Best of the Powder (2009)

Comments by Freeskier Magazine/

This story originally ran in the October 2008 issue of Freeskier (V11.1).

Photo: Grant Gunderson
MT. BAKER, WASHINGTON

TICKET PRICE: $44
VERTICAL DROP: 1,500’
ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 650”
SKIABLE ACRES: 1,000

What can you say about Mount Baker that hasn’t already been said? The ski area easily racks up double the snowfall of other hills, the terrain is epic and the vibe is as real as it gets. It doesn’t have the most in-bounds terrain, but that’s entirely irrelevant, as Baker provides access to some of the best back- country in the Northwest. And don’t forget, this is the mountain that clocked the all-time single season record for snowfall at 1,140 inches during the ’98/’99 season. That’s 95 feet!

mtbaker.us

FERNIE, BRITISH COLUMBIA

TICKET PRICE: $72
VERTICAL DROP: 2,816’
ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 348”
SKIABLE ACRES: 2,504

Deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Fernie gets snow, and lots of it. With almost 350 inches per year falling on the mountain’s steep glades and hike-to alpine terrain, this is a place where you come to ski deep snow, share a beer with your friends and then get up and do it all over again the next day. While heavy partying options are limited, the Grizzly Bar has a solid après ski. Or check out one of Canada’s favorite sports, curling, at the Fernie Curling Club (250-423-6553).

skifernie.com

RED MOUNTAIN, BRITISH COLUMBIA

TICKET PRICE: $59
VERTICAL DROP: 2,919’
ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 300”
SKIABLE ACRES: 1,685

Expect a distinctly laid back atmosphere at this mountain, which is within easy striking distance of Spokane, WA. Red is a favorite across-the-border jaunt for Eastern Cascade locals who appreciate the combination of epic tree lines and steep, hike-to out-of-bounds terrain. The nearby town of Rossland has a hip mountain ambiance and a variety of hotels and restaurants, but stay up at the mountain to lay claim to first tracks.

redresort.com

CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN, WASHINGTON

TICKET PRICE: $58
VERTICAL DROP: 3,100’
ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 350”
SKIABLE ACRES: 2,600

For years, Crystal was a quiet backwater, appreciated by locals who chowed down on untracked lines. Lately, though, the mountain has been turning up the volume by adding lifts and opening up new terrain. The improvements haven’t changed the vibe of the resort, which remains quiet and still holds plenty of untapped lines on storm days — especially during the week — but it has made good terrain more accessible, and the skiers are on their way.

skicrystal.com

ALYESKA, ALASKA

TICKET PRICE: $55
VERTICAL DROP: 2,500’
ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 631”
SKIABLE ACRES: 1,400

There are a lot of things to like about Alyeska: it’s steep, it gets tons of snow, the views are amazing and the mountain is empty. Of course, you can watch the northern lights or see eagles, but you really come here for the super deep and super steep that is Alaska. Everything else, from the luxury of the Hotel Alyeska to the views of the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet, is merely a bonus.

alyeskaresort.com