Time to hit the slopes

By Kim O’Hare

With Ski destinations across Europe getting off to a week start due to a lack of snow many people in search of the perfect skiing holiday set off for North America and for the most part they have not been disappointed.

One of the most popular destinations is Whistler-Blackcomb in the Canadian Rockies.  With the 2010 Winter Olympics planned for the Whistler-Blackcomb region many people are visiting the area to get a sneak preview of the mountains.  One of the difficulties in planning a ski vacation is uncertainty over conditions, but the Whistler area is usually a pretty safe bet, this year it has had excellent conditions with the season starting several weeks earlier and prime conditions expected to last into late April.  Average snowfall at the summit is about 10 metres! In fact there is year round skiing on many of the 200+ runs in the Whistler Blackcomb area.  With 1609 metres vertical, and 38 lifts including several high speed quads and gondolas there is no doubt that Whistler Blackcomb provides some of the best skiing in the world. There is accommodation to suit every taste and budget. http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/index.htm

UAEasy.com pictureWhistler Blackcomb is just one of more than a dozen world class ski resports in British Columbia, Canada’s most westerly province. The second largest ski area in BC family-friendly and dependably sunny.  Sun Peaks Resort consists of a charming, ski-in/ski-out alpine village surrounded by three exceptional mountains. Tod offers open bowls and challenging terrain; Sundance is noted for its groomed runs, terrain parks and half-pipe plus ski-school learning area; while Mt. Morrisey thrills with open glades, cruising-style runs and black-diamond steeps. Sun Peaks Resort is a 4.5-hour drive from Vancouver, air shiuttle is available. The Vertical is just under 900 metres and there are 121 runs served by 12 lifts. The area receives about 5.6 metres of snow. http://www.sunpeaksresort.com/Winter/default.aspx
Big White Ski Resort is a family-friendly alpine village located in BC’s sunny Thompson Okanagan region. Big White offers an extraordinary mountain experience complemented by outstanding restaurants as well as a full selection of accommodations suited to all budgets. http://www.bigwhite.com/

Plentiful ski-in/ski-out lodging, great après-ski activities, small crowds and a charming alpine village make Panorama Mountain Village Resort an ideal destination for a ski vacation. Panorama’s 120 runs and snow-covered 1,152 ha (2,847 ac) challenge skiers of all abilities. The terrain runs the gamut from dazzling, former heli-skiing terrain for experts seeking the thrills of glades, chutes and gullies to super-long, cruising runs for intermediates to gently groomed slopes that appeal to even the most novice of skiers. http://www.panoramaresort.com/index.htm

If you don’t want to spend your entire holiday on the slopes Grouse mountain within the city of Vancouver could be the answer. With 25 great runs to choose from and excellent conditions, you’ll discover a mountaintop winter paradise - perfect for every member of your family. Whether you’re snowboarding or skiing for the first time, or already a master of the mountains, we have an endless variety of terrain for you to explore. Because of Grouse’s location it can get busy, especially on weekends. http://www.grousemountain.com/welcome.cfm

The American Rockies also boast some outstanding ski resorts. Utah, known as the home of the Mormons is also home to some of the best skiing in the western US.

UAEasy.com pictureVerticals typically are in the range of 2,000 feet, or about 650 metres. Alta and pure, unspoiled skiing are synonymous. Alta’s variety of terrain, breathtaking alpine scenery and superb snow conditions combine to create a unique setting for unforgettable skiing experiences with family and friends. Ata is Consistently Rated #1 in Snow Quality because of the quality and quantity of dry,light snow that falls. Powderhounds choose to ski Alta for the experience this unique snow provides. Beginners and intermediates will find the snow surface soft after the groomong cats work their magic at night. Alta continues to offer a ski-only experience. http://www.alta.com/

Nestled at the base of 12,000-foot Mt. Timpanogos, Sundance is a 5,000-acre community destination resort, dedicated to maintaining the balance of art, nature and community. Created by Robert Redford, Sundance is a haven for discovery and inspiration. Sundance, listed in the 2006 Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List and as a top 10 resort by Conde Nast Traveler’s 2005 Readers’ Choice Awards, offers diverse mountain recreation experiences year round. Ski, snowboard or enjoy cross country skiing in winter. Bike and hike during summer amidst breathtaking scenery. http://www.sundanceresort.com/

Moving on to Colorado Aspen is probably one of the best known resorts in the American West. Aspen Mountain, a vertical smorgasbord of double-black and tree runs for skier and snowboarders, rises 3,267 feet from the heart of downtown Aspen. Opened in 1947, Aspen Mountain’s steeps, bumps and incredible views have been famous for decades.

UAEasy.com pictureColorado offers three mountains of glades, bumps and long groomers or access the new Independence Bowl expert expansion via snowcat. Plus when the sun sets you don’t have to as the mountain goes on with sunset skiing on Dercum Mountain and in the Top 10 rated A51 terrain park until 9 p.m. The fun continues off the mountain in Keystone’s two villages. River Run Village is full of dining and nightlife or enjoy ice skating and more in Lakeside Village. Visit http://www.keystoneresort.com for details.

Squaw Valley opened in 1949 with one chair lift, a rope tow, and a lodge. Today, Squaw Valley USA is one of the world’s premier destination resorts with year-round recreation and first-class accommodations. The site of the VIII Winter Olympic Games in 1960, Squaw Valley USA is Lake Tahoe’s premier ski resort. Thirty-four lifts, and an aerial Cable Car, access 6 peaks, 2,850 vertical feet of fun and excitement and 4,000 acres of terrain for all tastes and abilities. Squaw Valley is one of several resorts located in the Lake Tahoe area which straddles the California Nevada border. Regular shuttle services operated link most California and Nevada cities to most of the ski areas. http://www.squaw.com.

So with global climate change posing a threat to European skiing, it might be time to venture further a field. From the slopes of Lake Tahoe in the south to the Canadian Rockies, there’s plenty of good skiing to be had. 

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