Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of 3 in our Skier’s Bucket List. We continue with our North American list, you can find Part 1 here.
Ride the Single Chairlift at Mad River Glen
In today’s era of ski-resort corporate consolidation, Mad River Glen in Vermont is unusual to say the least. The member-owned cooperative treasures skiing tradition perhaps like no typical corporation could. For example, it still does not allow snowboarding. A famous single-rider chairlift serves as the ski area’s symbol of its dedication to tradition.
Originally built in 1947, the lift was saved in 2006 when shareholders voted overwhelmingly to spend an extra $300,000 to rebuild the chair, rather than replace it with a brand-new double chairlift. Reopened in 2007, the updated lift is much safer, but still looks basically the same as the original.
Make the Trek to Mount Bohemia
A Midwest ski destination on a bucket list might seem a little odd, but Mount Bohemia in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is no average little Midwestern ski hill. The vertical drop may be just 900 feet, but every trail is labeled by one or more black diamonds. Supercharged by moisture from Lake Superior, the average annual snowfall of 273 inches puts it in the ballpark of many Colorado resorts.
Some serious effort is required to reach Mount Bohemia’s remote location. Major airport hubs such as Minneapolis and Chicago are both about 7 hours away by car. Not surprisingly given its isolated locale, Mount Bohemia has its own distinctive culture. Just check out the quirky reality show shot there for a taste of the local scene.
Hit “The Beach” at A-Basin in June
Arapahoe Basin sits along the Continental Divide in Colorado, so the high elevation means the ski area can stay open often into June. During the late-season, an area of the parking lot, known as “The Beach,” turns into a tailgate party scene. The ski area even takes reservations to rent about 15 prime spots. Each parking place has room for two vehicles and includes a picnic table.
Ski Vail’s Back Bowls
The Back Bowls at Vail Mountain in Colorado may be the most famous section of terrain in North American skiing. Lots of people who have never even been on skis or a snowboard have heard of the Back Bowls at Vail. Unlike Corbet’s Couloir (see Bucket List Part 1), the Back Bowls do not require a super-expert ability level, because most of the terrain is rated as a single black diamond. The less well-known back bowls at Copper Mountain down the highway are actually much steeper overall.
Stretching more than six miles across, the Back Bowls may not be extreme for the most part, but the vast open terrain is lots of fun on a powder day. Plus, given the Back Bowls’ fame, the experience is pretty much a required checklist qualification for any serious skier or boarder’s resume.
Hike to Alta’s Baldy Chutes
The Baldy Chutes at Alta Ski Area in Utah are tantalizingly visible to the right riding up the Collins Lift. However, the chutes are accessed by a 25-40 minute hike up the backside from the top of the Sugarloaf Lift. Main Chute, the “easiest” of the three primary lines, is about 30-feet wide with around a 40-degree pitch. Little Chute and Dog Leg Chute are much more technical with even more serious consequences in the event of an uncontrolled fall.
While at Alta, also ski Alf’s High Rustler, a classic bump run just above the base area that could merit its own bucket-list status. Like quite a few runs at Alta, just getting there is more than half the battle. Finding the entrance to High Rustler requires a long, sometimes quite tricky, traverse.
Travel Canada’s Powder Highway
Interior British Columbia has a reputation for tons of powder. Considering that the region’s major ski resorts are located basically in a loop, the “Powder Highway” was coined to market the idea of a bucket-list worthy road trip. A journey including Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Panorama, Kimberley, Fernie, Red Mountain and Whitewater would add up to about 630 miles.
Attend Whistler’s World Ski and Snowboard Festival
The somewhat isolated ski areas along the Powder Highway are known more for actual skiing and boarding, rather than apres-ski. On the other hand, Whistler Blackcomb is famous for both its skiing and its party scene. The British Columbia resort close to the Pacific coast hosted numerous events at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
While the Olympics are long gone, Whistler still hosts a huge annual springtime event, the World Ski and Snowboard Festival. Along with lots of skiing and boarding of course, the six days of revelry include concerts and art events. One signature artistic competition involves filmmakers creating a short movie from start to final edit in just 72 hours.
Heli-ski in Alaska
Saving the best for last, heli-skiing in Alaska is sort of the Holy Grail bucket-list idea for skiers and boarders. Scores of ski movies with scenes shot in the 49th state have obviously whetted their appetite for this dream experience. Start saving because the cost of a heli-skiing week can run well into five figures.
Once you’ve gone all the way to Alaska, you’ll also want to try some resort skiing at Alyeska. The unique resort starts almost down at sea level, but still receives more than 600 inches of snow annually.
Stay tuned for Part 3 – Across the globe!