoming shorter,” she says. “We have huge winters followed by drastically shorter winters, and warm patterns that are detrimental for the small mountain towns and resorts. If the winter season ends early, I am out in the mountains with my running shoes or climbing gear as soon as the snow melts.”
Jones has seen this directly affect the athletes he works with and has also adjusted his training programs to deal with this affect of climate change. “Snow drives the industry and creates the demand for the product people buy every year to enjoy it. The amount of winter not only affects the current year, but plans for the future,” he says. “I have seen a steady drop over recent years in the number of athletes under each sponsor. Budgets and timelines do not allow for anything but a quick return to sport. This demand makes the choices for strength training progression even more crucial in providing only usable tools for success.”
Bleiler encourages others to take a more active stand with this threat to the planet and winter sports. “Climate change is definitely changing our winters with warmer, shorter winters with less snowpack overall. But that then carries over into our summer too with hotter, drier summers with more forest fires,” she explains. “The balance and consistency that I remember is becoming more extreme. If you feel the same way and want to get involved with doing something about it, then consider joining Protect Our Winters at protectourwinters.org.”
In this era of snowsports, your next season, and all future seasons, are directly affected by how you choose to spend the time between the first and last snowstorm of the year. Whether it’s hitting the bike park, rehabbing that knee injury, or writing a letter to congress about climate change — make your off-season count.
–Contributor Morgan Sjogren writes about human powered outdoor adventures from her home on the road. While her favorite winter sport is running in a few inches of fresh pow she is game for anything—from backcountry skiing and ice climbing to alpine ice skating.
So you’ve finally tucked the skis away, the jacket has been hung up, or at least thrown into a heap in the corner and it’s time to think about the joys of summer. The lake and the hiking and the biking and the golf and the fishing and all of the other wonderful activities that you’ve been waiting for. Right? Wrong. You’re still thinking of skiing aren’t you. Well, you’re in luck, it’s time to start planning on where you will be taking a trip to next season.
You’ve thought of all the usual suspects, Jackson, Snowbird, Whistler. Maybe you’d like to get off the beaten path. Big Sky? Revelstoke? Is this the year to head across the pond? Is this the year you finally get to Alaska? I hope so, but really where should you take your next adventure? It’s time you finally ski the East.
This sounds crazy you may be saying to yourself, and well, it is, but aren’t most good ideas? Why would you ever do something like this? Simply because you should. Will the skiing actually be any good? Probably not. Is there much tangible enjoyment in not being able to feel your extremities? No. Will your friends be impressed with your Go Pro footage? Not likely. So why? Ask yourself this simple question, do you consider yourself someone who skis, or do you consider yourself a Skier, in the proper sense. If you responded to the latter, and you’ve never left the comfy confines of your western resort, it’s time. Are you one of the countless transplants to move out West and never look back. Maybe this is the year to make a return trip, just to remind yourself of how good you have it now.
So here it is, my top 9 (sort of) destinations to check out and return to the roots of American skiing. There is no scientific methodology implemented here, and these have no real particular order. The beauty of the East is that everything is (relatively) close together, take a trip and enjoy a few.
THE TOP 9 SKI RESORTS IN THE EAST:
MAD RIVER GLEN, VT
Mad River Glen, VT
Even if you’ve never been to the East Coast you’ve seen the ubiquitous stickers challenging to “ski it if you can.” You can, and you should.
Why: This is practically as old school as it gets. If you are searching for the roots of skiing, this would be a great place to start. This place is what Vermont is all about. Not Yuppy Volvo driving Vermont, Flannel bushy beard Vermont. It has a single chair, which is refreshing in todays age of high speed six packs. Also you can find someone to show you around you can actually catch some East Coast air.
When: If it snows. Gnarly, untamed terrain will be fun with a fresh blanket of snow, otherwise you’ll be glad the lifts are so slow.
JAY PEAK, VT
Jay Peak, VT. photo: jay peak
As close to a Western ski experience you’ll find East of the Rockies. The terrain is legit, bolder steeps than you’ll find at Northstar. Even a lot of Easterners don’t get up here, because frankly, it’s far from just about everything.
Why: It snows. No, really, it snows. In fact Jay Peak has received more total snowfall than Squaw Valley the last two seasons. Sure we’re talking about historically low snow totals for California here, but you get the point, it’s Vermont and they’re getting more snow than Squaw. Over the last ten years they’ve averaged 355″ of snow annually. Where will you find that snow? In the trees. Jay is all about the trees. Not wide open mellow Steamboat trees. Tight steep technical Eastern trees. This is more like skiing in the woods. Put your hands in front of your face and crash though the brush. Otherwise test your meddle on the face under the upper terminal of the tram.
When: Whenever. When it isn’t snowing anywhere else it very well may be snowing here. February and March tend to produce the most snowfall.
Stowe, VT. photo: stowe
Really this should also include Sugarloaf, Me as well as leading category of “classic” ski experiences. This is where ski culture was born on the East Coast. If you are about history, this is the place to live it.
Why: Sure the skiing will be good but you are here to say you skied Stowe. You ski Aspen because if you ski you should ski Aspen, same logic applies here.
When: The Holidays. Am I really recommending you plan a ski vacation during the busiest time of year? Yes. When I think Stowe, I think quaint notions like carolers and a crackling fire. It’s just that kind of place.
Killington, VT. photo: killington
The undisputed beast of the East. It’s big (six peaks), it’s crowded(Thanksgiving weekend is like a video game), the snowmaking guns will probably be blasting, and everyone there is kind of a jerk (seriously people think Squaw has attitude, those people have never skied here). This is what East Coast skiing is all about.
Why: For all of the reasons above. The access road party scene is as solid as it gets (think coked out stock traders meets Hot Dog). It has the longest season on the East Coast, and sometimes anywhere. Almost always the first to open and last to close. It’s so big that there is something for everyone, if you know your way around there is some pretty legit terrain in the trees. Hint, if you can see it you can ski it. Everything between the outer boundaries is open. That said, you really come here for one thing. The bumps. You thought mogul skiing died with Jonny Mosely’s ski career? Wrong, it is alive and well and it lives here.
When: Spring. Killington will be the first to open, but the time to be here is in April and May (they even extend their hours to 8:30am to 5:00pm) Much is said about Outer Limits, steepest, longest, widest, bestest, but the fun really starts when things shift over to Superstar. All year they stockpile snow so that Superstar can last until June, and it goes off. Pack your “fate” pants and brush off your Dynastar Assaults and bash the spring bumps with the local legends.
MT SAINTE ANNE, QE
Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec
If you thought Jay Peak was far away then you should check this place out. It’s a trek from anywhere, unless you find yourself in Quebec City, which is only 25 miles away.
Why: Its black diamond runs are real black diamond runs. It’s steep and the snow is good. These trees aren’t for amateurs. It rises out of the St. Lawrence River and has spectacular views. French Canadiens are pompous jerks but that’s just part of their charm. No one around here speaks English, really, no one. This isn’t Whistler, when you are here, you know you are in another country. It has night skiing from the top serviced by the gondola, which is necessarily because it is cold. Really really cold. Mandatory puffy coat for this one. Warm up with some poutine.
When: I’ve only been here once, it was January and boy was it cold, even by Eastern standards. That said, the snow quality was excellent, no freeze/thaw cycle here. Both my dad and I got frost bite but ultimately it was totally worth it. Did I mention it will be cold.
Whiteface, NY. photo: whiteface
Sticking with the cold theme here. It hosted the Olympics in 1980 (the 1932 ski events were elsewhere). The mountain is owned by the State of New York, and is still a true skier’s mountain.
Why: So you are one of those people who says base “villages” are stupid. Then this is your place. Adirondack park regulations make building very very difficult, the base operations could be considered spartan at best. No shops, no condos, no aquatic centers. What you get instead is completely unspoiled views of the Wilmington Notch and the wilderness of the surrounding Adirondacks. Nearby Lake Placid (about 10 miles away) belongs amongst the pantheon of true mountain villages. Locations such as Sun Valley or Aspen have nothing on this place when it comes to authenticity. Twice host of Olympics virtually all of the venues are still open and used (You’ve heard of the Miracle on Ice right?) Get outside the village of Lake Placid and it gets wildly upstate quick, which is a good thing, (ain’t no Starbucks ’round here bud.) Back to the skiing, longest vertical of the East at 3,430 ft. For reference Squaw Valley is 2,850. The Slides is a hikeable portion that can access side country to get your adrenaline going. Will they be open when you get there? Most likely no. Then again did you remember to pack your probe/shovel/transceiver? Most likely no.
When: There’s no beating around the bush, the weather sucks here. It’s called Iceface for a reason. It will be cold, really cold, and cloudy. Even in the summer that same damn cloud just seems to cling to the peak (5th highest in NY). It can be sunny your whole drive here (which will be considerable unless you’re coming from Montreal), it will be cloudy when you arrive. Bottom line you don’t come here to get a tan, you come here to ski and live the winter. My highest level of recommendation, everyone should go to Lake Placid at least once in their lives.
Tuckermans Ravine, NH
TUCKERMAN’S RAVINE, NH
So you did remember to pack your probe/shovel/transceiver? An absolute must for a true East Coast backcountry adventure. Full disclosure, I’ve never skied the ravine despite growing up with a picture of it on our living room wall. I’m embarrassed by this and feel kind of like a poser of an East Coaster. This one is on my personal list.
Why: Ummm… it’s backcountry skiing on the East Coast, that’s why. It rests along the side of the highest peak in the Northeast (Mt. Washington). It’s a huge scene, there’s no way around the fact that it’s absolutely mandatory. Even Chris Davenport went there for a Warren Miller film a few years ago. Chris Davenport knows what he’s doing when it comes to these things. It’s steep, rugged, and there can even be avalanche activity.
When: Spring. April is traditionally the time to get your friends together and hike your way up. Snow stability issues and really really difficult weather conditions make this less of a winter time activity.
Snowshoe Mounain, WV. photo: Chris McLennan Photography
Really? There needed to be a southern resort on this list. Snowshoe takes that honorary spot.
Why: I’ve never been to Snowshoe, will I ever go, probably not. Have you ever been there? Probably not. Do you even know anyone who has ever been there? Probably not. There’s your most compelling reason right there. Sometimes the backstory is more important than the actual skiing. Who doesn’t want to tell the guy on the chairlift about that epic day you had south of the Mason Dixon line.
When: This is one of those places you just need to go when you are there. When and why will you ever be in West Virginia? Beats me, but if you are make sure you pack your skis.
WEST MOUNTAIN, NY
West Mountain, NY. photo: west mountain
Where is West Mountain and why on earth would you go there. Well… it is in Queensbury, NY, overlooking the beautiful city of Glens Falls. Enjoy those panoramic views of the paper mills. This isn’t about West in particular, this is about the countless small ski areas that dot the Northeast. This is the type of place that so many kids get their start at, and coincidently where I learned to ski. This is what skiing used to be like. It’s amazing that places like this can even still exist, places like Willard, NY; Mt. Abram, ME; Suicide Six in Vermont. Make sure you visit these hidden gems before they recede into history.
Why: Does the thought of a ski in ski out Starbucks make you sick. $100 lift tickets? Fur coats and gourmet lunches? You won’t find these amenities here. Valet parking? There isn’t even a high speed lift. This is the kind of place that the lifties wear carharts and work boots, because they don’t even ski. There is no “gaper” day because everyone dresses like a gaper without any notion of irony. These family mountains are really about families, not just relieving them of their money.
When: Catch them while you can. Places like this rely more heavily on natural snowfall, January or February will be best. If they have night skiing, most do, then you should really do that for the most authentic experience. You’ll spend most of the time on the lift, but really the skiing isn’t that great anyway. You’re here for the experience.
Jay Peak, VT
What kind of list is a top 9 list anyhow? Well the 10 spot goes for you to chose. The East Coast has dozens of mountains all within driving distance of each other. To try to separate them is a futile exercise. Everyone will have their favorite for a reason. You won’t need powder skis, even if it snows, so sharpen up your carving skis or pack up your twin tips. This is the East so you had better take some park laps. Why are kids like LJ Streno so good on rails? What else is there to do? If you don’t yet own a TTT (too tall T) you’d better find one, even though it will be too cold to rock it. Hopefully your jacket is long enough so the TTT doesn’t stick out the bottom making you look like a complete dork. Once again this is the East, no one will be afraid to mock you openly. Ski season is 5 1/2 months away, it’s never too early to start planing for next year. This is the year… To ski the East.
Forget buying lift tickets, buy the whole resort. Priced at a modest $3.5 million, this little gem overlooking Flathead Lake is up for grabs. With three lifts, a rope tow, 1,000 skiable acres, and a 17,000 square-foot lodge, Blacktail Mountain is fully operational and ready for the taking. A small cozy resort tucked in the hills of northwest Montana–what’s not to want?
Blacktail Mountain receives around 250 inches of annual snowfall and the summit stands at 6,780 ft. The resort is unique in that you get to ski a top to bottom run before even sitting on a chairlift. If I had 3.5 million to spend, buying a ski area would definitely be at the top of my shopping list.
Kristoffer Turdell entered his very first Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) just three years ago. In 2018, he was crowned the Freeride World Tour (FWT) champion, and that’s not even the most impressive thing about Kristoffer’s lifestyle. While many competitors in the FWT train year round, Kristoffer often returns home to work in the mines in his home town of Gällivare, Sweden, a tireless and demanding task. His work ethic between skiing, working and studying is one that has never been seen before.
Learn about Kristoffer’s home town, beginning of his ski career and his thoughts on competing in the FWT in this beautifully crafted short documentary presented by Black Crows Skis.
Image by Jeff Cricco, courtesy of Wolf Creek Ski Area
Over the past 30 years, the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture developers, headed by billionaire Texan B.J. Combs, has been trying to build a behemoth resort property at the base of Colorado’s resident powder wonderland ski area, Wolf Creek.
The prospective lodge, which according to The Durango Herald would hold up to 10,000 people.
While Wolf Creek is modest in its infrastructure, its snowfall totals are anything but. In fact, the southern Colorado ski area averages the most annual snowfall in Colorado. It’s known for its snow and not for the crowds, unlike many of its northern brethren. Many skiers would prefer it to stay that way; an adventure off the beaten path. And with recent events, it appears it just might for the time being.
In 2017, after the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) approved a land swap, giving developers access to the land at the base of Wolf Creek, a federal judge ruled that the Forest Service had not followed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to its full extent.
NEPA states that a federal agency must completely evaluate the environmental risks before approving a decision. Environmentalists argued that the USFS had overlooked its duty, and Federal Judge Richard P. Match agreed.
Wednesday marked the USFS’s deadline to appeal Judge Match’s decision—they chose to remain silent. The Durango Herald reached out to the USFS and U.S. Justice Department for comments, but their requests were not returned.
The situation is not over yet, as the developers appealed Wednesday, claiming the evaluation of the environmental impacts of the development were done fairly and legally.
For now however, it would appear that without an appeal from the USFS, the 10,000 guest resort will have to wait.
For some, this may come as poor news. But for the skiers that travel to Wolf Creek for the deep snow and lack of crowds, it’s cause for celebration.