Mustang Powder's staff isn't in the business of making guests look bad — on skis, that is. But challenge them to a beer-chugging contest — as a group of French-Canadians did last winter — and they'll drink you under the table. It's that kind of laid back place. With 31,000 acres in BC's Monashee Range, Mustang is also one of the largest cat-skiing operations in North America. But it's variety, not size, that makes Mustang a must-ski outfitter among smart powder skiers. Over 40 percent of the acreage is high alpine, which means the cats drop you atop the kind of narrow chutes and bowls that are usually reserved for heli snobs. Below treeline, you'll find 40 named runs and 5,000-foot peak-to-valley lines. And while lodge owners Ali and Nick Holmes - Smith are hip to beer-swilling showdowns, they also know that even core brahs won't diss luxury. The outdoor hot tub, live-in masseuse, and gourmet kitchen will make this $1.75 million post-and-beam lodge feel like a castle in your own powder kingdom.
Inside Line: Blackcomb, BC
With the 2010 Winter Olympics around the corner, all eyes are on Whistler Blackcomb. The masses will descend on Whistler Mountain, where the official events will take place. Which means Blackcomb will be the place to ski. Locals know that Blackcomb outperforms its better-known neighbor when it comes to off-piste terrain and jibbing. Plus, Blackcomb’s lift lines are shorter, its park and pipe bigger, and its backcountry steeper. And with the new Peak-to-Peak gondola—a record-setting 2.73-mile-long feat of engineering—now connecting the two mountains, you can easily zip over to the big W. But with Blackcomb’s terrain, why bother?