With all "relevant"* ski rags gone, somebody's gotta take up the slack. Challenge accepted.
Best of the West
1) Hoodoo. I mean, really. Volcanoes, volcanoes, volcanoes, volcanoes, volcanoes. Did I mention the tuya? Have you SEEN a tuya?! Rad. Oh, the skiing also happens to be really good. Well, not "happens", it just is. Steep, deep, closer to the Valley than Bachelor, Cascady in all the ways, you got it. No excuses. Also, still got them Riblets, natch. They didn't open in the Bad Year, but you could kayak up to the chairs a few times.
2) Brighton. Yeah, sure, whatever, Big Bad Boyne, we don't care. It's like Crystal in the 80s. Dank basements, funky chair alignments, and frickin awesome fall line schred monster skiing. Seriously. Milly is, like, Big Sky except you don't gots ta deal with somebody correcting you on how to say BIG Sky. BIG Sky, not Big Sky. Grr. Brighton is just, well, weird. And that's how we like it. Did I mention they got four hundred pow days last winter? No? They did. Plus nights, so that's like ten hundred pow days.
3) Discovery. You don't know where it is, and you don't know how big it is. It's big, and it's in the middle of nowhere. Plus, skiing is rad, and also, it's big and in the middle of nowhere and trees and lotsa skiing and no detaches and maybe a little or a medium lot weird and GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL
4) Beaver. Amy says it's number one, and she's right, but I already put Hoodoo there and I don't know how to work this thing. Anyway, Beaver is magical. Marge Seeholzer is (from experience) a well-spoken, kind, observant woman. The best sort of folk whom you always want to meet at a ski joint. And her family has been running it since the beginning, with Marge's son Travis nominally at the helm, though they still say Marge is the boss. The skiing is good, too, long cruisers, steep trees, legendary Utah pow, views of the Bear River Range, moguls when you want em, but it is simply being there that makes it. There isn't any adequate description, and I think that's a pretty high compliment. When you think Utah, think Beaver. Seriously. You will punch me for not telling you sooner.
5) Mt Baldy. Not that one, the other one. No, not in Canada, in LA. Seriously. You think I'm joking, but you forget that a) skiing is rad wherever you do it and b) MOUNT FRICKIN SAN FRICKIN ANTONIO. IT'S TEN MILLION FEET TALL. There's old lifts, weird terrain, funky locale, and the obvious advantage of being somewhere no one will believe you've skied. There's interesting conifers, incredible views, funk, the sheer madness of skiing thirteen feet from your front door in Ontario, don't miss it.
6) Snow King. There's a really good Korean restaurant, the best just about anywhere, and they have these rice triangles that are wrapped in seaweed and you can get either vejies or spicy tuna and they're the perfect after skiing snack and there's like a playground and a hockey rink and the sun doesn't rise until April so you know it's steep AF and the runs are narrow and
Not the West
1) Buck Hill. Just cos I grew up there. And that's why. And I have many fond memories. Yeah, I mean, Lindsey Vonn, Paula Moltzan, Kristina Koznick. It's close to the Burnsville Mall, and you can watch ice fishing from all the runs. It's just across the street. And there are fireflies, which Eino doesn't believe in cos he never seent em. Amy claims "they aren't there in winter," which makes Eino even more suspicious.
2) Mont Ripley. It's in the UP, which is the Napa of the Midwest, if Napa were actually a cool place and if it were cold and got hit with up to 400 inches in the best years and you go places on snowmachines as much as possible, and there's Michigan Tech, and Ripley is pretty darn steep, when it comes down to it. Also, pasty. Did you know there's a pasty trail? It's like a beer trail, except, you know, not boring. And good. Pasty is good. Mont Ripley is good. I seent it once. Gramma Linnea grew up just north of there. Lake Laurium, Calumet, somewhere thereabouts. By the Trap Rock. Also LAKE EFFECT IT DON'T GET NO HIPPER THAN LAKE EFFECT YEEEAAAAAAAHHHH SUCK ON IT REED TIMMER.
3) Trollhaugen. They do it right in Wisco. Or as they say it Utah, WESconsin. It's cold when it's not not cold, except in summer, when it's always not cold. At least Amy says so. It's right near the river, not far from Wild Mountain. You can turn both ways and stop there, and like we said earlier, skiing is better than not skiing. The separation is like if you live in Florida, that's not skiing, and if you went to Wisconsin, that's skiing. That's how much better skiing is that not skiing, and Trollhaugen IS skiing. Right to the core, don't ask questions, just go. In fact, why aren't you already there? You do know they are the one of the only 100% Borvig-lineage mountains that isn't Bluewood, don't you?
4) Wild Mountain. They are sometimes the first open in October. Before A Basin, Keystones, The Beast, whatever. Just upstream and across the La Croix River, that storied, bubbly, tasty, refreshing river that raises in the wilds of North Wisco, which Amy canoed on back in the day, into which she fell, possibly, which Louis Hennepin is said to have said they called le Rîvięrë Tombeaux, which is Frenchist for Le River Tombeaux. Hennepin was Belgianist, so who knows. Anyway, Wild Mountain is tucked away nicely upcountry from the Cities, on the west bank of the the La Croix, naturally essenced by the trees and at a slower pace. Not all that coincidentally, as recently as last year, Wild was a 100% Borvig mountain, too, but they're building a new Skytrac, so, not quite as cool as they could be. I still root for em every October. Giver, Wild! Rip that manmade! Skiing here is better than not skiing, and to be honest, give me the choice of Vail or Wild for the rest of my turns, you know which I'll choose. Vail can take a flying leap at a rolling nuclear doughnut.
5) Perfect North. They batted 1.000 when it came to Riblets, until this summer. A quick drive from Cincinatti, they're almost Appalachian and almost midwest, and I dig me some edge-of-the-world bordertown shit. They are at the moment a well-run org, with at least one other small area in their portfolio, which sounds like a weird thing to put in a best-of list except that they are among the only independent joints in the Eastern Midwest, so I say GIVE EM HELL, MR PERFECT. Also, they have snow, and snow is fun, and skiing on snow is fun, and lifts are fun, and if you live nearby, then ring up an afternoon of turns and Riblets and you will never be disappointed.
East of the Beast
1) Sugar. I mean, really. There's turns, there's lifts, there's a big college with some rad football history, and one of the ugliest buildings in any mountains which you can hate and complain about or actually do something positive about, like firebombing. Anyway, the skiing does get steep, and I totally know a guy who skied there in college. The summit is higher than any skiing in Vermont. Which makes me laugh. Everybody's like "skiing? When you list skiing, Vermont is like top ten." But yeah, Sugar's higher than Mansfield and all of Vermont--which literally means Green Mountain, so like Vermont the Green Mountain State is like Boise, City of trees, which is Trees, City of Trees--and within spittin elevation of Marcy and Katahdin, otherwise known as the tallest hills in Maine and New York, or something like that. Anyway, back in 2002, me and Brian Terwilliger of App State and Sugar Mountain agreed on a race cos he banged gates and I was a ski bum and he thought he'd be faster. I tole im I'd race on any ski, and he could also choose the race, and he told me to grab whatever I thought was faster and we'd tuck from the top of 5 to the bottom; in good Baker fashion, we were turning for directional purposes only. I've weighed north of 200 my entire adult life, and I had a pair of 197 Igneous givin er skis, and he was on his 165 cm slalom sticks, all 145 pounds with gear. Somehow, I won. Musta been skill. Not physics, nope, not at all.
2) Yawgoons. You just gotta. If you don't this year, you'll be one year older when you do. And if you can ski here, you can ski anywhere. Also, there's some snowboarders there who done got some creativity like no other. And a questionable obsession with corrugated pipe. Rhode Island, man, it's the future.
3) Saddleback. It's frickin gorgeous, and it's frickin independent. And big, imposing, steep, varied, everything us snobby Westerners claim we are. They get all the Mainer weathers, the peak is exposed, and they ain't nut'n like it. I'd be more effusive, but it's unnecessary. When you think Beast Coast, if Saddleback isn't on your radar, you're wrong, and I don't know you. You probly drink apple juice that isn't from Washington and think Crystal Pepsi was a genius idear that just needed the right marketing touch.
4) Owl's Head. It's named after a guy who looked like an owl. Not that the hill looks like an owl. It's in the Cantons de l'Est, which is Canadian Frenchist for Cantons de the East. Picture yourself in France around the time of the Revolution. Heads are rolling in the streets, there's barricades, Jean Valjean is singing to Penelope Cruz, things is happening. Anne Hathaway just got a haircut, and Jean Reno is driving a Renault. Y'know? Anyway, say you're on the Left Bank of the Seine, selling loose joints to tourists. These tourists don't know French Fries from French Toast, nor why those terms are both incorrect. Now, within this hallucination, sit down at a cafë, that one right there. Close your eyes, and imagine all of this is gone and you're in the countryside, with spotty but impressive hills surrounding you at distances, and snow on the ground, and skiing. Now you're feelin it. There's Jack Chirac over there, in a sweater and cap, Gauloise hanging jauntily from his lower lip like Andy Capp, skis slung over his shoulder. In the distance you can see Sylvain Soudan and Tessa Worley and Johan Clarey rippin the grooms under the Panorama quad, just layin them tracks like they was Leland Stanford scamming the US taxpayers. Something like that.
5) The Jay Waterpark. Nothing says skiing like not skiing.
6) Titus. This one is real. I mean, I'd rather it was still called Moon Valley, but I ain't the one owning it. Titus is upstate, basically in the Eastern Townships of QC, but not really cos it isn't l'Est enough. Situated kinda like a farm where one farmer stitches together pasture from a few different plots and makes do with walking his cows across the street every so often cos that's just what you gotta do sometimes. Spread across three knolls--with a gravel pit at one end å łã Number 4 in The Rockies Tee Em Terry Peak and the Wharf Mine--it takes a little imagination and perseverance to ski everything in one fell swoop. It gets cold up north on the Salmon River, which, by the way, unlike that one out west, doesn't have sharks, and that's what skiing is for. Titus isn't huge, 200 acres, give or take, but they have 1200 or so vertical and a good variety of tree-lined runs, both cruising and gettin after it. Lastly, and probly like third most importantly, there's an Owl's Head nearby. That counts for something here in BoyCee, as does the maple syrup operation that serves up 5000 gallons every year, according to NY Ski Blog. Pancakes, man. The best way to eat syrup. Unless you count waffles. Maybe doughnuts. Anyway, get some.
The Lower Left
1) Somehow, people don't consider California to be the Southwest, even though they are the southest and westiest. So this'll be the "American Southwest", or, like, whatever we say it is.
2) Spider Mountain. There's no skiing here, but there's a used Poma quad that came from the degens upcountry in Taos. You slap them berms on yer 180mm schredd sledd. The chair spacing is stupid close together, so you can, I don't know, toast yer buds.
3) Mt Lemmon. They have a stuffed bear secured to a chair that the internet mistook for a real bear. Also, the southern-most lift-served in the Lower 48. Also named after a delicious summer beverage that is best when accompanied by raspberries.
4) Lee Canyon. It's basically in downtown Vegas, except you'd never know it cos there's ridiculous cool mountains and big canyons and it's steep and it snows and unfortunately, it gets hit by hurricanes from time to time. I think Kimberly-Clark would call that "unique complexities", but then, real skiers aren't corporate asshats who take their kleenex and leave the entire country of Canada to rub snot off on their sleeves. If you are a corporate asshat and also happen to ski, then you probly aren't who acquaintance of the blog and powder pontiff (powntiff?!) Jackson Hogan is speaking to. Next time you're thinking of
throwing your money away gambling, plan it for winter, bring yer gear, and forget the slots. Once again, skiing in one of the least likely places to ski is worth its weight in kruppsu.
5) Cloudcroft. Named after a local town, the name of which I can't remember, it's a joint Peter Landsman calls "small but mighty". It's the southernmost ski area in the Lower 48 that isn't Mt Lemmon, it's got a single, steep Von Roll double, and it's near White Sands, which is, like, a Mad River Glen for crazies. Cloudcroft is pretty high, and also it's up there in elevation. (Huh huh. That's a joke, cos like, hippie lettuce is legal in NM.) There's some pine, some aspen, which you can tell because of the way that it is, and meadows that look like they'd make nice pasture land for Angus and Hereford. Just remember, if you can ski here, you can ski anywhere.
6) Brian Head. The name strikes fear into paranoiacs and LSD lifers alike. I mean, what is a Brian Head? Is it a human dude? Does he work for the NSA?! HOW DO I GET AWAY FROM THE MICROWAVES!!!! There's some rad skiing, not as close to Vegas as Lee Charleston, but a doable day trip. Giant Steps should attract them mythical "experts", with its complex references to Coltrane and Sting when they were on Apollo 11 with Michael Collins.
7) Hesperus. It's the Smallest Skiing in ColoRADo tee em. Unless somewhere else is, like maybe Kendall. You can see it from the highway into Durango when your Subaru is Death Rattling its way along, sounding like a fireplace poker in a steel tube, which, not coincidentally, is basically what is actually going on. Built to Last will slam a new engine in there for you if you ask nicely, but it'll cost a bunch. Plus, you'll probly need a clutch, cos that's buried between the engine and the transmission (go figure, right?) in an inaccessible way such that no matter what, you gots to yank one or the other to get to it, and like, your "warranty" won't cover it cos you changed your own oil, and you'll just be stuck in town, too scared to ask the neighbourhood bike joints if you can build bikes for cash so you don't have to take the Greyhound home, which, just so we're clear, takes about 34 hours and is super boring, and there's ex-cons in some of the seats but they got good stories and seem harmless which hopefully they are, and one rodeo cowboy from Ontario, and when you switch busses in Stanfield, near the melon places, it ain't in some fancy bus stop like it was in Salt Lake, it's literally the side lot of a Pilot next to Interstate 84, comfortable as a burnt sticky bun in a Finnish sauna, and the only seat is yer backpack, and there's STILL eight or nine hours to go.
The Best Ones We Didn't Put Elsewhere
1) Mauna Kea. You know you dream of flying to the subtropics on a whim to hitchhike with Science Hippies up to the Observatory to get thirteen mediocre turns before the snow melts. Wait. That is exactly what I want right the heck now, more than just about anything besides kruppsu with lingonberry and gravlax on the side. Bring on the tradewinds!!!!
2) Hilltop. It's in Anchorage, which is like, almost BC, so get to it. You fly into Ted Stevens--don't ask me how, cos he's dead, but that's what they claim; Alaskans are weird--and then start yelling YO WHERE HILLTOP AT and eventually you'll be skiing in a nice urban park. There are huge mountains in Alaska, and tons of snow, and Hilltop is skiing on neither of those, but it's skiing and we all know that skiing is absolutely frickin worth it, every time.
3) Sundown Mountain, Iowa. Like many good Midwesty ski houses, there's an ambitious name, some fun groomers, a little history, trees, and it's situated on a big river bank. In this case, it's the Little Maquoketa River. Bring your slalom sticks, and make lots of turns. They'll be fun, you'll be skiing, and you'll probly more than a little smug about it.