In The Spotlight
Whenever favorite stashes get carved up, or the maddening crowds threaten your first tracks, it may be time to shell out the bucks for a helicopter ride deep into Powder Country in the West.
Longtime heli-skiers and ‘boarders can rattle off the famous rock-star locales: Banff and The Bugaboos in B.C., Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah, Valdez in Alaska, and the San Juans in Colorado.
But there are others, a bit less renowned but all in the midst of mammoth powder bowls, glades and chutes. SnoCountry.com took a look a bit deeper into the heli-skiing world and came up with a few more options:
High Mountain Heli-Skiing works out of Jackson Hole and flies into the Tetons. Groups of five with a guide get 6-7 trips a day for 12,000-15,000 feet of vert in 305,000 acres of advanced to expert bowls, chutes and glades. Stay on Jackson Hole side or over divide at spa near Victor, Idaho.
Diamond Peaks is a mom-and-pop operation that flies into the rugged North Wasatch Range outside Ogden. Six runs with 18,000-20,000 feet of vert awaits for upper intermediate and higher level ability. Takeoff from summit of Powder Mountain, where they'll should be plenty of inbounds untracked for the trip down to the car.
Ruby Mountains Heli-Experience begins at new ranch house lodge about 20 miles off Elko (Nevada) exit on I-80 The small 60-mile long, 12-mile wide Ruby Mountain Range rises to 11,000 feet to catch super-dry desert powder. Stay-and-fly package covers seven runs and cops 13,000+ vert per day. Snowcat ready for backup on stormy days.
Some five hours from Seattle in Mazama, laid-back North Cascade Heli offers one- and three-day excursions for skiers and riders to get to Washington’s highest elevations (8,000 feet) in the gnarly North Cascade Mountains. Run "by riders for riders," there are five areas to choose from with prime mountain lodge accommodations.
If celebrating a white Christmas is on your wish list this year, planning to spend the day with loved ones on the slopes is just what Santa ordered. Finish the day with a festive meal where everyone can relax and enjoy each other’s company and you’ve got a family tradition in the making. Follow up an uncrowded day skiing and riding with a feast at one of these mountain resorts.
Wyoming’s Grand Targhee has the snow right now, making it a great bet for a white Christmas. Celebrate the holiday season at Branding Iron Grill with a special four-course Christmas dinner menu.
Celebrate in British Columbia at Big White’s snow covered winter wonderland filled with the sights, sounds and smells of the holidays. A festive prefix Christmas dinner will be served the evening of December 25 and a Christmas day brunch at Kettle Valley Steakhouse. Or order ahead and enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner delivered right to your chalet or condo.
Head to the White Mountains of New Hampshire’s Bretton Woods for a beautiful Christmas Day on the slopes before settling down to the luxurious Omni Mount Washington Hotel Christmas day buffet. A feast fit for any man, lady or child, this smorgasbord will surely leave you full all day.
Gather the family together and celebrate Christmas at Pennsylvania’s Seven Springs Mountain Resort, where you can enjoy a traditional holiday dinner created by the culinary team in the Slopeside restaurant. From traditional dishes to please everyone’s tastes, to carving stations and tempting desserts of every type and style, create a new memory this Christmas at Seven Springs.
Enjoy a family-friendly Colorado Christmas dinner slopeside at Purgatory’s Purgy’s after a great day on the slopes. They will have several special holiday items added to Purgy’s menu for the night.
Michigan's Mount Bohemia is a powder pig’s paradise. It is not your typical Midwest ski area. There’s 900 vertical feet of black diamond I, II, and III-rated glade runs, no snow making, no grooming and nothing that a typical Heartland beginner or intermediate skier or snowboarder wants to tackle. It has made it to the final four of Powder Magazine’s annual reader’s poll for best powder in North America. It’s as close to Jackson Hole as you’ll find around the Great Lakes, and they receive up to 300-inches of light lake-effect snow per season.
Trails. There’s close to 600-acres on Mount Bohemia with eight glade zones that offer numerous tracks down the mountain. Some end up a couple of miles from the lodge, but no worry - a school bus continually runs up and down the access road between the area’s two chairlifts picking up skiers as they exit the glades. There are cliff areas in some of the glades, and a few open runs on the front side that double as waterfalls in the spring.
Nearby Voodoo Mountain, the only skicat operation in the Great Lakes is a separate operation that operates on Wednesday and Saturday only. It’s a daylong adventure skiing Voodoos 200-acres of glade skiing and open runs accessed with a cat. The vertical drop is 700 feet almost to the Lake Superior shoreline.
Stay. Mount Bohemia offers a variety of lodging options, all close to the mountain and some trailside. There are log cabins and yurts, some trailside, the five-bedroom Inn on Lac Labelle and even a hostel that runs $45 per night. All lodging has access to the activity building that includes a lounging area with a fireplace, large TV and small cooking area.
Eat. At Bohemia the Log Cabin Italian Bistro offers wood-fired oven pizza, a 14 person indoor sauna and the UP’s largest hot tub. The North Pole Bar and Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and a northwood menu for dinner fare. For fine dining with a wonderful view of Lake Superior a visit to the Harbor Haus in nearby Copper Harbor is a must. The planked whitefish is fresh daily.
Deals. When you book a trailside cabin or yurt on a Tuesday or Thursday night you get Wednesday night free.
Play. Rent a snowmobile in nearby Copper Harbor at Copper Country Rentals for a ride up Brockway Mountain for an awesome view or on the trails near Lake Superior. Abundant trails are available throughout the peninsula.
Dec. 14, 1947, was the first opening date for Whitefish Mountain Resort. They will be celebrating Big Mountain’s 70th anniversary all season long, and hopefully a repeat of last season’s record breaking 400+ inches of snow.
Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, they will host the Founder’s Celebration in the Lift Plaza at 10 a.m. when they honor co-founders Ed Schenck and George Prentice, and Lloyd “Mully” Muldown, considered the “father of skiing in Whitefish.” More celebrating will take place during Hellroaring Ski Heritage Days, Jan. 19-21.
Chair 5 is now installed on the East Rim and finishing touches have it ready to ride on opening day, Dec. 7. Plans call for chairlifts 7, 11 and the T-Bar to be running opening day as well.
Ed and Mully’s building got all new siding, new windows and impressive, redesigned entrances. Everyone’s favorite classic-The Bierstube-also received a major exterior remodel and got a new covered deck.
If your pre-purchase lift tickets online you can save anywhere from $22 to $36, depending on the day of the week, off the window lift price, except for holidays.
Women’s Ski Day is Saturday, Dec. 16, and a full-day lift ticket and half-day lesson is $59. Following the lesson your instructor will give you a voucher for a free Frequent Skier Card, and Ed and Mully’s is hosting an après ski event. Grab some girlfriends and enjoy the day.
The resort is having a January White Sale, book two nights and receive a third night free. The offer is valid Jan. 4-31, including Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Ski and stay packages from $89 per person, per night are available at the Hibernation House Jan. 6-31. The offer, good any night of the week, also includes a lift ticket, hot breakfast and hot tub access.
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