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From the Top

We were about four and a half hours into what would

turn out to be a seven-hour automotive catastrophe driving from New York City to Waterville Valley, N.H., when I turned to my wife and said, "You know, we could have been in Utah by now." She chuckled. And then we started thinking about it. My statement-an off-the-cuff expression of frustration with rush-hour traffic on the West Side Highway and, later, blowing, drifting snow on I-91-may not have been entirely true, but it wasn't far off. Two hours to get to the airport and check in, four hours on the plane, 45 minutes on a shuttle to a ski resort and voila`-Wasatch powder instead of the same old slopes.

Not long after that thought-provoking excursion-a typical ski weekend for us at the time-my wife and I did take a trip to Utah. We grabbed an early morning flight to Salt Lake City, hopped the van to Alta and pulled up to the Rustler Lodge in time for lunch and a few afternoon runs. No muss, little fuss.

The highlight of this particular vacation came on the third day. It had snowed in Little Cottonwood Canyon pretty much straight through since we'd arrived, and we were out on the hill having a blast as we came to grips with what amounted to more powder than either of us had ever seen in one place at one time. After cresting a knoll, I stopped on the far side and waited for my wife to catch up. And waited some more. Finally, I hiked back up the knoll, where I spotted my wife.

Actually, that's inaccurate. What I spotted was her red ski hat-the only part of her then visible above the surface of the snow-flopping wildly as she struggled, amid paroxysms of incredulous laughter, to right herself after a spill in the deep. "This is unbelievable," she exclaimed as I helped her dig herself out. "Why didn't we do this sooner?"

You may ask yourself the same question after reading this month's cover package, "Ultimate 72-Hour Escapes" (page 104). You don't need to live in the Rockies, Tetons or Sierras to enjoy the best our sport has to offer-and you don't need a lot of time. All it takes is a little imagination, maybe a personal day out of the office and a sound strategy. We've got you covered there. From tips on traveling light to sample flight schedules to day-by-day on-mountain itineraries at six of North America's finest destinations, we've put together the info and ideas you need to make next weekend the best ski weekend of the season. Of course, as far as we're concerned, any ski weekend is a good one. But wouldn't it be nice to leave the traffic jams to someone else for a change?

Enjoy the issue.