Or Try This: 25 Alternatives to the Top Resorts - Ski Mag

Or Try This: 25 Alternatives to the Top Resorts

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Icefall

Killer Trips 2006: If skiing's not your deal, then check out these alternatives to

Skiing

's top resort picks. To check out the top 25 resorts,

click here.

#1-#5

VAIL: CLIMB ICE

(above)

For $225 to $350, Colorado Mountain School guides Eli Helmuth (a sponsored Black Diamond athlete) and Dale Remsberg (perennial top competitor in the Ouray, Colorado, Ice Festival) will get you geared up and clinging to Vail's icefalls. Beginners learn basic ice- and mixed-climbing moves on easy routes like Spiral Staircase, while hardened ice vets can sharpen their skills on Grade V routes like The Fang. cmschool.com

SQUAW: FIND YOUR WAY TO LOST TRAIL LODGE
Strap on climbing skins or snowshoes and make the 3.9-mile jaunt up Coldstream Trail to Lost Trail Lodge. Or let 'em haul you in by snowmobile. Basic rooms are $55 and include a Jacuzzi; $12 more gets you catered meals. About six miles from Squaw, LTL is surrounded by thousands of acres of backcountry, including 2,600 vertical feet of chutes and open trees. losttraillodge.com

ALTA/SNOWBIRD: CLIMB ROCK
Hire Exum Utah Mountain Adventures and climb the 1,000-foot granite Gate Buttress, Little Cottonwood Canyon's welcome mat, 3,000 vertical feet below Alta. You'll puzzle the mountain goats while ascending the 5.8 slab and crack pitches of Tarzan or Tingey's Torture. From $230. exum.ofutah.com

JACKSON HOLE: TAKE A CLASS
This winter, Jackson Hole Mountain Guides squeezed its popular Winter Safety Courses into one-day and one-evening sessions that focus on terrain assessment and search-and-rescue techniques. If you want more intensive snowpack-analysis training, jump into the three-day, Level I Avalanche Course. The guide-to-student ratio is an intimate one-to-five. From $100. Book early; they fill up fast. jhmg.com

WHISTLER: HELI-FISH (AND SKI)
Helivision Sport picks you up at your hotel in Whistler and flies you through remote mountains and glaciers to a secluded fishing spot in the Squamish River Valley. After you've reeled in a three-pound rainbow or seven-pound steelhead, Helivision drops you on top of a mountain for some fresh tracks. Two-day combo packages (one day fishing, one skiing) start at US$650. helivisionsport.com

["#6-#10"]

#6-#10

SNOWMASS: LEARN TO DRIVE ON ICE
Aspen Winter Driving Experience's performance-driving course (from $375 a day) puts you behind the wheel of a Volvo S40 or Land Rover Discovery and sends you fishtailing and four-wheel-drifting around the frozen, hairpin racetrack at Woody Creek. Instructors teach you how to drive without rolling your rig or mowing down bystanders. Look for more on AWDE in the January issue of Skiing. aspenwinterdriving.com

CRESTED BUTTE: BE A SLEDHEAD FOR A DAY
After a safety talk by Crested Butte's Timber Sleds (970-209-6720) owner Greg Grossman, you'll drive two miles outside town to the Keebler Pass parking lot. Twenty minutes later, you and your snowmobile will arrive at Owen Mountain and Ruby and Purple peaks, all rife with 30-degree bowls and chutes of low-moisture, southwest-Colorado powder. But don't even think about putting P-Tex to fresh unless you're fully avalanche-prepared and savvy. The Alpineer (alpineer.com) rents beacons, shovels, and probes for $16. Check cbavalanchecenter.org for avalanche forecasts.


MAMMOTH: SOAK IN HOT CREEK (right)
Twenty minutes east of Mammoth Lakes off of Hot Creek Hatchery Road, icy-cold Mammoth Creek dumps into a small gorge, where fissures warm the water with hot gas, making the temperature just toasty enough for comfort. Hence the name, Hot Creek.

BIG SKY: SHOP LIKE A RANCHER
Whether you plan to ski in Carhartts and a Pendleton or you just want to look like a local, Murdoch's is the place to buy your man-cloth. At 38,000 square feet, the Bozeman store is home to 9,500 pairs of jeans, 5,800 pairs of boots, and lots of electric cattle prods, should you need to rouse your buddies to make first lifts. murdochs.com

ASPEN: GET SMART AT THE ASPEN INSTITUTE
All that skiing turning your brain to mush? Stop by the Institute's Great Decisions Series-a forum on issues outlined in the 2006 Foreign Policy Association briefing-and get into a heated debate about, say, France's place in the geopolitical landscape. If participation makes you dizzy, policy celebs like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright or former EPA head Christine Todd Whitman tell you what's wrong and/or right with the world. aspeninstitute.org

["#11-#15"]

#11-#15

HEAVENLY: ROLL THE DICE
Tahoe's South Shore has all the money-losing options as Vegas: slots, blackjack, roulette, and, of course, booze. Hit Caesar's Club Nero for cheap drinks and noise, or go to the Lakeside Inn and Casino for a quieter experience. caesarstahoe.com; lakesideinn.com

TELLURIDE: RIP THE SAN JUANS
Ultimate San Juan Ski Package: one lift ticket to Telluride, which includes a half-day of guided, hike-to skiing (worth $150); one day of heli-skiing (worth $895); one day of guided, lift-accessed skiing at Silverton Mountain (worth $164); one day of cat-skiing near Durango Mountain Resort (worth $225); three nights in Telluride's Camel's Garden Hotel (worth $1,125); one night at Silverton's Inn of the Rockies (worth $125); and one night at Apple Orchard in Durango (worth $125). Sold separately, all that skiing and lodging would run you $2,809. You pay $1,875. helitrax.net

KIRKWOOD: ICE FISH ON CAPLES LAKE
Head to Woodfords Station tackle shop on Highway 88, where Dave Kirby will set you up with a fishing license, ice pole, and pole holder for less than $40. Drive to Lake Caples. Bring bait and a bucket to sit on, and settle for nothing less than 15-pound Mackinaw. woodfordsstation.com


FERNIE: CAT-SKI AT ISLAND LAKE LODGE (right)
Open cat-skiing slots (three days for US$1,497 and up) with Island Lake Lodge, or its sister property, Powder Cowboy, are few and far between, but you can put your name on the waiting list. If you're in Fernie between Christmas and New Year's, take a one-day outing ($294). Last year, PC opened 2,400 acres of new bowl and tree skiing, with lines as long as 2,500 vertical feet. islandlakeresorts.com

STEAMBOAT: TRY NORDIC JUMPING THE NON-NORDIC WAY
Click into your alpine or tele setup, point 'em downhill, wait for a wave from the spotter down below-and send it off of one of Howelsen Hill's Nordic jumps. Four jumps are open on Tuesda nights to anyone with 20 bucks and a supersize set of cojones. Contact the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club: sswsc.org

["#16-#20"]

#16-#20

PARK CITY: BE THE OLYMPIAN (below)
Two hundred bucks will put you on an Olympic track with an experienced bobsled driver who'll push it to 80 miles per hour as five g's of force pin your eyelids to your brow ridge. Total ride time: less than a minute. If the cost/payoff ratio sounds out of whack, shell out $22 and ride the zipline at a mere 55 miles per hour. olyparks.com


CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN: EXPERIENCE MUSIC PROJECT
Designed by Frank O. Gehry, one of the most celebrated architects of the last hundred years, Seattle's EMP is a fully interactive music-history museum. Visiting rock, folk, punk, funk, country, and hip-hop buffs put on headphones, turn on the EMP's handheld device, and listen to the legends talk about the artifacts on display. Hendrix on his many guitars. Parliament's Bootsy Collins on his star-shaped sunglasses. Bob Dylan on his harmonicas. All that's missing is the brown acid and body odor. emplive.org


MOUNT BAKER: EAT AN EAGLE BURGER (KIDDING. BUT THERE'S A COOL RAPTOR CENTER AN HOUR AWAY.)
Baker socked in? Head 50 minutes west to the Sardis Raptor Center in Ferndale. Marvel at Wanagi the neurotic but cuddly bald eagle. But watch out for Mote the barn owl, who's known to get randy with center director Sharon Wolters, who tell us: "He'll jump on my head and try to have his way with it." sardisraptor.org

KICKING HORSE: GO TO A PEELER
People say Golden, B.C., is rough around the edges. But they haven't cozied up to the Roadhouse Tavern, with its fireplace, drink specials-and talented strippers. Check out Freshmeat Mondays, when a new dancer-right off the bus from, say, the cultural hotbed of Bountiful-makes her debut on stage. 250-344-5231

ALPINE MEADOWS: GET THE BEST VIEW
Test your piloting skills while soaring 4,000 feet above the Carson Valley in a 240,000-cubic-foot hot-air balloon kept afloat by 21 million BTUs. Then move aside and let Lake Tahoe Balloons pilot Aaron Dieringer grab the controls and try some tricks, like literally skimming over creeks. Just hope you don't land in a bull pasture, which has been known to happen. $225 per person. laketahoeballoons.com

["#21-#25"]

#21-#25

ALYESKA: NOTCH FIRST DESCENTS WITH CHUGACH POWDER GUIDES (below)
Girdwood, Alaska-based Chugach Powder Guides just got permission from the U.S. Forest Service to more than double its skiable acres (to nearly two million). What's in it for you? CPG-led exploratory trips to untouched slopes in the Chugach and Tordrillo ranges. At $775 per day, trips aren't cheap, but that's the cost of deflowering 16,000 vertical feet in a day-guaranteed. chugachpowderguides.com

TAOS: GO TO A VERY EXPENSIVE SPA
Taos's thin air leave you breathless? Buy yourself a High Altitude Adjustment Treatment at El Monte Sagrado Living Spa. After teaching you the art of "mindful deep slow breathing," resident masseurs give you the ultimate rubdown, focusing on acupressure points around the lungs. Wafting about the place are the smells of sandalwood and frankincense, which oxygenate your sangre, and smell pretty darn dreamy too. From $180. elmontesagrado.com


SNOWBASIN: SKI TOUR WITH EXUM UTAH
Climb the Wasatch's 11,326-foot Pfeifferhorn or make a multi-canyon tour with the Utah branch of the venerable Wyoming outfit. If you've never slapped skin to ski or dug a snow pit, now's your chance to learn. Other courses include avalanche safety, mountaineering, and even crevasse rescue (in spring). From $95. 801-550-3986; exum.ofutah.com

THE CANYONS: USE YOUR BEACON
Rescue simulated avalanche victims at Wasatch Backcountry Rescue Group's Rescue Training Center, just outside of The Canyons' Sundial Lodge. Use of the center is free of charge. So what's your excuse? wasatchbackcountryrescue.org

BRECKENRIDGE: SNOWKITE WITH COLORADO KITEFORCE
Any old thrill seeker with 200 bucks can now rent a snowkite, learn about wind, run through safety drills, and then rip across Summit County's frozen Dillon Reservoir at up to 30 miles per hour. Prove that you're not a total spaz, and instructor Anton Rainold might let you catch air off one of the monster kickers. coloradokiteforce.com

NOVEMBER 2005b>
Baker socked in? Head 50 minutes west to the Sardis Raptor Center in Ferndale. Marvel at Wanagi the neurotic but cuddly bald eagle. But watch out for Mote the barn owl, who's known to get randy with center director Sharon Wolters, who tell us: "He'll jump on my head and try to have his way with it." sardisraptor.org

KICKING HORSE: GO TO A PEELER
People say Golden, B.C., is rough around the edges. But they haven't cozied up to the Roadhouse Tavern, with its fireplace, drink specials-and talented strippers. Check out Freshmeat Mondays, when a new dancer-right off the bus from, say, the cultural hotbed of Bountiful-makes her debut on stage. 250-344-5231

ALPINE MEADOWS: GET THE BEST VIEW
Test your piloting skills while soaring 4,000 feet above the Carson Valley in a 240,000-cubic-foot hot-air balloon kept afloat by 21 million BTUs. Then move aside and let Lake Tahoe Balloons pilot Aaron Dieringer grab the controls and try some tricks, like literally skimming over creeks. Just hope you don't land in a bull pasture, which has been known to happen. $225 per person. laketahoeballoons.com

["#21-#25"]

#21-#25

ALYESKA: NOTCH FIRST DESCENTS WITH CHUGACH POWDER GUIDES (below)
Girdwood, Alaska-based Chugach Powder Guides just got permission from the U.S. Forest Service to more than double its skiable acres (to nearly two million). What's in it for you? CPG-led exploratory trips to untouched slopes in the Chugach and Tordrillo ranges. At $775 per day, trips aren't cheap, but that's the cost of deflowering 16,000 vertical feet in a day-guaranteed. chugachpowderguides.com

TAOS: GO TO A VERY EXPENSIVE SPA
Taos's thin air leave you breathless? Buy yourself a High Altitude Adjustment Treatment at El Monte Sagrado Living Spa. After teaching you the art of "mindful deep slow breathing," resident masseurs give you the ultimate rubdown, focusing on acupressure points around the lungs. Wafting about the place are the smells of sandalwood and frankincense, which oxygenate your sangre, and smell pretty darn dreamy too. From $180. elmontesagrado.com


SNOWBASIN: SKI TOUR WITH EXUM UTAH
Climb the Wasatch's 11,326-foot Pfeifferhorn or make a multi-canyon tour with the Utah branch of the venerable Wyoming outfit. If you've never slapped skin to ski or dug a snow pit, now's your chance to learn. Other courses include avalanche safety, mountaineering, and even crevasse rescue (in spring). From $95. 801-550-3986; exum.ofutah.com

THE CANYONS: USE YOUR BEACON
Rescue simulated avalanche victims at Wasatch Backcountry Rescue Group's Rescue Training Center, just outside of The Canyons' Sundial Lodge. Use of the center is free of charge. So what's your excuse? wasatchbackcountryrescue.org

BRECKENRIDGE: SNOWKITE WITH COLORADO KITEFORCE
Any old thrill seeker with 200 bucks can now rent a snowkite, learn about wind, run through safety drills, and then rip across Summit County's frozen Dillon Reservoir at up to 30 miles per hour. Prove that you're not a total spaz, and instructor Anton Rainold might let you catch air off one of the monster kickers. coloradokiteforce.com

NOVEMBER 2005

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