The Daily Demarche
Saturday, February 19, 2005
And Now For Something Completely Different... Skiing
As a lark, I thought I would veer slightly from the everyday business of pretending to be sage and wise.

It's winter (in the northern hemisphere), and I love skiing -- the steeper, the gnarlier, the better. I've skiied in approximately a dozen or so different places in the US, on both coasts and in the Rockies. Therefore, I give you: my three favorite American ski spots. In the interest of maintaining my anonymity, I'm not listing my favorite overseas skiing spots.

Herewith, however, is my list of the best in US skiing.

1. Crested Butte, Colorado: one of the steepest lift-served ski areas in the US (right up there with Jackson Hole and Taos), CB has some awesome off-piste skiing, particularly Phoenix/Spellbound and Third Bowl: steeps, cliffs, bumps... awesome. The imposing Paradise headwall has some awesome steep, ski-width chutes to get your heart and lungs going. Also has great intermediate terrain (although a blue in the Butte might get a black rating elsewhere). Also has good backcountry skiing, if you want to earn your turns. Forget the lodge for lunch, there's a couple of guys who sell tacos out of a trolley right at the base. Apres ski: go to town for Teocalli Tamale, washed off with a Fat Tire beer.

2. Snowbird, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah: Steep, deep, lots of vertical, bluebird sky, friendly locals, and, best of all, cheap: $49 for an all day lift ticket ($59 if you want the tram). If you had a mind to, you could ride the entire vertical distance of the mountain (3200 feet), do it again and again, and would need to buy new pants to hold your massive thighs. You gotta love a mountain where your legs are still burning after you get off the lift! The Wasatch mountains also contain some awesome backcountry skiing, accessible by helicopter for those not on government salaries. Apres ski: despite Utah's, err, prudish reputation, one can buy good beer. You just have to go to one of the "clubs" and pay the five dollar cover charge, er, "membership fee", and one can sample all of Utah's fine microbrews.

3. Santa Fe Ski Area, New Mexico: A small, hugely underrated area in New Mexico. If you ski with a local, you can find everything you want: bumps, powder, tight chutes, cliffs, and the best tree skiing in the West. Fresh white powder under a turqouise blue sky. Backcountry skiing can be done at places like the Nambe chutes, and other nooks and crannies. Apres-ski: drive back to Santa Fe for any one of dozens of great Mexican restaurants, washed down with margaritas or Corona.

Readers are invited to chime in with their own favorite ski areas, US or other, in the comments thread. If your recommendation is good, I might just stop by if I'm ever in the neighborhood (well, it is nice to dream, eh?).

End of post. Ignore the link below.

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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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