You’ve been crafting your technique, practicing high-speed turns, and hucking in private. Now it’s time to show off, and there’s only one place to do it: Squaw. Wait for a deep day, wear something bright, and hop on KT-22 chair (Headwall and Granite Chief work too). Take a warmup lap—or don’t—and scout your line. Then drop in, stomp, and ski away casually like it was no big deal. Wait for the cheers. There’s a reason Robb Gaffney called his book Squallywood.
Photo: Keoki Flagg
Skier: Timmy Dutton
Steep, overstuffed chutes and easy access: Nothing in the Pacific Northwest compares with Alpental’s backcountry for epic lines so easily reached. This is big avy country, though, so keep your yahoo in check and, for chrissake, know how to use a beacon. If you’re sweat-averse, cruise out across the high traverse, pop over the first knoll, and drop into Sharon Bowl, staying skier’s left to hit the Trash Can. Feeling frisky? Keep traversing, climb up to Pineapple Pass, and drop into Great Scott Bowl and Big Trees.
Photo: Grant Gunderson
Skier: Erica Engle
Red Mountain, BC
If you have by chance made your way to the tiny mountain hamlet of Rossland, consider yourself infinitely wise. You’ve discovered the great inequality of skiing in Canada’s most ski-blessed province. Yes, just 2.5 hours north of Spokane, Washington, at the southwestern edge of the Monashee range, there hides one big mountain loaded with wildly huge snows, visited by nary a soul. The folks at Red Resort like it that way, per their “Red Sucks” marketing campaign. But they can’t keep away the intelligent ones: 2,700 acres of steep, nook-and-cranny tree skiing (1,000 of which are new this season) and 300 inches of “Kootenay Kind” dictate otherwise. Yes, anything but sucky.
Photo: Dave Heath
Skier: Colston Beatson
The John Paul Express, Snowbasin
Tucked away at the oft-overlooked resort of Snowbasin, the John Paul Express—a high-speed quad—accesses just over 2,400 vertical feet of steep, technical, and often quite rowdy terrain. With dozens of fall lines to choose from and nary a wait at the base, John Paul delivers expert skiers to an untracked northern Wasatch paradise. The No Name side, skier’s left off the lift, offers ripe, wide-open pow fields, and the Grizzly Downhill side drops into a north-facing gulch choked with powdery tree lines. If that’s not enough, there’s always the Hell’s Canyon sidecountry gate.
Photo: Steven Lloyd
Skier: Jared Allen
Big Sky, Montana
At four minutes and 1,450 vertical feet, the statistics of Big Sky’s tram seem modest by cable-car standards. But as you get your first look at Big Couloir and the Apple Core on the ride up, expect to develop a slight nervous tremor. Puckering descents tumble off the top of Lone Peak in every direction of the compass: Dictator Chutes, The Gullies, Dirtbag Wall. Plus, across the cirque, the A–Z Chutes offer a couple dozen less traveled hike-to slots for the vertically inclined. Don’t leave home without your hop turn.
Photo: Kene Sperry
Athlete: Liz Wells
Take the coolest town on earth, surround it with four resorts, sprinkle with powder, douse liberally with tequila, hit Pulse. Welcome to Aspen. For starters, the terrain—Snowmass’s Hanging Valley, Ajax’s Trainor’s, Highlands’ Five Fingers backcountry—is unreal…and empty. Not so the bars—or your local buddy’s couch, where you were planning to crash for the night.
Photo: Matt Power
Skier: Greg Ernst
Jay Peak? Awesome, but it’s got a run-out problem. Mad River? Even better, but good luck logging more than six or seven Single Chairs on a powder day. Stowe may be snooty, its lift tickets may be shockingly expensive, and its tony slopeside rich-guy enclave may be unapologetically lavish and luxurious. But its tree runs are steep, sustained, and easily accessed, and no one there cares if you disagree.
Skier: Ben Peters