You didn’t really think we’d leave you hanging like that, did you? Of course not! To recap, check out the first half of this guide, which features Alta, Snowbird, Jackson Hole, Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows. This means There are still three resorts to cover, ensuring that you have all of the insider information in one place, making the most of your Mountain Collective experience!
The Locals: Kimmy Fasani, professional snowboarder and Mammoth local. John Urdi, executive director of Mammoth Lakes Tourism and local skier.
You’re in a hurry to hit the slopes, so stop by Stellar Brew for a grab-n-go breakfast. With a great variety of healthy breakfast burritos and top-notch selections of drinks, Stellar Brew is a locally sourced gem (and they open at 5:30 a.m.).
To warm up for a full day of skiing, there are a couple of tricks. Stretch. Do a couple of lunges. Then head up to Dave’s Run off the top of the mountain. It’s long, wide open and has a great view, perfect for starting your day off with a few leg burner runs. Now that your legs are warmed up, take the gondola to the top of the Sierra and follow Upper Road Runner to Road Runner to Lower Road Runner, which will take you on a tour around the mountain and back down to the base.
If stretching takes too much time, be the first in line for Chair 22 and head for the Avi (Avalanche) Chutes. Don’t worry—the mountain ops folks take care of the mitigation. Heading over to Chair 23 to hit The Paranoids is also an excellent powder day option.
Stop for lunch at The Green V in Main Lodge, which features gluten-free vegan offerings including some juice recipes from Olympic Marathoner and Mammoth resident Deena Kastor.
Après and After
Roberto’s Mexican food restaurant offers a great upstairs hangout, bar area and a full menu. This Mexican casita with a mountain flair offers a great happy hour from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. with free nachos and quesadillas; it’s the perfect spot to unwind and recap (brag) about your day on the hill.
The Mammoth Mountain app (available for Android and iOS) will make your Mammoth experience a breeze to navigate with trail maps, a GPS locater to find friends, and tracking options that compile your runs, speed, vertical feet and more.
Since you rode hard yesterday, take a bit more time for breakfast this morning and head to Good Life Café. The “Eye Opener” is a must-try: grilled Mahi Mahi Cajun style, two eggs, brown rice and corn tortillas with a lemon and white sauce. If you’re raring to go and only have time for coffee, stop by Mimi’s Cookie Bar, a recent addition to Mammoth, which offers delicious coffee, a wonderful array of sweet treats; its also an Organic and all-natural bakery. Added bonus: Mimi’s offers vegan and gluten free options.
Another powder day. Take a few turns on Chair 5, which gets you to the top of some of the best powder riding and/or groomers on the mountain. Smack in the middle of the mountain, this chair makes it easy to get plenty of laps in on a variety of different terrain. Sunshine Glades, Grizzly and Shaft off of Chair 22 are also great locations to head for on a powder day—it’s some of the best tree skiing in the Sierra.
Intermediate to advanced skiers will want to jump on the Gondola to Climax and Cornice bowls to check out the rewards there. Then head to Stump Alley to work up an appetite. Which you’ll continue working up as you track down The Little Mill, a snowcat-powered version of The Mill. This tasty transport roves the mountain serving up the same finger-licking BBQ as the original Mill. You can scout its location on the Mammoth app.
Après and After
For today’s après ski experience, make your way to Gomez’s at The Village at Mammoth for great food and even better drinks. On the last Thursday of each month they host a Tequila Tasting and, with more than 400 varieties behind the bar, it’s always a good time.
If you’re feeling peckish, you can’t go wrong with any dish at Petra’s Bistro across from the Village. Be sure to order the roasted beet salad with pistachios and the pan-seared Mahi-Mahi with green lentils.
If you’re looking to revive after a long day on the slopes, head to the hot springs off Benton Creek Road for a nice soak in the natural pools or consider visiting Snowcreek Athletic Club for a mellow yoga class.
Local: Mike Douglas, pro skier and Whistler local. Mike Bruce, Vancouver local.
If you’re in a hurry, head to the Lift for a coffee and sausage roll. If you have a bit more time, try the Gone Bakery, a tiny kitchen with a small dining room behind Armchair Books in Village Square, for a coffee and breakfast.
Not that you have to stay on one mountain, but start on Blackcomb if the weather is good. Head over to Xhiggy’s Meadow for fresh snow—it’s a bit of trek but you will be rewarded in the end. Secret Bowl (which, since it’s clearly listed on the map, is not such a secret) can also harbor some great snow as the wind tends to blow powder through here—stay close to the rocks and you can find some nice turns.
Be sure to check out Blackcomb Glacier, which is located to skiers right on the mountain. The glacier offers a European-style ski experience in North America that you can’t find anywhere else. An in-bounds backcountry experience, you really feel as if you’re in the middle of nowhere. At the bottom of the glacier is the new Crystal Ridge Express Chair—be sure to stop in for a waffle at the Crystal Hut.
Ride the peak-to-peak gondola between the mountains. It’s the biggest—and highest—lift of its kind in the world and a must-do for anyone who skis Whistler.
Après and After
After skiing Blackcomb it’s imperative that you go to Merlin’s. This world-famous ski bar is known for its sky-high nachos and the crazy antics performed by locals and visitors alike.
If silence is golden, then the Scandinave Spa would make Midas jealous. Head out to this high-end oasis of calm situated in a peaceful spruce and cedar forest on the edge of Lost Lake. Located about two minutes from Whistler Village, you can soak in hot tubs, refresh with waterfalls or relax in Finnish saunas or steam rooms.
If the evening brought fresh powder, the only option is Fresh Tracks Breakfast on Whistler Mountain. As the name suggests, you get a buffet breakfast to power up and first tracks on the mountain.
Today is the day to concentrate on Whistler Mountain. Make friends on the chairlift and suss out the location of Christmas Trees—it’s not on the map, but locals can point you in the right direction and it’s a great area on a powder day.
The ridges and bowls accessed by the Harmony and Symphony lifts have not only some great groomers, but also terrain that invites off-piste exploration. The Saddle run from the top of the Harmony Express lift is a favorite, as is Highway 86 path, which edges West Bowl from the Peak to Creek trail and has gorgeous views.
Take the Peak to Creek runoff as your last run of the day. A legendary run in with the longest uninterrupted fall-line, this 4.6 mile run will put you at the bottom of the Creekside lift and Dusty’s, a local watering hole serving world-famous barbeque and plenty of beer. It’s first come, first served so get there before your 200 closest friends do.
Après and After
In the Village, the Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC) or the Longhorn is your best bet for après. The GLC is perfectly situated above the gondola building and the patio offers a front row seat to watch the last skiers fly (or fall) into the base area. or the Longhorn. For a cultural experience, head to Sushi Village—not only is the food spectacular, but its patrons are the who’s who in the ski/snowboard world. More legendary parties have started there than anywhere else in Whistler. For a more low key (read, cheap) meal, head to El Furniture Warehouse, which, contrary to its name, serves food and not furniture. With the entire menu set at $4.95 and plenty of local beer on tap, this place attracts ski bums and visitors alike.
Check out the local newspaper to see the most up-to-date deals, specials and happenings. In Whistler, Pique Newsmagazine is your guide for live music, après deals and more.
The Locals: Sally Spaulding, PR Director, Aspen Skiing Company. Kara Williams, Carbondale local and freelance writer. Lindsay Gillon, Snowmass resident and snow goddess.
Day One: Aspen and Aspen Highlands
If carbs are what you’re craving, head to Poppycock’s for a plate of their famous pancakes—the macadamia nut comes highly recommended. For out-of-the-ordinary fare, try Peach’s Corner Café and order the quinoa bowl, but be prepared as there’s often a line. If you’re itching to get up on the mountain post-haste, grab oatmeal pancakes at Bonnie’s, located mid-mountain on Aspen Mountain.
If the snow gods are smiling and there’s fresh powder, sign up for first tracks. Free with your lift ticket, just call the night before to save your spot and you’ll be treated to freshies on Aspen Mountain.
Another option to beat the pack lined up at the gondola on a powder day is by accessing Lift A1, the Shadow Mountain lift on “the other side” of Aspen Mountain. The Shadow Mountain lift accesses a variety of terrain, gets you quickly to The Dumps on a powder morning, and lets you carve turns where the World Cup races are held each year. While all of the mine dumps are worthy stashes, the Cone Dump is a favorite. In the glades, make the pilgrimage to “the shrines,” where Elvis, Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix and other legends are immortalized in the trees between runs.
If you can time it right, be sure to stay mid-week. Wednesdays are Guest Appreciation Day where you can a park without penalty (free parking) and get a free tour of Highlands Bowl while munching on free mini muffins and free hot dogs at the base of Temerity lift. Then, since you saved all that money, track down the Oasis pop-up bar: champagne and caviar served out of a snow cat. Don’t be surprised—it is Aspen, after all.
Après and After
Aspen’s longest happy hour (3 p.m. – 7 p.m.) is at The Limelight Lounge, featuring hand-tossed pizzas, drinks on special and live music. Be sure to check and see if the Lounge is offering a Beer Dinner: three courses paired with special craft beers for only $40—it’s a screaming deal for Aspen. Other great deals can be found by perusing the bar menu at Aspen’s ritziest restaurants like Jimmy’s, Cache Cache or Piñion’s— first come, first served, so get there early.
For live music, there’s no other venue like the Belly Up. Every genre of music is played here with one common denominator—it’s always a good show. Eric’s is always a good bet for late night, as is the J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome.
Day Two: Buttermilk and Snowmass
Did you miss first tracks on Aspen Mountain? Not to worry—the deal is good for Snowmass Mountain, too. Just call ahead to reserve your spot. On the way over, stop at Victoria’s Espresso for a perfectly crafted latte or Main Street Bakery if you want to linger over blueberry pancakes or homemade bagels. You’ll be sure to meet some new friends as the seating can be “family-style” when crowded.
At Snowmass, be sure to check into a Green Cabin run or see Naked Lady (if only to say you did. Be sure to check out the runs off of Elk Camp, as well as Sneaky’s and Whispering Jesse. For park rats, Little Makaha and Lowdown are great for jibbing. Looking for some corduroy? Finding the Noon Groom will make up for any lost tracks you might have missed due to a late night out. Stop for lunch at Lynn Britt Cabin and save room for the famed pizza oven-baked cookies at Up For Pizza at the top if you make a Poma ride/lap of the Cirque.
On Buttermilk, be sure to check out the XGames terrain and make plans for your debut next year. To get the lay of the land, show up for a free ambassador tour at 10:30 a.m. reap the benefits of having your own personal ski guide—they know all the best places to find secret snow. But don’t be fooled by Buttermilk’s laid-back front-side terrain: Tiehack is the “steeper” side of Buttermilk with long, rolling double fall line runs like Javelin and Racer’s Edge. If you hear a ululating sound while riding the Tiehack lift, don’t be alarmed—it’s just 93-year old Klaus Obermeyer, who tends to yodel when incredibly happy.
Après and After
At the end of the day, check out the après scene at the New Belgium brewery bar in Snowmass Mall for homemade pretzels, six different dipping sauces and plenty of beer in addition to Fat Tire.
If you’re headed back into town, Justice Snow’s, located at the Wheeler Opera House, is the hottest ticket in town with creative, hand-crafted cocktails and big ol’ punchbowls to share. If the mustachioed bartenders in period dress aren’t enough, it’s also home to Aspen’s only absinthe fountain.
For one of the best dinner deals in town, head to the Ajax Tavern. This perennial Aspen hot spot at the base of the mountain can be pricey, but order the burger and pint special and for $15 you’ll get the restaurant’s famous grass-fed beef burger with American cheese, onion aioli, frites and a pint of beery goodness. Splurge and upgrade your frites to the truffle variety.
Have any more tips after reading Part 1 and Part 2 of Living Like a Local with the Mountain Collective Pass? Share them in the comments below!
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