No Mountain? No Problem

From the Top
No Mountain? No Problem

Few people are aware of this, but there's some pretty good skiing to be had in Princeton, N.J. Actually, it's not that great, but at the time—I was maybe 10—it seemed OK to me. We'd had one of those snowstorms all kids dream about, the kind that closes the schools, keeps traffic off the roads and fosters the impression that, just for one day, the child-oppressing norms of society have been suspended. Want to play in the street? Go ahead. Dive headlong into piles of snow? Have at it. Pelt the dorky neighbor kid with snowballs? Wear your mittens, dear. I did all these things, of course. Then I decided I was going to go skiing. That there wasn't an actual ski area in town never entered my thinking.

I rallied my friend Andrew, we ferreted our equipment out of our respective garages, then set out for the local sledding hill—a vast lawn that fell away gently from the base of one of Princeton University's many hulking Gothic buildings. After gearing up, we took to the broad, snowy slope. This was my first attempt at skiing ungroomed snow, and I learned a few things—most notably that a 15-degree pitch entombed under two feet of wet New Jersey "powder" is pretty much unskiable. We poled furiously to gain momentum. And stood dead still. This was no fun.

Halfway through the long trudge home, salvation presented itself in the form of a parking lot, recently plowed and ringed with the tallest snowbanks either of us had ever seen—huge, towering mountains of snow. Five minutes later, we'd fashioned a small jump at the base of the tallest and were merrily sailing down the side, squeezing in a jump-turn or two before catching a full eight inches of hard-won air. It took us maybe an hour to metabolize the remains of our morning hot chocolate and head for home—tired, glowing and plotting our next adventure on snow.

That's one of the great things about skiing: The size—and location—of the hill isn't necessarily directly proportional to the size of the thrill. In this issue, we visit big mountains out West—Breckenridge (Click below) and Crested Butte, Colo. (Click below)—and small ones back East—Jiminy Peak, Mass. (Click "Many Happy Returns" below). We also travel up north—five little-known areas in British Columbia (Click "The Great White Hope" below)—and down south—North Carolina's Beech and Sugar mountains (Click "Southern Fried Skiing" below). You can have a blast skiing any of these resorts—or anywhere else you might happen to find yourself. You may need to work at it—and if you're a 10-year-old boy with more energy than sense, you may need to ask your folks for new skis after scraping the bottoms off yours in a parking lot—but hey, turns are turns.

Enjoy the issue.