What are your picks for the best ski runs? Mountain renegade Aaron Bible shares his list for the best in the West and beyond.
words by Aaron Bible
We know, we know, you’ve heard that before. But have you site verified them for yourself? We did just that to bring you our 2017-18 ski season best of where you need to go this winter. It’s simple math… every true ski bum has to check these off the list in their lifetime, why not start now?
Purgatory, Colorado Still the darling of the valley, Purgatory will never lose its charm. Locals say the steep and well-spaced McCormack’s Maze glades have a side-country feel that keeps them stoked, even on busy weekends.
Telluride, Colorado The best thing about skiing at Telluride is just the fact that you are skiing in Telluride: one of the sickest, most beautiful, interesting, authentic and laid back mountains in the world. The fact that the gondola is part of the town’s official public transportation system speaks volumes. Go find Revelation Bowl for what most consider some of the best in the state when the snow is right.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming Narrowing this down to just one run in the Tetons is a joke, we get that. But if you had to ski just one, forever, what would it be? The answer is South Hoback – the longest, most sustained, top to bottom run on Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, our perfect pow day of 2,200 vert with some of the most massive, expansive views in the Lower 48.
Powder stash: Book a day with Purgatory Snowcat Adventures for access to the biggest guided cat skiing permit area in the country. Mega freshies at every drop and it keeps getting better as the day goes on. Bring extra everything so you can switch out for dry stuff.
Silverton Mountain, Colorado If you’ve never been to this remote “resort” that borders the Uncompahgre Wilderness to the north and the Weminuche Wilderness to the south, start with Tiger, a bowl below the lift that follows a creek bed all the way down to the road, where you catch the bus back to the base. Not too scared yet? Embark on the 45-minute hike to Rope Dee Dope – a set of numbered chutes near the top of Billboard peak, yielding a nearly 2,800 vertical descent.
Killington (Yep, that’s Vermont) Think East Coast skiing can’t be hardcore? Go ski Outer Limits on 205s on ice and get back to us. Just ask anyone who grew up back there, this is the ultimate East Coast mogul run that will test your mettle.
Verbier (uh, as in Switzerland, brah) With a motto of “Pure Energy” you can imagine that, as a hardcore destination skier, you’re going to want to head to Verbier, Switzerland, as soon as the snowpack sets up this spring. Believe me, this place makes Jackson Hole look like Breckenridge, and ski bums here regularly paraglide in the morning and ski-mountaineer in the afternoons. It’s hardcore. Mere mortals should take the gondola to the top of Mt. Gelé, specifically the northwest face, where we melted our own faces twice last year.
Wolf Creek, Colorado Wolf Creek is our pick for the best kept secret in Colorado. With the most snow in the state the Creek is perched on the crest of Continental Divide, and that top-of-the-world feeling you get is enhanced by the unfolding terrain. Explore the Waterfall area, the Dog Chutes and Montezuma Bowl just to get started. The entire mountain has hidden treasures, but when the snow is good, and it usually is, be sure to catch the Snowcat to the Horseshoe Bowl and make your way down Kieth’s Glade. You’ll thank us later.
Taos, New Mexico See for yourself, this mountain is amazing. You just left the desert but you’ll think you’re in the middle of the Rockies – because you are. The Sangre de Cristo Range is the real deal, and this mountain is steeper and deeper than many of its neighbors to the north. Plus, the green chile alone is worth the trip. B-line toward Kachina Peak, and on your second lap scoot down a bit and pick a chute near Cabin. Or stay put on Lift 2, buy a shirt from Ski Patrol at Headquarters and head out West Basin Ridge and drop in.