conSKIerge’s Choices of Best Ski Areas
Last week we posted an article entitled “Is there a “Best” Ski Resort?.” We have been rightly accused of that article being a “cop out” in that we didn’t really man up and opine as to our favorites. Knowing that this was greatly upsetting to our millions of followers and that many people globally have lost sleep over our utter failure to voice our obnoxious opinions, we decided it was imperative that we speak up.
As you might expect, our opinions must be accompanied by caveats. We have not attempted to come up with THE best areas in all of North America. As we have stated in the past, we can be very, very happy at a unique eastern area as anywhere in North America. But, let’s face it folks, on most days the east isn’t the west. With rare exception (can you say Jay Peak?), eastern areas are forced to rely heavily on man made snow, and too often natural snow can arrive in an immature form (aka rain). Life isn’t fair (and yes we hated that when our mother reminded us of that every day), and we don’t think it is fair to have the east compete with the west. Hence we have two lists – east and west.
It probably won’t come as a surprise, but our focus is on the skiing; not the dinners, not the movies, not the spas, but the raw skiing. We don’t go to ski places looking for fancy food and the latest culture. Apparently there are places like NYC and LA for that. We are happiest skiing, sleeping and repeating. Finally, we have made no attempt to spread out choices geographically. Our favorites are where they are. We have skied most of the great places in CA, but they don’t make our top 5, and we ain’t putting one of them in for the sake of making CA folks feel better. Even though we know that the future of ski areas are riding on our choices, we have our opinions and we are sticking to them.
With all that nonsense out of the way…the moment you have all been waiting for is here.
Favorite Western Areas
Alta – Why – It’s often deep and there is plenty of steep. It’s raw skiing perhaps at its best with hidden chutes and primo tree runs. Why not – lots of traversing at times (does ALTA stand for “Another Long Traverse Again?”).
Snowbird – Why – A modern version of Alta with the same steep and deep and 3,400 ft of straight down vertical. Why not – long tram lines and an increasingly corporate culture.
Whitewater, BC – Why – great in-bounds tree skiing and few crowds. Why not – middle of nowhere in British Columbia.
Jackson Hole – Why – 4,000 ft of vertical with varied terrain. Why not – the rich and famous have discovered it and lots of terrain faces south.
Telluride – Why – Good mix of terrain; beautiful views and an authentic western town right at the base. Why not – snow can be hit or miss.
Favorite Eastern Areas
Jay Peak – Why – some of the best tree skiing in the country for all ability levels with an average of 350 inch snowfall. Why not – mother nature is in charge (wind/cold) and hard to get to.
Mad River Glen – Why – The Alta of the east – “Ski it if You Can” attitude. Why not – increasingly lack of snow and long lines.
Sugarbush – Why – Great mix of terrain and Castlerock Chair. Why not – outdated lift infrastructure often leads to mechanical issues.
Stowe – Why – The Front Four – particularly Starr and Goat. Why not – bad Vail management and crowds – both on the access road and mountain.
Cannon – Why – Good mix of terrain with old New England feel. Why not – easy to get to means crowds and exposed location means windy and cold.
We have been lucky enough to ski many areas in North America, but, of course there are still some areas on our hit list – Mt Baker, Mammoth, Mount Bohemia, Castle Mountain, Schweitzer and Silver Mountain top the list. So, the lists may change with time but that’s where they stand right now.
Ski Well; Be Well