Snow. We skiers and boarders can never get enough of it. We spend Autumn (if we live in the northern hemisphere) waiting for it to arrive. Then, after the initial thrill of those first falls, each pre-season we want more—always more.
Not just any old snow either. I mean, when we’re desperate, any old snow will do. But, given the choice, we’d like several feet of light, fluffy powder that’s weightless on our skis or board and perfect to carve through.
Of course, too much snow can bring its problems: access roads may be closed, lifts buried if it’s too abundant, and there’s the increasing avalanche danger of course. But if we’re careful, we can put up with all of that so long as we get our own personal fix when we want it. Despite our attempts to control the mountains with ever-more snowmaking technology, what we really want is the fresh natural stuff from the sky.
There are some resorts around the world where you can increase your odds of having a snowy winter. Some ski areas, without fail, receive so much snowfall almost every ski season so your chances of finding an abundance of fresh powder are far higher than the average. The numbers are always changing, but here’s this skier’s opinion of the top 10 snowiest ski resorts in the world:
At the top of the snow charts is Mt. Baker in Washington State, North Western USA. Mt. Baker consistently gets more snow than any other ski area on the planet at around 19 meters. When the snow falls, Mt. Baker usually outstrips its neighbours.
In second place, just across the Pacific and perhaps internationally a little better known in the past ten years, is Niseko on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Although its snow depth averages 17 meters per annum, slightly less than Mt Baker, it is world renowned for the lightness of its powder. Warm winds travel thousands of miles overland across Asia, scooping moisture out of the Sea of Japan, and dumping down an abundance of snow on Niseko—sometimes for weeks on end.
If you’re looking for deep snow and cold temperatures that stick around for a longer period of time, Alyeska in Alaska is usually a safe bet. Receiving around 16 metres, Alyeska comes in at third place.
Meanwhile, Alta in Utah, with a 15.6 meter average, takes fourth with its Niseko-like reputation for an abundance of seemingly-weightless powder, brought to the area for similar reasons (the drying effect of the air currents as they cross western North America before reaching its mountains).
Still in North America, but north of the border, is Revelstoke. This ski resort does not only house the continent’s biggest lift-served vertical drop, but also claims Canada’s greatest average annual snowfall at 15 metres. In fact, Revelstoke is still so new that it hasn’t quite had the chance to build up a full average over a period of decades.
In sixth place is Gulmarg in India where official accurate snowfall figures are as hard to come by as a reliable avalanche report. However, it’s universally regarded as very, very snowy in this bit of the Himalayas with an average snowfall around 14.5 metres.
Nozawa Onsen, another of Japan’s best known ski areas that’s known for the snow monkeys that bathe in the hot springs, comes in seventh with 14.4 metres.
The number of resorts in the average 12-13 meter snowfall bracket begins to take off, with about 20 contenders. A number of US resorts claim a 500+ inch average, which equates to around 12.7 metres. Among them are: Brighton (Utah), Powder Mountain (Utah), Snowbird (Utah), Solitude (Utah), Grand Targhee (Wyoming), and Sugar Bowl (California). Brighton might be edging up to claim 9th as it shored over 700 inches (17.8 metres) in the 2012-13 winter season, boosting its average up. However, tenth place must be graciously shared between the five other contenders.
Do you have a different opinion? Or maybe we missed one. Let us know in the comments below for a chance to win Liftopia shwag!