I’m often asked about my favorite places to ski, so here are some of my recommendations from around the world:
Kootnay Mountains, British Columbia’s Red Mountain Resort and Whitewater Resorts:
While I love almost all of the skiing in BC, I’m choosing this area because of the consistently great snow that adheres to rocks, GREAT ski towns, the friendliest locals, phenomenally varied steep terrain, affordability and easy access (flights to Spokane,Washington,USA and short drive across border). When folks ask me if and where I have a pass, I respond that I don’t, but if I did I wish it was here and I wish I could live in Nelson or Rossland! Almost nowhere in the world have I experienced pillows like those in Steep Roots at Red Mountain, or powder that felt like backcountry but was actually inbounds like in Whitewater. It’s no wonder I choose to spend most of my season at these two places and that I run most of my Steep Skiing Camps in the Kootnays. What I also adore is the non-resort vibe at these towns/ski areas – reminds me of my childhood at Crotched Mountain New Hampshire. This is skiing as it should be.
Tip: Don’t miss the $25 dorm rooms at the Adventure Hotel or pay-as-you can or trade for rooms at Angie’s B&B. Don’t forget about the great slackcountry — bring all your backcountry gear almost every day to these areas.
Verbier, Switzerland + Chamonix, France or La Grave + Serre Chevalier, France:
I’m mushing these together because different folks may want one over the other or, ideally, both. Both are beyond words when using the lifts to access the backcountry. When I want to scare myself, I go to ski the couloirs in Cham. Besides Argentina, I don’t think I’ve ever almost peed my pants like when we skied the Rhonde when icy, and a guide died that day in the couloir next door in the same hour. I’ve also skied almost 7,000 feet of blower snow in a chute almost all to ourselves. Verbier also has epic backcountry off the lifts, but it is more wide open peak to peak adventure skiing and if you want to end up at a place with a bus or train back where you started, hire a guide or make a good friend at the bar. Another strong contender in this category is La Grave (pucker factor even higher than Cham) and Serre Chevalier (OMG steep trees/spines).
Manali, Indian Himalayas:
Typical response, “what Mountains are there?” Duh, they’re the HIMALAYAS, only the greatest, tallest and most epic mountain range in the WORLD. But great mountains don’t always make for a great skiing experience. Case in point, I adore skiing in the Chugatch Range of Alaska (Valdez, etc), but the rest – grey weather, greasy food, epic down time, heli expense, lack of trees for backcountry hiking on gray days, etc.) don’t contribute to my absolute favorite overall experience. Manali is an breathtaking Indian honeymoon destination, which changes everything. Epically tasty and inexpensive cuisine, no AK47’s like Kashmir/Gulmarg, colorful and almost weekly Buddhist and Hindu festivals, 5-star lodging and service at a budget hostel expense, Colorado-like weather/snow with Utah-like Intercontinental snowpack, and the mountains? Well, need I say more? Don’t leave home without: CR Spooner’s book “Ski Touring India’s Kullu Valley.”
To Be Continued…
Osprey Athlete ALISON GANNETT is a self-sufficient farmer, World Champion Extreme FreeSkier, mountain biker, award-winning global cooling consultant and founder of the multiple non-profits. In addition to being an athlete, ambassador and keynote speaking, Alison runs KEEN Rippin Chix Camps which offer women’s steep skiing, biking and surf camps around the globe. She has starred in many movies, TV shows, and magazines receiving many awards for her work including National Geographic’s “Woman Adventurer of the Year,” Powder Magazine’s “48 Greatest Skiers of All Time,” and Outside Magazine’s “Green All-Star of the Year.” In 2010, she and her husband Jason bought Holy Terror Farm, kicking off their next chapter of personal health and self-sustainability.
Unless you’ve been living in a deep, dark cave… You may have noticed that there is a lot of cool stuff going on out there. So, we thought it was high-time we started rounding up some of our faves each Friday. Every month, we’ll be choosing a theme that fits with the Osprey lifestyle. It’s August which means it’s time to take advantage of the last weeks of summer, and what better way than getting in the water? This month we’re all about swimming holes, waterfalls, ocean breaks and waterways of all kinds. Welcome to the Osprey Friday Round-Up!
It’s the last Friday in August… how are you going to spend it? Out on the water hopefully!
The first steps toward carbon freedom were canoe trips on the Bitterroot River near my home in Missoula, Mont., with my friend Nick and his dog Katie. This was necessity, not environmentalism: Nick had a car, but no canoe; I had a canoe, but no car; and we both had bicycles. Attentive scouting revealed a 13-mile stretch between small towns in which the Bitterroot was paralleled not only by Highway 93 but also by a bike path. En route by car to the put-in, we left our bikes at the take-out; then, after floating, we cycled back to retrieve Nick’s Isuzu to take us home. Katie ran between us. Given her tendency to hop in and out of the canoe, the bike shuttle offered more than good exercise and great views of the Bitterroot Mountains: It gave us a chance to dry off after three hours of splashing.
Still, it felt wrong to drive at all. Enter the packraft. Sold by Alpacka, a small family firm in Mancos, Colo., the best packrafts are extremely durable, ultra-lightweight inflatable rafts designed expressly for those who want to reach river’s edge on trail mix alone. The simplest craft weighs just over three pounds and deflates to the size of a couple water bottles — perfect for stuffing in a backpack or bike bag. Because the raft then expands to roughly 3-by-5-feet, paddlers can fit not only themselves but also their disassembled bikes inside.
Speaking of rivers, did you hear that an enormous underground river was recently discovered in the Amazon? The massive water system is thought to stretch for 3,700 miles across the Amazon basin with an average width of about 200 miles. Wow, pretty cool.
Busting out the canoe this weekend? Gear Junkie has the gear list of gear lists if you’re headed for Boundary Waters. Hint: it requires hammocks and espresso.
And just because it’s Friday, we’ll leave you with this photo from surf photographer Clark Little that’s sure to get you off your couch, into your car and out to the waves.