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Heli Flyover

ONE-UP YOUR BUDDIES

Want to silence that guy at the office who's always bragging about his latest heliskiing trip? Say hello to megayacht heliskiing. Kick back on the 201-foot

M/Y Absinthe

as it cruises up the coast of British Columbia, then climb into the onboard helicopter to ski virgin powder fields in the Coast range. Bored by the monotony of skiing all those long lines of uncut powder? Hop back onto the bird for side trips of heli-hiking, heli-flyfishing or—we're not exactly sure how this works—heli-whale watching. The inaugural season for Sea to Sky Helisports and Megayacht Adventures is scheduled for March and April. If you want to impress your friends—and earn lifetime loyalty—bring 'em along. It's $24,000 per day for a 12-person private charter.

seatoskyholidays.com —Greg Ditrinco

SKI AND SURF
What if you could combine your favorite sport—that's skiing, of course— with your second-favorite pastime—in the very same day? Thanks to the geographical fortune of these two resorts, seemingly disparate activities can be offered within a snowball's—or sand dollar's—throw.
Ski and Windsurf at Mount Hood Meadows, Ore. With nearby Hood River the windsurfing capital of the U.S., skiers game to give it a go get to the mountain for first chair, when the snow is still hard and fast, and ski through midmorning's perfect corn snow. By noon, they're on the road toward the town of Hood River, 30 minutes away, and a jetty along the Columbia River called The Hook, a good place for beginner windsurfers. Big Winds, in Hood River, offers a two-hour lesson, with equipment, for $60. Mount Hood: 800-754-4663; skihood.com. Big Winds: 541-386-6086; bigwinds.com/lesson
Ski and Surf at Mt. Baldy, Calif. Only 90 minutes from the blue Pacific, Mt. Baldy serves up a unique pre-slopes warm-up. Hit San Onofre State Beach for sunrise break, then ascend 8,000 feet from sea level for an afternoon cruising Baldy's super-steep terrain. 909-981-3344; mtbaldy.com —Susan Reifer

TAKE AN AVALANCHE CLINIC
First there's the basic gear: beacon, probe pole, shovel, pack. Then there's the serious stuff: snow saw, thermo-meters, slope meter, snow crystal card, magnifier. And there's the chalk talk: What conditions create avalanches? What slope angles are prone to sliding? What's hoar frost? (It's got nothing to do with unfriendly brothels.) And then there's using what you've learned in the field. It takes you 15 minutes to find a buried transceiver—way too long. You eye a slope and try to evaluate its snow. Should you ski it? You realize the perfect answer doesn't exist. There are only options, and you're looking for the one that yields the most fun without leaving you in a snowy tomb. The backcountry beckons, and you respond, senses alert, notes from the chalk talk in a plastic bag in your pack. But will they help when you're surrounded by snow, silence and choices? You won't know until you try. American Avalanche Institute: avalanchecourse.com —Rachel Odell

BUST INTO THE TERRAIN PARK
Admit it: It looks like fun. You know you want to try it. But you're a little intimidated. After all, the jib parks are populated by hooded 12-year-old grommets who barely wait until the guy who jumped before them collects himself and scoots out of the way. And you're not 12. But contrary to conventional wisdom, you don't have to be a member of the under-20 set to take command of the terrain park. You just need reinforcements. That comes in the form of a terrain park clinic, offered at nearly every ski resort these days. By taking a clinic you'll: 1) not have to be the one to yell at the 12-year-olds to move out of the way; 2) be in the company of other greenies who, like yourself, can't bandy about the lingo and make you feel more inept than you already do; 3) finally nail that kicker or slide that rail—no excuses. You'll also learn terrain park etiquette and safety (if the landing ist visible, use a spotter), enough terms to form a simple sentence ("I jibbed a six-foot rail then did a 180 tap-tail) and maybe even gain the confidence to return on your own. Someday. —Samantha Berman

RACE THE POLE PEDAL PADDLE
Remember, this is Jackson Hole, Wyo., where the superjock-to-slacker ratio is at least two to one. So unless you're an Olympic-caliber athlete, you're not going to win the annual Pole Pedal Paddle race. That's why you register in the "fun category. Not that skiing down a 3,500-foot-vertical giant slalom, slogging 10K on the nordic course, cycling 20 miles over not-exactly-flat terrain and paddling nine miles on the Snake River is everyone's idea of "fun. But then again, this is Jackson Hole. polepedalpaddle.com —R.O.[NEXT]SKI WITH THE BARD
There may not have been powder days in Shakespeare's time, but the Bard still appreciated the white stuff. In Macbeth, for instance, Malcolm muses that "black Macbeth will seem as pure as snow. So what exactly does Shakespeare have to do with skiing? In Oregon, quite a bit. The country's biggest Shakespeare festival is held every year in Ashland, which also happens to be home to Mt. Ashland, a 1,150-vertical-foot ski hill. Its 200 acres, 23 trails and four lifts (including the aptly named Sonnet Triple Chair) might not inspire a soliloquy, but it's a fun, hometown hill with plenty of heart. And the small yet charming hamlet of Ashland satisfies powder and culture hounds alike with its excellent dining and lodging. The curtains conveniently rise in mid-February, during the height of ski season. So,what's on the bill this year? The Winter's Tale, of course. Box office: 541-482-4331; osfashland.org. Mt. Ashland: 541-482-2897; mtashland.com —R.O.





CUT LOOSE WITH THE GIRLS
Hey ladies, not quite ready to charge the halfpipe? Join a women's clinic. There's something about an all-chick vibe that turns a "maybe into a "why not? Luckily, there's one for just about every aspect of skiing these days. The halfpipe-shy can learn to drop right in at Keystone's annual Betty Fest, Jan. 21—22 and Feb. 11—12 ($195; keystoneresort.com). How about freeing those heels? Babes in the Backcountry offers "Tele Teasers, intro-to-telemark clinics for newbies (Jan. 7 at Loveland, Colo., Feb. 25 at Sugar Bowl, Calif.; $100; babesinthebackcountry.com). Jackson Hole's Women's Ski Clinic takes it to the next level during a kick-butt, four-day camp (Jan. 19—22, March 2—5, $820 with lift ticket; jacksonhole.com). And at Stratton Mountain, Vt., Ladies Thursdays lets women play fast and loose with race clinics every Thursday from December through March ($45; stratton.com). —S.B.

SKI IN THE DARK
The starless night is pitch black, and your flame casts an aura a few feet in every direction. It's far from the security of daylight, but it's all you'll have on your journey down to the village. You push off, sans poles, torch held as far as possible from your face, jacket, fellow skiers. You hear a shout in the darkness. Did someone ski blindly off the trail? No wonder you've never done this before—it would never be legal in the United States. Scary? Yes. Exhilarating. Absolutely. So, where can you get in on it? Largely an overseas phenomenon, torchlight skiing blazes the slopes of Villars, Switzerland (villars.ch); is a weekly event in Portillo, Chile (skiportillo.com); illuminates the Gornergrat to the Riffelberg in Zermatt, Switzerland (zermatt.ch); and follows a gourmet dinner in Megeve, France (megeve.com). —S.B.

TAKE A SKI SAFARI
An Austrian Arlberg ski safari deserves a spot on any skier's life list. Our pick: The routes between the villages of St. Anton, St. Christoph, Lech, Stuben and Zurs, mixing challenges like the steep route off the back of the Rendl in with mild sightseeing cruisers. But most important, forget about mileage and head in for lunch at mountain restaurants such as Senn Hutte, feasting on roast pork and kasespaetzel and a couple glasses of that creamy Austrian white, Gruner Veltliner. It's not ski time lost, but rather a lesson in the art—and it is an art—of the European ski safari. Contact the Austria National Tourist Board for guides, austria-tourism.at.—Everett Potter

HAVE THE PLACE TO YOURSELF
Want to one-up your obnoxious neighbors for little Mikey's birthday party this year? Forget Chuck E. Cheese's. You can have an entire mountain to yourself at these ski-resorts-for-hire.
Lookout Pass, Idaho Board the lift in Idaho and ski down to Montana at this resort with 23 runs and four lifts. The mountain, as well as the 6,000-square-foot lodge, is for rent on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays, nonholiday, for $3,000. Live music, race courses and ski lessons can be arranged. 208-744-1301; skilookout.com
SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch, Colo. Fifteen miles north of Winter Park, SolVista boasts a not-so-measly 33 runs on 400 acres with five lifts, one a high-speed quad. The slopes can be yours for private nightskiing parties on weekdays for $10 per skier (based on 50—74 people). 800-618-7669; solvista.com —S.B.

POP THE QUESTION
Snow-capped peaks, candlelit dinners, hot tubs… . The mountains are as good a place as any to get engaged. Here's one way to do it: Bend, Ore., February 2003. "Good morning, this is your 7 a.m. Mount Bachelor Snow Report! The chipper voice detailed how much snow fell and the day's grooming conditions. Usually, it would stop there. But not that day: "And Shannon, Ted wants to know if you'll marry him. Callers wondered who Shannon and Ted are, but, more important, what her answer was! Luckily, the 10 a.m. snow report filled them in: "Shannon said yes. Looking to get down on one (insulated) knee? Some ideas we've heard include toting a ring along the Haute Route between Chamonix and Zermatt (downside: sharing a yurt on the first night as intendeds) and a proposal in the rose petal—filled copper soaking tub in the spa in the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch at Colorado's Beaver Creek. Roses and the Ritz. How could she say no? —R.O.[NEXT]SKI THE INTERCONNECT
Think you need to cross the pond to try a ski safari? Not so. The U.S. claims its own version of that European tradition in Utah's Wasatch mountains. The Utah Interconnect is a guided tour for advanced skiers that uses backcountry routes to connect five resorts—Deer Valley, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton and Alta—on mostly downhill terrain. Best, it's designed to be undertaken on your regular alpine gear, so drop the lame excuses about needing an alternate setup before you give it a go. $175 per person; 801-534-1907 —S.B.

SKI THE SAGEBRUSH
Skiing out West may conjure images of big mountains, vast blue skies and bottomless powder. But there's more to Cowboy Country than steeps and deeps. Expansive, rolling badlands fill the map between the Rockies and the Sierras, the Tetons and the Cascades. It's called sagebrush scrub, and tucked within those scraggy hills are local jewels that serve up modest turns for those in search of something a little different.
Cranor Ski Hill, Gunnison, Colo. Snow is blanketing southwestern Colo- rado's Gunnison Valley, but rather than flock to nearby Crested Butte, locals call the Parks and Recreation Department demanding to know, "Are you packing? They're not talking sidearms. They want to know if city employees are stomping the snow on Cranor Hill, the 305-vertical-foot municipal ski area a mile away from downtown. With a six-week season (early January to late February), a guaranteed 16-inch base, one J-bar and a $7 lift ticket ($3 for kids), Cranor is reason alone to keep your rock skis handy. myrecdept.com/co/Gunnison
Hogadon Ski Area, Casper, Wyo. Situated on Casper Mountain, 11 miles south of the town that shares its name, Hogadon spans 60 acres, relies on sn Hutte, feasting on roast pork and kasespaetzel and a couple glasses of that creamy Austrian white, Gruner Veltliner. It's not ski time lost, but rather a lesson in the art—and it is an art—of the European ski safari. Contact the Austria National Tourist Board for guides, austria-tourism.at.—Everett Potter

HAVE THE PLACE TO YOURSELF
Want to one-up your obnoxious neighbors for little Mikey's birthday party this year? Forget Chuck E. Cheese's. You can have an entire mountain to yourself at these ski-resorts-for-hire.
Lookout Pass, Idaho Board the lift in Idaho and ski down to Montana at this resort with 23 runs and four lifts. The mountain, as well as the 6,000-square-foot lodge, is for rent on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays, nonholiday, for $3,000. Live music, race courses and ski lessons can be arranged. 208-744-1301; skilookout.com
SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch, Colo. Fifteen miles north of Winter Park, SolVista boasts a not-so-measly 33 runs on 400 acres with five lifts, one a high-speed quad. The slopes can be yours for private nightskiing parties on weekdays for $10 per skier (based on 50—74 people). 800-618-7669; solvista.com —S.B.

POP THE QUESTION
Snow-capped peaks, candlelit dinners, hot tubs… . The mountains are as good a place as any to get engaged. Here's one way to do it: Bend, Ore., February 2003. "Good morning, this is your 7 a.m. Mount Bachelor Snow Report! The chipper voice detailed how much snow fell and the day's grooming conditions. Usually, it would stop there. But not that day: "And Shannon, Ted wants to know if you'll marry him. Callers wondered who Shannon and Ted are, but, more important, what her answer was! Luckily, the 10 a.m. snow report filled them in: "Shannon said yes. Looking to get down on one (insulated) knee? Some ideas we've heard include toting a ring along the Haute Route between Chamonix and Zermatt (downside: sharing a yurt on the first night as intendeds) and a proposal in the rose petal—filled copper soaking tub in the spa in the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch at Colorado's Beaver Creek. Roses and the Ritz. How could she say no? —R.O.[NEXT]SKI THE INTERCONNECT
Think you need to cross the pond to try a ski safari? Not so. The U.S. claims its own version of that European tradition in Utah's Wasatch mountains. The Utah Interconnect is a guided tour for advanced skiers that uses backcountry routes to connect five resorts—Deer Valley, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton and Alta—on mostly downhill terrain. Best, it's designed to be undertaken on your regular alpine gear, so drop the lame excuses about needing an alternate setup before you give it a go. $175 per person; 801-534-1907 —S.B.

SKI THE SAGEBRUSH
Skiing out West may conjure images of big mountains, vast blue skies and bottomless powder. But there's more to Cowboy Country than steeps and deeps. Expansive, rolling badlands fill the map between the Rockies and the Sierras, the Tetons and the Cascades. It's called sagebrush scrub, and tucked within those scraggy hills are local jewels that serve up modest turns for those in search of something a little different.
Cranor Ski Hill, Gunnison, Colo. Snow is blanketing southwestern Colo- rado's Gunnison Valley, but rather than flock to nearby Crested Butte, locals call the Parks and Recreation Department demanding to know, "Are you packing? They're not talking sidearms. They want to know if city employees are stomping the snow on Cranor Hill, the 305-vertical-foot municipal ski area a mile away from downtown. With a six-week season (early January to late February), a guaranteed 16-inch base, one J-bar and a $7 lift ticket ($3 for kids), Cranor is reason alone to keep your rock skis handy. myrecdept.com/co/Gunnison
Hogadon Ski Area, Casper, Wyo. Situated on Casper Mountain, 11 miles south of the town that shares its name, Hogadon spans 60 acres, relies on state-of-the-art snowmaking, and goes so far as to promise that if you arrive Wednesday through Friday, you'll have the place to yourself. casperwy.gov/content/leisure/hogadon/hogadon.asp
Homewood Mountain Resort, Homewood, Calif. On Tahoe's western shore, sandwiched between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, Homewood is often overlooked, but the little area's $15 Friday tickets and $35 weekend tickets, along with great snow, treeskiing, unique scenery and empty slopes, make you reconsider—then wonder why you didn't do so earlier. skihomewood.com —R.O.

STAR IN YOUR OWN SKI FILM
Think those guys in the Warren Miller films have it easy? Find out for yourself: Mountain Leap Events, a British ski-tour company, specializes in crafting unusual ski experiences, and giving you the chance to star in your own ski flick is one of them. Enlisting the directorial expertise of veteran ski-film stuntman and cameraman John Falkiner, the company customizes a trip to each client at the European resort of his or her choice and will also arrange lodging, guides, dining and other activities. But like the terrain you'll be skiing, the price is steep: typically $3,500 for one day of shooting. Yet, when all is said and done, you'll have a polished, edited testament to your skiing excellence—with a kickin' soundtrack—to document, once and for all, those skills you've been bragging about for years. 011-44-207-193-2128; mountainleapevents.com —S.B.

JANUARY 2006on state-of-the-art snowmaking, and goes so far as to promise that if you arrive Wednesday through Friday, you'll have the place to yourself. casperwy.gov/content/leisure/hogadon/hogadon.asp
Homewood Mountain Resort, Homewood, Calif. On Tahoe's western shore, sandwiched between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, Homewood is often overlooked, but the little area's $15 Friday tickets and $35 weekend tickets, along with great snow, treeskiing, unique scenery and empty slopes, make you reconsider—then wonder why you didn't do so earlier. skihomewood.com —R.O.

STAR IN YOUR OWN SKI FILM
Think those guys in the Warren Miller films have it easy? Find out for yourself: Mountain Leap Events, a British ski-tour company, specializes in crafting unusual ski experiences, and giving you the chance to star in your own ski flick is one of them. Enlisting the directorial expertise of veteran ski-film stuntman and cameraman John Falkiner, the company customizes a trip to each client at the European resort of his or her choice and will also arrange lodging, guides, dining and other activities. But like the terrain you'll be skiing, the price is steep: typically $3,500 for one day of shooting. Yet, when all is said and done, you'll have a polished, edited testament to your skiing excellence—with a kickin' soundtrack—to document, once and for all, those skills you've been bragging about for years. 011-44-207-193-2128; mountainleapevents.com —S.B.

JANUARY 2006

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