Big mountain skiing doesn't shut down with the resorts. In fact, thanks to safer snowpacks and longer days, it's just getting going. To inspire you to fire up your quads and join the ski mountaineering club, we've mapped out three starter peaks with whopper-sized vertical drops (try 7,400 feet), tested the latest alpine touring gear, and distilled pinpointed advice from pro alpinists Hilaree O'Neill, Andrew McLean, and Alison Gannett. Whatever else you need to get going can be found in Doug Coombs's overstuffed pack (which we deconstruct on pages 70 and 71) and the nation's top climbing schools (page 68). That's everything but the lungpower—can't help you there.