'Iron Paths' Climb Some Of Most Iconic Walls In The West

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Via ferratas require rock-face, cliff-y terrain, so it's no surprise that "iron paths" in the West can be found on ski and snowboard mountains known for their steeps.

Fixed “protection” on the rock, such as cables, steps, pegs and ladders allow inexperienced climbers to hook in and safely ascend on rock faces. Some via ferratas even incorporate hanging bridges. Reservations required for guided tours from 90 minutes to four hours. Here's a look at the "iron roads" within the trail-map boundaries of five resorts in the West.

The highest elevation for a via ferrata sits in Arapaho Basin's East Wall. A chairlift ride to mid-mountain, then an OHV ride gets to the base of the climb at 11,800 feet elevation. The full-day climb ascends 1,200 feet to the 13,000-foot top ridge of A-Basin. A shorter version goes to an abandoned mine shaft for a history lesson.

In the northern Rockies, Jackson Hole built the most extensive via ferrata in the West. A gondola ride delivers climbers to extensive route layout in upper-mountain Casper Bowl. A dozen routes – from introductory to most difficult – and a 120-foot suspension bridge await. Rates include two-hour practice climb, half-day option or six-hour full day on the rock, all spread across rock face with 500 feet of vertical drop.

In the southern Rockies, Taos Ski Valley has open a via ferrata complex on the famous cliffs of Kachina Bowl. At 11,500 feet above sea level, beginner and intermediate routes criss-cross the Kachina face and include a 100-foot-long bridge suspended 50 feet in the air. More advanced climbers move over to the infamous K Chutes that has a 50-foot cable walk.

In California, Mammoth Mammoth is one of two resorts in the state with a via ferrata. A gondola ride to mid-mountain McCoy Station arrives below the Caldera Overlook. Six routes await: three beginner, two moderate with a suspension bridge between, and one expert. Climbs are 180 feet long for three-hour private and 90-minute group tours.

The other is Palisades Tahoe, where the lower mountain's iconic Tram Face is ideal for fixed-route climbing. A 4x4 ride and short hike gets climbers to four routes of varying difficulty that ascend some 800 feet of rock wall. Routes were designed with kids in mind, and 4x4 await at the top for return ride to the Olympic Village.

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No Surprises Among Western Resorts Staying Open Late

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The usual suspects will extend the 2021-2022 ski and snowboard season through May and beyond, as a flurry of late-season storms has reinforced the snowpack throughout the West.

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Is This The End Of The Trail Map?

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At ski resorts around the country, the familiar paper map is disappearing, as mountains push skiers to use apps and other digital resources. But some skiers are pushing back.

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SnoCast: Will March Come in Like a Lion or Lamb?

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This first weekend of March features a more "lion-like" and snowy setup across the West, while the East sees lamb-like signs of spring time weather. Let's dig into the forecast in this week's SnoCast.

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California’s Original Ski Resort Is One of the Sierras’ Best Kept Secrets

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When it comes to classic California ski trips, Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain are the big two — but nestled among towering red fir and lodgepole pines above the Yosemite Valley floor, Badger Pass has been a local “in the know” spot for generations.

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Waiting For The Snow: Weather Expected To Turn Favorable For Resort Openings

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The 2021-22 ski and snowboard season has gotten off to a rocky start, with only the highest-elevation slopes open and all others waiting impatiently for more snowfall and colder temps.

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California's Trio Of Ikon Pass Resorts Rarin' To Go

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Things are expected to get closer to "normal" at California ski and snowboard resorts this season, as do the four mountain resorts in the Golden Bear State that honor the Ikon Pass.

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Big Snow = Early Openings in California For Mammoth, Palisades Tahoe

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Thanks to more than three feet of snow, California's Mammoth Mountain and Palisades Tahoe will open for the season on Friday, Oct. 29.

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What's New at California Resorts This Season

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As temperatures begin to shift, Ski California resorts are gearing up for the 2021-22 winter season with investments in infrastructure, facilities improvements, and technology that will continue to allow for fast, contactless lift access, reservations and payment, and high-quality experiences.

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SnoCast: A Stormy Western Pattern; Mild Conditions in the East

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 A series of storms will target the West this week with some of the heaviest snow yet of the season in the Sierras, while the East continues to bask in mild temperature. Here are the details in this week’s SnoCast.

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Summer Winds Down With Traditional Oktoberfest, Brew Fest Events

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At many ski and snowboard resorts, October comes in September -- in the form of the lederhosen, dirndl, clogs, knee socks, and, of course, beer.

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Things Are Hoppin' At Mammoth Mountain In August

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Few ski and snowboard resorts in the West open up their arms to summer festivals and special events like Mammoth Mountain in the southern Sierra.

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E-bike, Stargaze, Rock Climb, Hike At Ski Resorts This Summer

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Chelsea Clapham and her family began snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain four years ago. They enjoyed it so much that they return to the resort year-round. “We like summer and fall up there almost as much as winter,” said Clapham, who lives in Santa Clarita with her husband, Shaun, and two kids. “We have family friends who let us use their condo, so we’re hooked.”

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Electric MTBs Take On The Mountains In The West

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It's been almost a decade since electric-assisted e-bikes hit the streets and bike paths of the urban West, and now they are gaining acceptance as a summer option at ski and snowboard mountain resorts.

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Still Plenty Of Turns As Season Extends Into May ... And Beyond

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The vast majority of U.S. ski and snowboard resorts have shuttered operations for the season -- many of them extending past announced closing dates -- but a hearty dozen will spin their lifts deep into the spring.

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Alterra Opens Up Its Wallet; Squaw-Alpine Gondola Finally To Get Built

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The purveyors of the Ikon Pass have announced a new round of investments at its major ski and snowboard resorts in the West, including the much-anticipated gondola connection between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

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SnoCast: New Snow for the Turn Into Spring

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Can you believe it? The final days of winter have come. As spring officially arrives Saturday, we’ll enjoy mild turns in the East, while winter refuses to let go in the West. Forecast details in this week’s SnoCast.

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These Ski Resorts Offer Superb Ski-In, Ski-Out Lodging

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Now more than ever, people will require a real sense of seclusion while on their ski vacations. Gone for the time being are the après ski parties, the socializing in the lodge during a quick break for lunch and eight-passenger gondola rides. These have been temporarily replaced with such wellness guidelines as chair lift rides consisting of family members only, food trucks as opposed to eating in the lodge and private ski instruction instead of group lessons.

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Powder Days All Around! Massive Storms Roll Across The West

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In the waning days of January, Mother Nature got to work -- dropping her glorious bounty upon the mountains of the West, and finally giving skiers and snowboarders the deep powder they've been waiting for.

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SnoCast: Coast to Coast Snow To End January

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So much to cover in this week’s SnoCast as we dig out from feet of snow in the west, and eye new snow in the Midwest and Northeast—everyone gets something to finish off January.

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