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Road tripping North America


Ever heard of the saying ‘The grass is always greener on the other side’? You probably did. Does it make any sense? It probably does. Especially for skiers and snowboarders, because we’re the type of people who like to go out for an adventure, to search for new lines to ride, to find waist deep powder and meet interesting people.


Last season, we left the Dutch mountains and we didn’t travel to the European Alps like we normally do, but decided that this was the right time to cross the pond and experience the effects of ‘La Nina’. It wasn’t our first time in the US and Canada, but this trip was different. More than 2 ½ weeks of stormchasing. We decided to document our trip and publish all our experiences to help you organise a roadtrip like this for yourself. In the end, we drove over 4500 kilometers (or 2796 miles) to find out that roadtripping the United States and Canada is an amazing experience that every European skier and boarder should do at least once. We discovered new lines, met some great people, visited amazing resorts, but above all we experienced the stoke and enthousiasm that all the locals had for their home mountain.

So goodbye ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ and hello ‘the snow is whiter on this mountain’!

Bart Suichies


Arjen de Graaf


Maurice Mommen


The wePowder roadtrip The 2010-2011 season was a La Nina season. Normally that means above average snowfall in large parts of North America. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect time to hop over the pond to roadtrip through the US and Canada?

We wanted to make a roadtrip a bit different than a regu-

Snow may be white both in the European Alps and North

lar one. In our opinion, we managed to do that. In over

America, the moments you’ll remember most during

two weeks time, we’ve driven 4500 kilometers, visited

roadtrips are unexpected experiences and new friends

ten different resorts, experienced all sorts of snow (from

you meet along the way.

deep powder to wet slush) and temperatures from plus 15 till minus 35 Celsius, but above all, we enjoyed mem-

To give you a strong advice: get on a plane and enjoy the

orable moments with a lot of remarkable people.

powder in the US and Canada!

Our roadtrip started in Seattle, Washington and ended in Salt Lake City, Utah. While driving those 4500 k’s, we visited the following resorts:

Crystal Mountain (WA) Mt. Baker (WA) Whistler Blackcomb (BC) Red Mountain (BC) Whitewater (BC) Fernie (BC) Jackson Hole (WY) Powder Mountain (UT) Snowbird (UT) Snowbasin (UT) 6



Canada 6




USA Seattle



8 10 9

Salt Lake City

San Francisco


15 days 18 hours 55 minutes 34 seconds and 2796 miles or 4500 kilometers




INDEX wePowder icons



wePowder uses icons to characterize a skiresort or skihill. They will enable you to

The trip

get a quick overview of a ski area. There

The road trip of wePowder

are five icons that define the area.

Crystal Mountain


Mt. Baker



An icon will be used when it’s really char-

Whistler-Blackcomb 16

acteristic for an area. An exception is the

Travelling 18

glacier icon, that will always be used

Red Mountain

when a glacier is part of the ski area.

Whitewater 22


Fernie 26 Travelling 28 No trees


Ski hill

Jackson Hole




Ski resort

Powder Mountain



Snowbird 36 Snowbasin 38 Partir c’est mourir un peu

We rate all areas on the following subjects

The guide

as well:

Culture and history of skiing in the USA and Canada

costs (is it expensive or cheap to be here?), accommodation (is it easy to find last-minute accommodation in or

nearby the area?) untracked (how fast does the area gets tracked?) overview (is it easy to spot lines if you’re not familiar with the area?)


Ski resorts, ski hills and powder hounds


Where to go


When to go


Getting there


Getting around


Accommodation 62 Costs 64 Safety 66 Cat- & Heliskiing/boarding


The wrap-up 72

Red Mountain

We rate the areas with a score between 1 and 3. More icons means that a resort is more expensive, it’s easier to find accommodation, the area gets tracked really fast and it’s easy to spot your lines.



1. Crystal Mountain

Altitude: 1192-2137 m - Average snowfall p/s: 932 cm 3

www.crystalmountainresort.com 5

Canada 6




USA Seattle


Sunday, February 20th


Travelling in the morning 8

Distance Seattle Tacoma International Airport – Crystal Mountain: 69 miles/1,5 hour

10 9

Salt Lake City Denver

San Francisco

The resort Crystal Mountain is the largest resort in the state of Washington. Based on the foot of Mt. Rainier you’ll find about 2600 acres and over 59 slopes of white stuff to






enjoy. Interesting parts of the

Even though Crystal Moun-

Conditions & Impressions

resort are the bowls you can

tain is one of the most popu-

After we got rid of our jet lag

reach from Northway Peak,

lar resorts in Washington, it’s

(Amsterdam – Seattle is a

like Morning Glory Bowl and

never really crowded. You’ll

long way folks!) we’re driving

Pulker’s Gulch, where you’ll

only find yourself in a lift line

to Crystal Mountain in about

find nice gladed runs. At the

during holidays and some

1 ½ hour. As we’re here the

other end of the resort you

weekends, but if you’re used

day before President’s day,

can traverse into Campbell-

to lift lines in Europe, it’s like

the parking lot is relatively

and Avalanche Basin from

waiting for a red signal at an

busy with skiers and boarders

the top of the High Campbell

intersection compared with

enjoying their long weekend.

chairlift. An avalanche beacon

a 10 kilometre traffic jam.

It hasn’t snowed for a cou-

and a little hike are necessary

Because you’re not waiting in

ple of days and as a result

if you want to get into South-

line at the lifts and therefore

everything inbounds is com-

back Country, but you’ll have

riding more, have a beer at

pletely tracked. Despite the

a good chance to be rewarded

the Bullwheel at the end of

lack of fresh pow it’s easy to

with some untracked snow.

the day. You won’t regret it.

see the potential of Crystal

Crystal Mountain

After an hour of skinning we’re getting our first North American faceshots of the trip! It is the best way to instantly get rid of our jetlag! Mountain. With some help

stayed in an hotel near the

from local Tyler Ceccanti we

airport. For less than $50 we

Travelling in

find some nice pitches with

got ourselves a room with two

the evening

untracked powder. After an

kingsize beds and all the other


hour of skinning we’re get-

things you need during a stay

Places to go

Mountain -

ting our first North American

in an hotel. If you want to save

Like every other resort in


faceshots of the trip! It is the

some money on accommoda-

North America, Crystal Moun-

171 miles

best way to instantly get rid

tion you can easily find cheap

tain gets tracked fast. Make

3,5 hours

of our jetlag! The beer in the

motels along the interstates.

sure you’re in time on a pow-

Bullwheel tastes very sweet.

According to European stand-

der day! You’ll find some new

Unfortunately we can’t stay

ards, you get real value for

glades from the top of North-

any longer. On the road again

money and in our case, great

way Chair. There are different

and on our way to Belling-

service by our Mexican friend

‘gates’ where you can duck

ham, on our way to Mt. Baker.

Cortez of the RedRoof Inn. It’s

into the trees. You’ll also find

also possible to stay in Crystal

some nice terrain in South-


Mountain at the base of the

back Country. The bowls of

We arrived at SeaTac Int. Air-

resort. RV’s are welcome as

nachos at the Bullwheel are

port in the evening, so we

well at Crystal.

nice and huge! 13

2. Mount Baker

Altitude: 1067-1551 m - Average snowfall p/s: 1643 cm www.mtbaker.us



Canada 6




USA Seattle


Monday, February 21st

Travelling in the morning


Bellingham – Mt. Baker: 56 miles/1,5 hour 8 10 9

Salt Lake City Denver

San Francisco

The resort

find nice treeruns and bowls

Tahoe with its all-terrain tires

Mt. Baker is perhaps one of

everywhere. You can score

obviously has difficulties on

the most iconic ski areas in

beautiful lines inbounds, but

the last part of the road to

Washington. At the foot of the

the out-of-bounds potential is

Mt. Baker. It’s snowing hard

volcano they get lots of snow

endless. It’s one of the reasons

and the road gets whiter

every winter, and we mean

that Baker is very popular with

and whiter. Fortunately we

LOTS of snow. Baker holds

film crews. The backcountry is

the record for most snow in a

open as long as you follow the

season: up to 29 meters came

rules. Check the backcountry

down in ‘98-’99 season. The

policy of Mt. Baker at their

average snowfall per season

website (www.mtbaker.us).

is 16.3 meters. Not bad. Eight


chairlifts (without a safety-

Conditions & Impressions

bar and all fixed grip) give

On the way to Mt. Baker

access to a ski area that will

we are confronted with the

mostly appeal to advanced

limitations of our rental car

skiers and boarders. You can

for the first time. The Chevy





At the end of the day the conclusion is clear: this is an area where we all could be for a month or longer!

reach the parking lot without

we all could be for a month or

If there’s one day that you

too many problems. Today it


should be in Baker (besides

snows all day and there are no

after each heavy dump) is the

queues at the lifts. First, we


day when the Banked Slalom

blast inbounds through the

Mt. Baker has no accommo-

is organized. This snowboard

tracked terrain and from the

dation at the ski area. The

event takes place in Baker

top of Chair 8 we immerse into

nearest hotels are located in

since 1985 and attracts partic-

the backcountry. Because of

Glacier, which is about half an

ipants from across the country

the heavy snowfall, it is dif-

hour drive away. We stayed

and abroad. It started as a race

ficult to exploit the vast po-

in Bellingham, the town situ-

and defined the soul of snow-

Travelling in

tential of Baker, but between

ated at the bay. From Belling-

boarding. The winner goes off

the evening

the trees there is some nice

ham it is an one and half hour

with the “Duct Tape Trophy ....

Mt. Baker –

powder and in between the

drive. Again we had a motel

and eternal fame, of course”.

North Van-

snow showers we can ski a bit

along the interstate for only

couver: 85

more of the vast terrain. At the

$40 a night.

mijl/1,5 uur

end of the day the conclusion is clear: this is an area where

(excl. Boarder

Places to go

control) 15

3. Whistler Blackcomb Altitude: 675- 2284 m - Average snowfall p/s: 1000 cm www.whistlerblackcomb.com

The resort

Mountain, the Peak Chair is

Whistler is the C a nBlackcomb ada

the must-do. After a dump it

largest resort in North Ameri-

seems that almost everybody

ca and winner of many awards

throws themselves of the

as ‘best ski resort’. The fact

cliffs! If that’s too intense then

that many sports USAof the Olym-

you’ll find your way to one of

pic Winter Games of Vancou-

the twenty three bowls or gla-

ver took place in Whistler, has

ciers. And that’s without even

only brought more fame to the

mentioning the great nightlife

resort. And it must be said. The

and events! Whistler is a place

mountains are big, the village

which every skier and boarder

is bustling and the atmosphere

should’ve visited at least once

Travelling in the morning

7 is great. Blackcomb Mountain

in their lives.

North Vancouver – Whistler: 119

is the most challenging moun-

kilometers/1,5 hour (back to the

tain, with lots of backcountry

Conditions & Impressions

metric system)

opportunities on the glaciers 8

The Sea to Sky Highway from

10 but also with many inbounds

Vancouver to Whistler is a


5 4





Tuesday, February 22nd



options, including lines from Salt Lake City

spectacular road, so the drive

Spanky’s Ladder. On Whistler

is already an experience in itDenver

self. Whistler is close to being the perfect resort. Fast lifts, great terrain, beautiful back-

San Francisco

country: the resort seems to have anything. Everything gets tracked really fast in Whistler, so after running a lap at Spanky’s Ladder, we started hiking the bootpack towards Blackcomb Glacier. After a one hour walk we


find an fine line where we


can leave our signatures in untracked snow. It remains


sunny all day, so we can get


the most out of the mountain. In the afternoon we have a beer in one of the friendliest pubs in Whistler, the Garibaldi Whistler

Lift Company. With great atmosphere, good beer and the chance that you bump into a pro, the GLC is a great place 16

to hang out. Since staying in Whistler is just above our budget and we also want to enjoy the nightlife of Vancouver, we leave Whistler with a big smile!

Accommodation In Whistler and Blackcomb you’ll find accommodation in every price range. Well, you won’t find any $40 motels, but all the accommodation is close to the lifts and you can enjoy all that Whistler has

On Whistler Mountain, the Peak Chair is the must-do. After a dump it seems that almost everybody throws themselves of the cliffs!

to offer: the après-ski, clubs, shops and and early lift ac-

Travelling in

cess. Want to smash some

the evening

money on real luxury? Stay in the Fairmont Chateau or the Four Seasons Hotel.

powder. You have to be there!

Mt. Baker –

The Garibaldi Lift Company is

North Van-

Places to go

a good place to share your

couver: 85

Every year, the season offi-

epic stories with your friends

mijl/1,5 uur

cially ends with the Whistler

after a day in the pow. There

(excl. Boarder

TELUS World Ski & Snow-

are many good restaurants in


board Festival. A week long

Whistler, but the line at Sushi

celebration on the mountain

Village is there for a reason.

and in the village, with events, contests and hopefully deep 17

Travelling 3


Canad 6




US Seattle


Wednesday, February 23rd

North Vancouver – Rossland: 619 km/8,5 hour



nomenal city. The

Cypress Mountain. Grouse 10 is the closest to the city and

truly superb loca-

here you have stunning view

tion, with the sea

of Vancouver. Salt

ancouver is a phe-

Lake City

on one side and the moun-


San Francisco

tains on the other, gives the

Yaletown is a nice neighbor-

city a unique identity. From

hood where you can find nice

downtown Vancouver you

restaurants and you party in

can reach three ski resorts

great clubs. So it’s a miracle

within half an hour: Grouse

we are all quite fresh in the

Mountain, Mt. Seymour and

car. We have to drive a lot of


kilometers today. Rossland

If you’re used to densely

still well in time for the Punk

in the interior of BC is the

populated Europe, the road

Rock Bingo at The Shovel.


to Rossland is a relief. Few

Here they serve great burg-

villages and stunning views

ers, one of the best we had

After Hope begins ‘the big

are like driving through a

so far. And on top of the great

nothing’. We are happy that

no man’s land. Delayed by

burger, one of us also wins a

we have bought snow chains

strong snowfall we arrive in

pair of gloves! As the snow

in Hope for our Tahoe, be-

Rossland pretty late. It’s a

continues to fall, tomorrow

cause it will keep snowing all

nice ‘town’ with a small and

promises to be a good pow-

day and the road to Rossland

tight knit community. We’re

der day. Let´s fire it up at Red

is still long.

a little later than planned, but

Mountain! 19

4. Red Mountain

Altitude: 1186-2073 m - Average snowfall p/s: 760 cm www.redresort.com



Canada 6




USA Seattle


Thursday, February 24th

Travelling in the morning


Rossland – Red Mountain: 3 kilometers/5 minutes 8 10 9

Salt Lake City Denver


Paradise Chair, you can ride

to the Motherlode Chair that

nice gladed runs with names

brings us to the summit of

like “Powder Fields’. Actually,

Granite Mountain. Guide Ja-

you could ride Granite Moun-

son shows us one of his stash-

tain on any side with beauti-

es between the trees, offering

ful tree runs with pillows and

face shots all the way down.

nice little cliffs. Besides the

Not bad for a first run at Red.

inbound’s potential, Granite

Jason moved to Rossland wih

The resort

Mountain is also the starting

his girlfriend a few years ago

Red Mountain Resort has five

point for great tours up to Mt.

and does not expect he will

lifts and a total of 88 slopes.

Robberts and Grey Mountain.

ever leave. “It is a paradise on

Although the origins of the re-

In short, Red Mountain is a

earth. People here perhaps

sort are located on Red Moun-

treerun paradise!

work harder, but we get more

Red Mountain rates





tain, you´ll find the most chal-

in return”. This certainly ap-

lenging descents on Granite

Conditions & Impressions

plies to the hike to Mt. Rob-

Mountain (2075 meters). The

Hell yeah! Powder day! You

berts. After about one hour

area can at best be described

will hear loud cheers as the

hiking (on a very relaxed boot

by great tree runs with a con-

Silver Lode Chair begins to ro-

pack) the reward is a fine line

sistent slope angle. From the

tate. Everyone goes directly

of powder that’s preserved

well in the shade. A lot of ver-

Places to go

tical with dry powder! Back in

The place to be in Rossland is

Red we end up in the parking

the Flying Steam Shovel. It is

lot with big smiles all over our

a historic place,with good food

faces. Meanwhile, the tem-

(mmm, that Shovel Burger)

perature dropped to minus

and entertainment. A perfect

thirty, time to drive to Nelson!

place to drink a beer and have dinner after a day in the pow-



You can stay at the slopes of Red Mountain, but you’ll find the best atmosphere in Rossland. In this classic ski town you will find a nice community of people who chose to live in the mountains. We stayed at the Mountain Shadow Hostel for $ 25 per person per night. In the hostel you will instantly

It is a paradise on earth. PEOPLE here perhaps work harder, but we get more in return.

Travelling in the evening Red Mountain

contact other skibums and you

– Nelson:

can instantly arrange a ride to

83 kilom-

the lifts. Have your breakfast

eters/1,5 hour

across the street.


5. Whitewater

Altitude: 1417-2040 m - Average snowfall p/s: 775 cm www.skiwhitewater.com





4 2



Friday, February 25th

Travelling in the morning


Nelson – Whitewater: 16 kilometers/20 minutes 8 10 9

Salt Lake City Denver






The resort

up vast terrain. Whitewater is

shows temperatures below

Whitewater is the ski resort of

known for its dry powder, and

minus thirty. Fortunately, the

Nelson, BC. Nelson is a laid-

it receives about 40 feet (about

sun is shining and we start

back, relaxed and fairly liberal

12 meters) per year. There are

searching for untracked pow-

town on Kootenay Lake, with

beautiful bowls and steep

derfields. That’s quite difficult

plenty to do. There’s no ac-

tree runs, but there’s also a

inbounds (as in: everything is

commodation in Whitewater,

true atmosphere of skiing and

tracked), but with some help

but only one daylodge and

snowboarding. In Whitewater

of the skipatrol, we make a

three lifts. The three lifts are

the days revive when commer-

nice skin track that will defi-

in a beautiful setting and open

cialism wasn’t penetrating the

nitely bring us some freshies.

mountains, but when it was still

After nearly two hours we are

about the riding. People come

on top of a ridge. The sun is set-

here for skiing and snowboard-

ting and shines its surreal light

ing, and nothing else. The at-

on the mountain. After the first

mosphere is unique and you

turn we get a big smile on our

have to experience it yourself

face. Fresh powder. And that

to understand it.

for about 800 vertical meters. We ride down to the parking


Conditions & Impressions

lot. This must be the feeling

It’s another cold day in the

that Whitewater is known for.

mountains. The thermometer

In the end it’s all about the rid-

People come here for skiing and snowboarding, and nothing else. ing. Totally happy we have a

is always good in Nelson, es-

beer in Nelson. Then it’s time

pecially during the Coldsmoke

to follow the upcoming storm

Powder Fest!

on its way to Fernie!

Travelling in the evening Whitewater – Fernie: 326


kilometers/4 hours and 15

You can not stay in Whitewa-


ter overnight, but there’s plenty of accommodation in nearby Nelson. As in Rossland you’ll get the most out of your stay in Nelson by staying in a hostel. We stayed at the White House Hostel for $ 25 withing walking distance of all pubs.

Places to go Mike’s Place in the Hume Hotel has a cozy bar with excellent pub food. The atmosphere 23


The atmosphere is unique and you have to experience it yourself to understand it.


6. Fernie

Altitude: 1195-1925 m - Average snowfall p/s: 875 cm www.skifernie.com

Ca n a d a





The resort

and the most “recent” ex-

Fernie is an old mining town

pansion of the area with the

in the Elk Valley. The lifts start

White Pass, Timber and the

from the Fernie Alpine Re-

recently opened Polar chairs.

sort, a few miles outside the

Fernie has five bowls that are

old town of Fernie. Because

overshadowed by the mighty

of the location of the Elk Val-

Lizard Range. From the bowls

ley, Fernie is a real snow mag-

you can reach some ridges

net. When it starts snowing in Saturday, February 26th, Sun-

Fernie, it can remain snowy

day, February 27th and Monday

for days and you’ll ride dry

February 28th

powder with the locals. Dur7

ing such days, most shops in the village close their doors.





where you van ride steep terrain, but in the bowls you can make it as easy (or difficult) as you want. The combination of a good atmosphere, enthusiastic locals, great powder and

Travelling in the morning

“Gone skiing, the 30 cm rule is

nice terrain makes Fernie a

Lizard Creek Lodge – Elk Chair: 50

in effect. Locals divide Fernie

must-ski destination!

meters/30 seconds

into two parts. You have the


10 9

Salt Lake City

‘old side’ with the Elk, Bear,

Conditions & Impressions

Boom and the Haul BackT-Bar

Wow, three days in Fernie and



three days of Fernie powder. Fortunately, it is not that cold, with temperatures around -15. The snow keeps falling and on Monday the pow is at least 80 centimeters deep. Everyone is stoked and with every turn you almost disappear in the snow. The Griz, the local snow god, has done a good job. During snowfall it’s always great skiing between the trees and we lap Morning Glory Glades over and over again. Not a lot of people ski here, so we find some nice untracked fields. We continue to lap Siberia and get faceshot after faceshot till the lifts close. It’s time for a beer in the Griz Bar. At the

and the Griz Bar you will get

end of the day we conclude

rooms the size of a hockey

that Fernie is ‘a very nice play-

pitch. The outdoor pool over-

ground for adults’. The locals

looking the slopes and the Liz-

are friendly and love to take

ard Range is attractive at

you to their “secret stashes”.

night. Staying in the Lizard

The locals know that they live

Creek Lodge is the icing on

in a special place and truly

the cake of our stay in Fernie.

The combination of a good atmosphere, enthusiastic locals, great powder and nice terrain makes Fernie a must-ski destination!

enjoy this. It’s painful to leave Fernie after three days, though

Places to go

our next destination is not that

At the end of a powder day

Travelling in

bad either: Jackson Hole.

everyone gathers in the Griz

the evening

at the daylodge. There’s often

Fernie –


a good band, good parties and

Jackson Hole:

Both in the town and on the

always loads of fun. Locals of

977 kilom-

mountain there is enough ac-

all ages, freeriders, freesty-

eters/14 hours

commodation that suits every

lers and ‘ordinary’ tourists

wallet. The Raging Elk Hostel

provide a unique atmosphere.

Fernie is a nice budget place,

An atmosphere that can best

but if you have more to spend

be described as: Enjoy the

than the Lizard Creek Lodge is

mountains! In the town of

a great choice. On crawling

Fernie you’ll find more fun in

distance of the lifts, slopes

the hotels and ‘The Pub’. 27





stronger and stronger. When


we cross the border into

leave early on

Montana we can’t decide

Monday morn-

what to do. Sleeping? Con-

ing in Fernie. Jackson Hole

tinue driving? Meanwhile,

is the next destination, and

the road dissapears. Any-

that’s about eleven hours

way, in Europe we do this

away. As it just kept on

every winter (drive all night

dumping in Fernie, plans

to get to the Alps), so we de-

changed and we decided to

cide to keep on driving.



shred some pow with the locals another day instead of

After four 15-inch pizzas in

Travelling in

a day on the road. After a

Kalispell we drive away into

the morning

great day with faceshots, we

the night. The road is no

Fernie –

left Fernie at about six pm.

longer distinguishable from the roadside. Slalomming

Teton Village (Jackson

But it doesn’t stop snowing.

through all the deer at 30


The intensity and frequency

miles per hour isn’t the right

977 km/14

with which the flakes are fall-

speed to get to Jackson in


ing from the sky is getting

time. There is an oncoming


Ca n a d a 6

car. On our lane. Signals. Signals. Signals again. Only at the last moment the car



deviates to the right. Maybe

snowing and the road is clear.

we should stop driving?

Haas speeds up in order to make up for lost time. It is now

After a couple of hours delay

3.00 AM.

we reach the interstate to


Monday night February, 28th and Tuesday morning March, 1st 28

Salt Lake City

8 10 9

Missoula. It’s still dumping,

Blue and red lights behind us.

but at least this is one straight

“Is that for us?” Haas askes.

road. At a gas station we get

“Think about it,” I reply, “the

some drinks and snacks and

last half hour I have not seen

our Tahoe gets some fresh

other cars. How fast are

gallons. A state trooper looks

you driving?“.”Ninety-five,”

at the whole scene. Haas

Haas answers, “I’ll keep

takes the wheel and we con-

on driving, maybe it’s for

tinue our drive south. It stops

someone else. Two minutes


Blue and red lights behind us. “Is that for us?” Haas askes. “Think about it,” I reply, “the last half hour I have not seen other cars.

later, an agitated trooper


stands quite irritated at our

A meatball sandwich with three meatballs tastes great

window. “What took you

Morris and Bart are sleeping in

early in the morning. At 8.00

so long to pullover?” With

the back and it’s almost 5.00

am we’re at the parking lot

a mea culpa that we’re just

am. To get a motel and sleep

at Teton Village. Our friends

simple Europeans we try to

for a couple of hours is use-

from Salomon are waiting for

apologize. “Where are you

less. If we continue driving,

us. “Come on guys! Let’s

guys going?” “Jackson” The

we’ll make it right in time for

have a coffee and start ski-

trooper replies: “Guys, Jack-

the lifts to open. At 7:00 AM

ing! “. Two hours later we are

son will still be there if you

we cross Teton Pass. Eve-

halfway on the hike to Cody

drive 75!” Eventually he lets

ryone wakes up and we are

Peak. Welcome to Jackson!

us get away with an official

glad that we ordered some

warning. “Save your money

take away sandwiches at

for Jackson guys. Enjoy the

the pizzeria the night before. 29

Canada 6

7.USA Jackson Hole

Altitude: 1924-3185- Average snowfall p/s: 1143 cm www.jacksonhole.com



The resort

in Teton Village, resort-style,

“Jackson, I want to go to Jack-

but built with charm. The lo-

son.” There are few resorts

cals are pretty hardcore and

that get as many credits as

the Jackson Hole Air Force

Jackson Hole. The opening

is just legendary. Every self

of the legendary tram in 1966

respecting skier and boarder

has been the birth of a legend.

must have been here. Period.

There are many films made

10 9

Salt Lake City

Tuesday, March 1st & Wednesday, March 2nd

about Jackson, and not only because Teton Gravity is loDenver

cated there. No resort in North America can match the quality of the terrain of Jackson Hole.

Conditions & Impressions


The sun is shining in Jackson.


The terrain is fairly tracked, but the guys from Salomon take


us right into the backcountry.

Travelling in the morning

Inbounds you can find classics

Parking Lot Teton Village – Jackson

such as the S & S Couloir and

as well (make sure to be at

Hole Tram: 100 meters/one minute

Corbets. In the backcountry,

the Tram at 7 am on a powder

the headwall is known from

day), but the lines you can ride

many movies and there are

are phenomenal, including the

many lines to ride. Jackson

magnificent valley views. Dur-

Hole is a cozy and authentic

ing the two days we have skied

cowboy town with much his-

in Jackson, we have probably

tory. The ski area is located

skied less than half percent of

It’s pretty much tracked there


the potential. Of course, we took some time to ride Corbets Couloir. It’s one of the most famous inbound couloirs in the world and of the “landmarks” of Jackson. The entrance is the most difficult and depending on snow conditions ranging

Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole



Jackson Hole

We unanimously agree that we have to stay in “The Big One” longer once because the potential is really amazing.

from ‘easy’ to ‘yeah, that’s not a

away in Jackson itself, which

experienced Corbets and the

bunny hill’. We found some sort

obviously is cheaper than

backcountry (hire a guide for

of corkscrew that launched you

Teton Village. We were lucky

the latter!). There’s great food

into the couloir. A free fall of a

that we could crash with our

at the Japanese guys in Teton

few meters, turning in the air

French friends in the luxury of

Village. There are nice shops

and then hope that your edges

the Snake River Lodge, within

in Jackson Hole itself, such as

will hold on the hard pack, oth-

walking distance of the tram.

Moo’s Gourmet where they

erwise the yardsale will start in

And quite honestly, after a

serve the best milkshakes and

about two seconds. After 17

night of not sleeping and one

ice cream ever.

years I can finally remove Cor-

day of riding in Jackson, the

bets from my hit list. We unani-

spa was very nice. When you

mously agree that we would

stay in Jackson, you can use

like to stay in “The Big One”

the shuttle buses that run be-

longer, because the potential is

tween Teton and Jackson.

really amazing.

Places to go

Travelling in


In Jackson Hole, there are

the evening

There is accommodation in


Jackson Hole –

all shapes and sizes at the

should go. If your into hiking

Salt Lake City:

bottom of the lifts in Teton

and touring, Teton Pass is the

273 miles/5

Village, but also a few miles

place to be. You must have






A free fall of a few meters, turning in the air and then hope that your edges will hold on the hard pack, otherwise the yardsale will start in about two seconds.



Jackson Hole


8. Powder Mountain

Altitude: 2316-2712 m - Average snowfall p/s: 1270 cm www.powdermountain.com 7

8 10 9

Salt Lake City Denver

Thursday, March 3rd & Saturday 5th

Travelling in the evening Parking Lot Teton Village – Jackson Hole Tram: 100 meters/one minute






The resort

Emerald Chair you can dive

up north to Powder Moun-

Powder Mountain is about a

into Powder Country. Lots of

tain (which we scheduled as

half hour drive from Ogden.

powder turns later you end up

well on Saturday). The road

The name says it all: “They

on a road, where the Powder

is closed due to avalanche

do not call it groomer moun-

Mountain bus will pick you up

danger. At least it’s snowing

tain.” Four chairlifts access a

and drop you off at the lifts. A

up here! With a few hours

large ski area with many possi-

must-do is a ride in the snow-

delay we drive up to the day-

bilities. The terrain in Powder

cat. For $15 the cat drops you

lodge. The snow is heavy for

Mountain is not very steep,

of at Lightning Ridge. You can

Utah standards, but it is knee

making it great for laidback

hike up to James Peak from

deep and we ride through

rides through the trees. Pow-

there, but you can ski down

the trees below the Paradise

der Mountain has no fancy

into the valley as well.

Chair in nice mellow terrain.

daylodges or expensive ac-

The rest of the afternoon is

commodation. The daylodge

Conditions & Impressions

filled with ripping the area of

is quite old and resembles a

According to the weather

Powder Country. The runs

large football canteen. It’s all




are nice, but the atmos-

about the skiing and board-


the Cottonwood

phere while waiting for the

ing, that’s for sure. Powder

Canyons, so resorts like

traditional school bus is even

Mountain is unique because

Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and

more fun. In the evening we

of two unique features. From

Brighton aren’t that interest-

have a beer in the cozy main

the top of the Sundown or the

ing today, so we drive back

street of Ogden, which used


The snow is heavy for Utah standards, but it is knee deep and we ride through the trees below the Paradise Chair in nice mellow terrain. to be a Sodom and Gomor-

in Ogden, and ending our trip

rah decades ago, but is now

in style!

Travelling in the evening

one of the outdoor capitals

Places to go


When you visit Powder Moun-

Hole – Salt


tain you should definitely ride

Lake City: 273

Powder Mountain has no

Powder Country and ride

miles/5 hours



the snowcat up to Lightning

There is something to be found

Ridge. These are the gems of

in the small village of Eden at

the area. In Ogden, there are

the bottom of the mountain,

plenty of nice bars and res-

but you should stay in Ogden.

taurants at 25th Street, such

Here you’ll find plenty to do

as Brewski’s and Roosters.

at night, there are good res-

Try to read about the history

taurants and you have much

of Ogden itself as well. The



city that was too intense for

Because we’ll ride at Snow-

gangster boss Al Capone has

bird the next day, we book a

an impressive past.

of the world.


motel in Cottonwood Heights, but we are really looking forward to staying at the Marriott 35


9. Snowbird

Altitude: 2364-3352 m - Average snowfall p/s: 1270 cm www.snowbird.com 7

8 10 9

Salt Lake City Denver

Friday, March 4th

Travelling in the morning Cottonwood Heights – Snowbird: 12 miles/28 minutes

Snowbird rates





The resort

Mineral Basin at the other.

even have time to take our

‘The Bird’ is one of the two

Here you can traverse to the

touring gear into the LCC.

resorts (with Alta) in the Lit-

Bookends or you can jump

tle Cottonwood Canyon. The

over to neighbour Alta (ski-

Conditions & Impressions

area is known for its snow.

ers only). At the top of the

We are lucky. Our friends at

The dry powder is driven into

Baldy Express there’s the in-

Black Diamond have invited

the canyon by the “lake ef-

terconnect with the ski re-

us to join them for first tram

fect”. Snowbird annually re-

sort of Alta. You get the most

at the Bird with skipatrol. It’s

ceives about 500 inches of

out of Snowbird if you have

early, but we’re in the tram by

white gold. The tram takes

some experience in your

7.30. It’s cold, but the sun is

you to an altitude of 11,000 ft

legs. Inbounds, you can find

shining and there’s about 20

and from here you have many

very challenging terrain and

centimeters of fresh powder.

options. You can ski the

with small hikes there are

For two great runs, we have

steeps of the Peruvian on

also beautiful things to ride

the whole resort to ourselves.

one side, or you can dive into

out-of-bounds. And we don’t

After that, the first commer-


You get the most out of Snowbird if you have some experience in your legs.

cial first-tracks trams arrive.

wood Heights. The advantage

plenty to do. If you’re into

By that time we have already

of staying in Snowbird is that

3,5% beer and the Bible a visit

left our marks in Mineral Basin.

you’re directly near the lifts.

to the temple of the Mormons

In the afternoon we find some

It’s only half an hour drive from

is an idea. When the Utah Jazz

Travelling in

powder in the Peruvian Gulch.

Salt Lake City, but it some-

plays a home game, it will cost

the evening

All the terrain that doesn’t re-

times happens that the road

you only $25 to see these

Snowbird -

quire any hiking gets tracked

to Snowbird and Alta is closed

NBA giants play. Now that’s a

Ogden: 64

fast, so you better come early.

because it has been dumping

bit different from the Austrian

miles/1,5 hours

The best place to have a beer

too hard. In that case you’re

après-ski experience!

is in the Goldminer’s Daugh-

lucky if you stay in Snowbird!

ter, in the nearby resort of Alta.

Places to go Accommodation

Snowbird has awesome ter-

Snowbird has some ski-in,

rain, but we just loved the

ski-out accommodation, but

Bookends. The area of Mt.

unless you’ve got a lot of

Baldy is great as well. The vil-

money to burn, don’t stay at

lage itself isn’t exactly bustling

the resort. We slept in a sim-

with action, but if you are stay-

ple Super 8 Motel in Cotton-

ing in Salt Lake City there’s 37


10. Snowbasin

Altitude: 1935-2838 m - Average snowfall p/s: 1016 cm www.snowbasin.com 7

8 10 9

Salt Lake City Denver

Sunday, March 4th

Travelling in the morning Ogden – Snowbasin: 20 miles/ 34 minutes Snowbasin


The resort

lodge. Nowhere you get so

Utah on days like this, you can

Snowbasin has the same

much luxury for the price of

ride powder in Snowbasin all

owner as Sun Valley in Idaho

your lift pass. As an added

day without efforts such as

and has hosted the downhill

bonus, you can even ski down

hiking or skinning. It is wonder-

skiing during the Olympic

to Ogden - snow conditions

fully peaceful. We ride deep

Games in Salt Lake City in

permitting - from the top of

powder through the trees of

2002. This has been the rea-

the tram! Be sure you ski

Mt. Ogden Bowl and the No

son to invest heavily in the

down with someone who

Name Peak. Everyone gets

resort and the results are

knows the terrain very well.

some on this last day. It keeps snowing all day and when the

mindblowing. Although not accommodation




as well known as the resorts

Conditions & Impressions

days ends, we’re all okay with

in the Cottonwood Canyons

It’s the last day of our trip and

the end of the trip. Thank you

and Park City, Snowbasin is a

the contrast could not be any

Snowbasin for ending in style

large and varied resort with

bigger. From the ‘football can-

with a great powder day!

high speed lifts and beautiful

teen “in Powder Mountain to

terrain. The most salient are

a five-star lodge in Snowbasin.


the lavish daylodge and res-

What luxury! Our boots sink

Snowbasin has no slopeside

taurants on the mountain.

into the thick carpet while we

accommodation. The most ob-



wait for our guide. It’s snow-

vious option is to stay in Ogden.

chandeliers and huge fire-

ing. It’s snowing hard and

We had the luxury of staying at

places, they look more like

where you really have to be

the Marriott, a nice hotel in the

medieval castles or old-boys

sure you get there in time in

heart of Ogden. They even

clubs than your average day-

the more popular resorts in

have a chair lift in the lobby!



And it is very relaxing to chill in the pool or gym after a powderday. From the Marriott it’s

Travelling in

close to the bars and pubs of

the evening

the historic main street.

Snowbasin – Ogden:

Places to go One



20 miles/34




shouldn’t miss if you ride one day at Snowbasin is the Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville. It is the oldest bar in Utah (since 1879) and little has changed since then. This is where the history of the Ogden region comes to life. With banknotes from around the world on the ceiling, stuffed animals (even a St. Bernard) on the wall and

From the ‘football canteen “in Powder Mountain to a five-star lodge in Snowbasin. What a luxury! Our boots sink into the thick carpet while we wait for our guide.

good burgers (especially the Starburger!), this is where you go if you really want a local experience! 39

Partir, c’est mourir un peu

Travelling in the morning Ogden – Salt Lake City International Airport: 39 miles/50 minutes


ometimes it’s very hard to

things that are important for you as a

unclick your bindings for

freerider. Things like costs, accommo-

the last time. The knowl-

dation, lift passes, transportation and

edge that the last run of

much more.

the trip has ended sometimes makes

In our opinion, an important part of

me emotional. It feels like all the beau-

the experience of the trip is to know

tiful moments of a trip come together

a little bit about the history of skiing

in that click. And there were more than

in North America.

enough of that moments during the trip we made in North America.

We hope you will get some ideas out of this wePowder Essential and that it

And so it feels strange to leave those

will help you plan your trip to North

good times behind us and get on the


plane to fly to Europe (which fortunately lasted a little longer because we had booked a flight that no longer existed). The last part of our road trip consisted mainly of reliving those moments, but also making new plans. Because the grass isn’t greener on the other side, but obviously it’s very nice to have some fresh grass with a little different taste. And to help you get out there as well, we decided to write down all our experiences. So you already get an idea how to start your own road trip. We made a list of all the


Stay stoked AND keep on riding!


best spots best couloirs

Jackson Hole Whistler Fernie

Best small resort

Whitewater Red Mountain

Powder Mountain

Best treeruns

Red Mountain Whistler Fernie

Best terrain

Jackson Hole Whistler


Best vibe

Whistler Jackson Hole Fernie





or many skiers and snowboarders riding in the United States or Canada is a dream. Endless slopes filled with powder. Helicopters flying you to the highest peaks. And by hearing names like Aspen, Vail and Whistler the heart of every avid

rider beats faster. If I ever could ride there once.... ‘Waist deep blower all day every day’. It is time to live the American Dream. But... you’ll have to do something for that. And with the fulfillment of every dream it’s essential that you properly tackle your dream, so you can get the maximum out of it. So it actually becomes the fulfillment of a dream and does not result in a nightmare.

History and culture

North America even more. Just like

Like Europe, North America also has

Chamonix and St. Anton am Arlberg

a nice ski history. A little bit of histor-

in Europe breathe much history, you

ical awareness on the development

can also find this in some areas in

of winter sports in North America

the United States and Canada. And

will help you appreciate your time in

so here is a step back in time.





first time in the United States.

have been skiing

Lake Placid is the location,

in the U.S. and

but alpine skiing isn’t on the

Canada from the

agenda yet. In the same year,

mid 19th century, it was not of-

the first skilift (a rope) opens in

ficial until 1905. In Ishpeming,

Shawbridge, Quebec.

Michigan, the National Championships were organized and the

They don’t have to hike up

National Ski Association (now

anymore In Utah since 1936.

the U.S. Ski and Snowboard

The ski club of Brighton opens

Association) was founded.

the first rope in the Wasatch in that year. A little further north,

The German Otto Schniebs

in Sun Valley ,Idaho, they are

migrates to Massachusetts in

a little bit more serious. They open the first chairlift in the world that hangs high enough

Then the most difficult ski run in the U.S., the Roch Run, opens in 1941 in Aspen.

so you can ski under it. Skiing becomes more serious and it is time to install ski pa-

1927 and becomes the first

trol. The East is ahead in this

ski instructor who will teach

period and ski patrol starts in

the Arlberg technique in the

Stowe Mountain, Vermont in

US. Schniebs was quoted

1938. The first chairlift in Utah

about 80 years later in the

opens in Alta in 1938. The lift

film “The Waiting Game” by

iss built from materials that

Wink Inc. “Skiing is a way of

they used in the mines and is

life”. In that aspect, not much

funded by businessmen from


Salt Lake City. It takes two more years until the famous





Alta Lodge opens. The largest

lomew skis more than 480

mountain in California, Mam-

km through the High Sierras

moth Mountain opens its first

in California. He roughly fol-

lift (still a rope though) in the

lows the route now known as

same year.

the John Muir Trail. Along the way he climbs Mt. Whitney,

Then the most difficult ski

the highest mountain in the

run in the U.S., the Roch Run,

lower 48’s, for the first time

opens in 1941 in Aspen. The

in the winter.

Second World War understandably has a negative im-


In 1932 the Olympic Winter

pact on the development of

Games are organized for the

ski areas, but in 1946 Aspen

e droom

builds a new lodge and a chair-

U.S., Jackson Hole, Wyo-

lift aimed at a first-class target

ming opens in 1966. The fa-

group, something that hasn’t

mous “Tram” to Rendezvous

changed today.

Mountain is a fact (the tram get’s replaced in 2008 by a

In 1949, Mad River Glen (now-

more modern copy). In Jack-

adays one of the last three

son Hole the Austrian Josef

resorts where only skiers are

“Pepi” Stiegler is the head of

allowed) opens. Squaw Val-

the ski school, and he stands

ley, that is hosting the Olym-

at the base of the extreme ski

pics eleven years later, opens

culture of Jackson. Whistler

in 1949. Squaw, near Lake

opens in 1966.

Tahoe, California plays a leading role in the winter sports

The crisis of the late ‘70s and

in North America. Icons like

early ‘80s, however, makes a

Scott Gaffney and the late

turnaround. Nearly 20% of the ski areas disappear and large

Intrawest, Vail Resorts, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Aspen Skiing Co. are some big names who operate ski areas.

cooperations that exploit several ski areas form. Intrawest, Vail Resorts, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Aspen Skiing Co. are some big names

Anno 1950

who operate ski areas. It leads to a further professionalisation of the industry. Shane McConkey have their home in “Squallywood”. Although the Americans have bring many things from Europe, the first artificial snow is produced in Grossinger’s


in New York. That is in 1952.

De mens speelt met De natuur.

De eerste vierkante meter kunstsneeuw wordt

In those decades skiing be-

geproduceerd in Grossinger, New York.

comes more and more a sport



Het product wintersport

Waar is de passie?

for the middle class. Men as VerseSneeuw


John Jay, Warren Miller, Dick 26-10-2009 15:14:08

Durrance and Dick Barrymore travel through North America to promote the sport in the cinemas. Ski resorts grow and grow. One of the most exciting destinations in the 47


Red Mountain, Dave Heath

Eventhough the area appears commercial, onE thing’s for sure: There is lots of powder to RIDE!

Ski resorts, ski hills and powder hounds Ski resorts

Ski hills

This professionalism has led to

There are also ski hills. The main dif-

the formation of large ski resorts

ference with resorts is that the ski

with more than excellent facilities.

hills are non that commercial. Some

Famous resorts such as Whistler-

exist for public benefit. And in our

Blackcomb, Vail, Keystone and Lake

view that benefit is indispensable.

Louise are owned by the earlier men-

An area as Bridger Bowl (Montana)

tioned large corporations. There is

is an example of such a community

much invested in these areas and

hill. The lifts are a bit older (some-

therefore you’ll find state-of-the-art

times the lifts are occasions that are

lifts, fine restaurants and many oth-

bought from other resorts), the day

er amenities to ensure you can enjoy

lodges are less luxurious and there

a nice holiday. New resorts are still

is often little or no accommodation.

being developed. The small ski re-

But on the other hand, the lift passes

sort of Revelstoke recently changed

are a little bit cheaper. Best of all:

its name to Revelstoke Mountain

it does not mean that the mountain

Resort including a new gondola and

is less steep and the powder less

many new apartments.

deep. On these ski hills you can often


Red Mountain

still find the real skibums. Skiers and

thing within the circle will be checked

boarders who have given up every-

by ski patrol. In the U.S. and Canada

thing just to be in the mountains. An-

a lot of skiers and boarders therefore

other example of a community hill is

don’t ride with avalanche beacon,

Mad River Glen ski area in Vermont.

shovel and probe. Everyone aged

Anyone can be a shareholder of Mad

from 8 to 80 rides in the powder. It

River Glen. For $ 2,000 you are a

provides a unique atmosphere in the

shareholder in this small ski hill in

ski areas, as each area turns into a

the eastern part of the U.S..

freeride area after a good dump. Cheering people in the lifts, big

Powder hounds

smiles and of course a lot of compe-

However commercial a ski area

tition for fresh lines to ride. Of

might be, one thing is certain: peo-

course, in the area you still have to

ple ride a lot of powder. In North

deal with “natural hazards”, such as

America, the threshold to ride pow-

cliffs, other rocks, trees and more. It

der is much lower than in Europe.

is still a risk sport!

The ski patrol secures the entire ski area. This is indicated by a boundary. If you stay within this boundary, where the slopes are, you may assume that the ski patrol checks the whole area on avalanches. How this works? Imagine the ski area of Les Quatre Vallées in Switzerland. Draw a circle around the area and every-



Red Mountain

Everyone from 8 to 80 rides in the powder. It provides a unique atmosphere in the ski areas, as each area turns into a freeride area after a good dump.

Where to go The possibilities for skiing and boarding in the U.S. and Canada are almost endless. There are over 500 ski resorts in the U.S., but where do you go? Obviously, the best area is the area with the most powder, but you have to start somewhere. In the Salomon Powfinder for iPhone, for Android and on wePowder.com you’ll find a selection of ski areas in the U.S. and Canada, that are definitely worth a visit.

But the real adventurer gets into his car and

from Reno/Truckee or Salt Lake City, are in

sets up his own road trip. Follow the storm

most cases not longer than about one hour to

on your way to new experiences. To get you

several hours.

started you’ll find some suggestions for road Reno/Truckee: e.g. Squaw Valley, Kirkwood,

trips in North America.

Alpine Meadows, Heavenly, Mammoth. Some U.S. locations are perfect to stay for a

Salt Lake City: e.g. Alta, Snowbird, Bright-

whole week. Around cities like Reno, Salt Lake

on, Solitude, Park City, Canyons, Snowbasin,

City and Denver you can find world-class re-

Powder Mountain.

sorts. Of course you can stay in the ski areas

Denver: e.g. Aspen, Vail, Winterpark, Key-

themselves, but the distances to the ski areas

stone, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain.

10 days

12 days

20 days

20 days

*From Flames to Canucks

*The Powder Highway Plus

*The Coastal Connection

*Mormon to Montana

Start: Calgary

Start: Calgary

Start: Reno

Start: Salt Lake City

End: Vancouver

End: Calgary

End: Seattle

End: Bozeman

Distance: 1050 km

Distance: 1530 km

Distance: 2255 km

Distance: 1672 km

Resorts: Lake Louise,

Resorts: Fernie, White-

Resorts: Squaw Valley,

Resorts: Alta, Snowbird,

Sunshine, Kicking Horse,

water, Red Mountain,

Kirkwood, Mt. Shasta,

Park City, Snowbasin,

Revelstoke, Sun Peaks,

Panorama, Kicking Horse,

Mt. Hood, Mt. Bachelor,

Powder Mountain, Pebble


Lake Louise

Crystal Mountain, Alpen-

Creek, Sun Valley, Jack-

tal, Stevens Pass, Mt.

son Hole, Grand Targhee,


Big Sky, Moonlight Basin, Bridger Bowl.



Canada Vancouver

USA Seattle

Salt Lake City



San Francisco


When to go If you want to ride powder, you need fresh snow. Obviously, you’re best chance to ride powder is during or just after a storm, but you have to know where it will be snowing. North America is pretty big, and because of the size and shape of the mountain ranges, and because of meteorological laws, it won’t be snowing everywhere at the same time. With the right knowledge about the weather you know when and where the snow will fall. Not only you’ll ride more powder, but you’ll also develop a natural feeling for freshies. Next to the ‘regular’ storms there are two larger phenomenons that influence the winter in general in North America. Their called La Nina and El Nino, and alltough they don’t influence the winters in Europe, their impact in North America is significant.

La Nina and El Nino

How does it work?

La Nina and El Nino have their origins at the

During an El Nino year, North America has to

Pacific Ocean and are part of the ‘El Nino-

deal with a powerful jetstream from the west.

Southern Oscillation (ENSO) index. It’s one of

The polar jetstream is pushed up far north,

the many indexes scientists use to get more in-

giving way to warmer air from the south and

formation about the weather. During an El Nino

southwest. This ‘Pineapple Express’ will bring

period, the Pacific Ocean is warmer than nor-

rain and wet snow. It’s the difference between

mal, in particular at the equator and the coast

Whistler and Drizzler, between Mt. Baker Pow

of Peru. During a La Nina period the water is

and Mt. Baker Concrete. The opposite happens

much colder than normal in those regions. The

during a La Nina season. The polar jetstream

differences between cold and warm water are

brings in cold air from the north, and in the

so big, that they influence weatherpatterns all

meanwhile the subtropical jetstream brings in

over the world. If you want to ride powder in

humid air from the west. When those two jet-

North America, you’re better of with La Nina

streams collide, you’ll hit the jackpot. Extreme-

then El Nino.

ly cold air combined with extremely humid air

La Nina periods










will result in massive amounts of snow. That

warm rapidly which allows lake-effect precipi-

happened in the 2010/2011 season between

tation to occur from September through May.

October and December and later between

Lake-enhanced snowstorms are often attrib-

February and March. Matchstick Productions

uted to creating what is locally known as “The

called their 2011/2012 movie ‘ La Nina, the

Greatest Snow on Earth.”

bitch is back’ for a reason!

Lake-effect snow around the Great Salt Lake is generated in a similar fashion to elsewhere

When is it on?

in the world. For the Great Salt Lake, lake en-

After monitoring the impact of La Nina for

hanced precipitation occurs when a strong,

over 35 years scientist can tell that El Niño and

cold, northwesterly wind blows across a rela-

La Niña take place every three to five years,

tively warm lake. This is common after a cold

though there can be an interval between two

front passage, where the winds are predomi-

and seven years. According to the National

nantly northwesterly and the air is much colder

Centers for Environmental Prediction, this

than the lake. When the land-lake breeze blows

century’s previous La Niñas began in 1903,

towards the lake, there is a convergence zone

1906, 1909, 1916, 1924, 1928, 1938, 1950,

that acts to channel the cold air over the center

1954, 1964, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1988, and

of the lake and further enhance precipitation.

1995. These events typically continued into

The salinity of the Great Salt Lake prevents

the following spring. Since 1975, La Niñas

freezing but reduces the saturation vapor pres-

have been only half as frequent as El Niños.

sure and latent heat flux into the overlying air.

La Niña conditions typically last approximately

As a result, minimal amounts of moisture and

9-12 months. Some episodes may persist for

latent heat are added to the air moving over the

as long as two years.

lake. The Great Salt Lake primarily provides a lifting mechanism and acts as an atmospheric

Important weather phenomenons

destabilizer, which encourages convection.

Lake effect around Salt Lake

This is in contrast to the Great Lakes, where

The Great Salt lake never freezes and can

the lakes contribute significant amounts of








moisture and latent heat. The high relief of the

from the waters adjacent to the Hawaiian Is-

Keep in mind that

Wasatch mountains further capitalizes on lake

lands and extending to any location along the

there’s a time

enhancement and can receive multiple feet of

Pacific coast of North America. A Pineapple

difference of 6-10

snow from lake-effect alone.

Express is an example of an atmospheric river,

hours between the

A strong Northwesterly current maximizes

which is a more general term for such narrow

Europe and North

precipitation for the Salt Lake Valley.

corridors of enhanced water vapor transport

America. Give

A minimal temperature difference of 29 °F (16

at mid-latitudes around the world.

yourself some time

°C) {fact} between the surface and the 700

to adjust to that!

mbar (70 kPa) height is needed, but not nec-

The composition of moisture-laden air, at-

essarily sufficient in itself to cause lake-effect

mospheric dynamics, and orographic en-


hancement resulting from the passage of this

An inversion or stable layer below 700 mbar

air over the mountain ranges of the western

(70 kPa) has never yielded lake-effect snow.

coast of North America causes some of the

Lake-effect snow can occur in concert with

most torrential rains to occur in the region.

synoptic scale storm systems.

Pineapple Express systems typically generate

A large lake-land temperature difference fa-

heavy snowfall in the mountains and Interior

vors over-lake convergence.

Plateau, which often melts rapidly because of

Lake-effect is typically initiated during the

the warming effect of the system. After be-

night when land-breeze convergence is fa-

ing drained of their moisture, the tropical air

vored and convection occurs predominantly

masses reach the inland prairies as a Chinook

over the lake.

wind or simply “a Chinook”, a term which is

During the daytime lake-effect precipitation

also synonymous on the Coast with the Pine-

dissipates when solar heating creates scat-

apple Express.

tered widespread convection over the land. The 700 mbar winds typically determine the geographic position of the precipitation Limited amounts of directional and vertical wind shear tend to produce heavier precipitation events. The Great Salt Lake contributes minimal amounts of moisture so that upstream moisture is a crucial variable. Pineapple Express is a non-technical term for a meteorological phenomenon characterized by a strong and persistent flow of atmospheric moisture and associated heavy precipitation 56

Lizard Creek Lodge Located at Fernie Alpine Resort Ski In Ski Out

Deluxe Condo style units Restaurant Spa / Health Club /Pool Gift Shop / Ski Rental Lizard Creek Lodge, Fernie Alpine Resort, 5346 Highline Drive, Fernie BC, Canada. 1-877-228-1948, www.lizardcreek.com

Getting there There are plenty of opportunities to fly to North America from Europe. Sometimes you’ll need to take a domestic flight to arrive at your destination. Count on a minimum of 12 hours travel time from door to door, depending on the region you are going.

Denver and Salt Lake City in the U.S. and Van-


couver and Calgary in Canada are the airports

Almost all airlines charge extra fees for car-

that are popular with European skiers. This

rying skis or snowboards. Check in advance

obviously has to do with the proximity of large

whether it’s a problem to bring your own gear.

and well known ski resorts:

In some cases the airline should be notified

Denver: e.g. Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail

about the baggage in advance, or you can

Salt Lake City: Alta, Snowbird, Park City,

get a discount if you already paid in advance.


The cost for carrying skis or snowboards are

Vancouver: Whistler

between €25 and €€50 (depending on the

Calgary: Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, Kick-


ing Horse, Fernie Bringing an ABS backpack or similar can be Sometimes it is necessary to transfer to other

difficult because of the tightened regulations.

airports from the ones above (or any first ar-

Although you can officially bring the cylinder

rival point on the East Coast, such as Wash-

in your hand luggage, you will never succeed

ington or New York) to reach other ski resorts.

when trying. Not really strange when you’re not allowed to bring toothpaste. So print the

Bozeman: Big Sky, Bridger Bowl

form you can find on the website of ABS and

Reno: Squaw Valley, Mammoth

put the cylinder including the form in your lug-

Seattle: Mt. Baker, Crystal Mountain, Ste-

gage that you checked in. Indicate this clearly

vens Pass

at the desk.

Albuquerque: Taos Spokane: Red Mountain, White-



For almost all Europeans, it is possible to travel to the U.S. without a visa. However, it


is necessary to leave your data and the first

Obviously it depends on the departure air-

destination at the Electronic System for Travel

port and arrival airport, but an amount be-

Authorization (ESTA).

tween € 500 and € 800 for a return flight is pretty common. 58

Lufthansa: www.lufthansa.com British Airways: www.britishairways.com KLM/Air France: www.airfrance.com Continental: www.continental.com Air Canada: www.aircanada.com United Airlines: www.united.com Delta: www.delta.com 59

Getting AROUND Car

Another interesting option is renting a mo-

The distances in the United States and

torhome. You’ll save on your accommodation

Canada are large and both countries are

and you’ll immediately have the feeling of the

fully equipped to use the car. Public trans-

ultimate road trip. Where it can be hard to

portation is not an option when you’ll make

find a place to park a camper in European

a road trip through North America. Obvi-

areas, it’s no problem in most areas in North

ously, a car is not an absolute necessity

America. Indeed, in many areas such as Fern-

when you are staying in one place all week.

ie or Crystal Mountain, the campers can be

Areas such as Whistler and Jackson Hole

parked at the bottom of the mountain. The

have excellent public transport that will

rent of a motorhome will cost you about $

bring you to the lifts. If you want to visit

1000 a week.

more areas, than a car is an absolute must. Please note that U.S. rental cars are gener-

Alamo: www.alamo.com

ally not equipped with winter tires, but with

Thrifty: www.thrifty.com

all-season tires. Ask for this specificly at

National: www.nationalcar.com

the car rental. 4x4 is also extremely useful.

Hertz: www.hertz.com

The price of a car ranges from $ 60 per day

Budget: www.budget.com

for a mid-range up to $ 150 per day for a big fat SUV.

Highways & Interstates The public transport in the U.S. and Canada is not good outside of the big cities, but obviously the roads are perfectly developed. The roads are wider than in Europe. There is of course more room to build roads, but the big pickups and SUVs need to have some space. And that is a virtuous cycle for the camper. You’ll mostly use the highways and the interstates. Highways are regional roads where the speed is limited to 55 miles per hour. If you really want to travel fast then you use the


Kootenay pass, Google earth

interstate. These are the roads with ramps

mountain pass. However on those passes

and without intersections, where the speed

(and in most mountainous regions in North

limit is generally slightly higher, between 50

America) you must have winter tires or carry

and 75 miles per hour. Since traffic jams are

snow chains with you during winter. Exam-

rare outside the big cities it is easy to calculate

ples of passes are the Kootenay Pass in Brit-

the travel time between resorts. Interstates

ish Columbia, Teton Pass in Wyoming, but

with an even number generally run from west

also the Little and Big Cottonwood Canyon

to east, where those with an odd number run

in Utah.

from north to south.

Gas Passes

The petrol price in the U.S. has recently ris-

The Col de Lauteret, the Julier Pass and the

en considerably, but at this time (late winter

Col de la Forclaz won’t be found in North

2011) a gallon (3.79 liters) costs $ 3.50 for

America. Many resorts are accessible without

about. All in all a lot cheaper than in Europe.

really having to take significant hairpin bends.

Of course this advantage is somewhat offset

Naturally, there are some passes, but these

by the petrol consumption of larger cars.

are much lower than the average European 61

HOTEL MOTEL HOLIDAY INN? Accommodation Unless you have access to a camper, you will

In areas that were designed specifically as

have to sleep somewhere. And of course you

a “Mountain Resort” such as Kicking Horse

can draw your platinum card, but there are

Mountain Resort or Fernie Alpine Resort,

cheaper options.

there’s plenty of accommodation, but it’s worth it to stay in the ‘old’ town (in these cas-

Book in advance?

es, Golden and Fernie) because you’re stay is

If you’re stormchasing it’s simple: do not book

cheaper there. The same applies to the areas

in advance. Make sure you are flexible in order

in Utah. Staying in Salt Lake City or Ogden is

to follow the storm. It is (with the exception of

a lot cheaper than in the skiresort itself.

the mentioned holidays) no problem to score last minute accommodation. As mentioned

This construction works well in most resorts.

earlier, Americans don’t have that many holi-

In a large area like Whistler it’s more difficult

days, so there’s not much chance that you end

because there’s no ‘old town’ and almost all

up in a very busy period.

accommodation is situated on the slopes. Besides motels, there are many ‘skitowns’

Stay outside the resort

like Rossland and Nelson in British Columbia

Some areas don’t offer any accommodation,

where they have hostels where you’ll find a

like Bridger Bowl. An area consisting of a day-

bed for about $ 25 a night.

lodge with facilities and a large car park, but no appartments or hotels. You’ll stay in nearby Bozeman. The advantage is that for relatively little money you can rent a spacious motel room. For about 40-50 dollars per night you have a room with two queen beds, where you can easily sleep four people.



COSTS Road tripping in the U.S. and Canada is more expensive than any road trip in Europe. In some ways you save money, but on the other hand, but you can also spend your money three times as hard. Due to the powerful Canadian dollar, Canada is relatively more expensive for Europeans and Americans. A credit card is actually very useful and almost necessary in the U.S. and Canada. Here is a brief overview of the costs you are going to make (regardless of car or motorhome rental and airline tickets).

*Lift passes (more expensive than

*Restaurants and other food


(cheaper than Europe)

Obviously it depends on the area, but

In the U.S. you initially think of fast

generally lift passes are more expen-

food. Burgers, pizza, fries. It is also

sive in North America than in Europe.

widely available, both on the slopes

This has to do with the fact that skiers

and along the highways and in cit-

and snowboarders don’t stay long in

ies. The costs? Not much. For less

an area (they have less holidays), on

than $ 10 you can have a filling meal.

average three to four days. Commer-

Whether it is healthy is the next

cial resorts generally have higher rates

question. Healthy meals (ie vegeta-

than ski hills. Of course this is based

bles) are more expensive and less

on matters such as the number and

widely available. Sushi is a good al-

quality of the lifts and the size of the

ternative. In many resorts you can

ski area. How much is a day pass in:

find Japanese restaurants and for

Squaw Valley: $59

about $ 20 you’ll have a meal of this

Telluride: $98

delicacy from the land of the Ris-

Whistler: $ 95 (CAD)

ing Sun. Prices in supermarkets are

Alta: $ 69

comparable to European prices.

Jackson Hole: $91 Bridger Bowl: $ 47

*Gas (cheaper than Europe)

Pebble Creek: $ 39

Gasoline is much cheaper in the

Castle Mountain: $ 64 (CAD)

U.S. than in Europe. As mentioned

Mt. Shasta: $ 39

earlier, you pay about $ 3.50 a gal-

Powder Mountain: $ 59

lon. In Canada, the gasoline is more expensive. Here you pay (late winter


At gas stations, motels and on the in-

2011) an amount of approximately $

ternet you can find vouchers, where

1.39 (CAD) per liter. Gasoline prices

you can get a discount on your lift

are always changing and varying by

pass at some resorts.

state, like in Europe.

Download Salomon Powfinder at www.wepowder.com


Safety: Read First before dropping in B

ecause of the ‘ski area boundaries’ freeriding in the U.S. and Canada is more accessible than in Europe. Within these boundaries you’re usually safe from avalanches. Skipatrol checks the

area every morning and the areas they don’t trust are blown with dynamite or simply closed. Few skiers and snowboarders ride with the holy trinity of avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. Simply because there’s less need to than in Europe.


However, there are other dangers

you have sufficient knowledge of

that you need to consider and that

backcountry features, that you are in

are less common in Europe.

possession of an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe and the people you

Trees always win

ride with have the same skills. Not

‘Glades’ are specially prepared for-

sure of any of these things, then it

ests where some trees are cut so

is always wiser to hire a local guide.

that the forests are perfect for skiing and snowboarding. It is awe-

It’s not that you just can get into the

some to ride through the trees, but

backcountry by leaving the bound-

there are of course risks. Trees are

ary. The rules differ by resort. Some

generally not as flexible and the risk

areas have an open policy, which

of trauma by hitting a tree in a fall.

means that wherever you are you can get into the backcountry. Other

Moreover, there is a risk of “tree

areas have a gated policy, which

wells”. These are a type of wells

means that you can only leave (and

that exist at the foot of the tree. It

enter) the ski area through a gate.

is most common with trees that re-

Often this gate only open when you

main green in winter (such as a pine

have a beacon. Examples include

or a fir) and it works like this: be-

Jackson Hole and Delirium Dive at

cause of the large branches at the

Sunshine Village. Another name for

base of the tree, the snow around

the backcountry that you reach from

the trunk can not completely fall

a ski resort and is quite prevalent is

down. There is thus an invisible hole

‘side country’.

that can be over two meters deep. Research shows that 90% of peo-

The backcountry policy has not al-

ple who disappear into a tree well

ways been like this. In the 70’s and

are not able to free themselves.

80’s the backcountry in many areas

Here we have a so called NARSID

was inaccessible and you could lose

(Non Avalanche Related Snow Im-

your lift priviliges. The late Doug

mersion Death). More information

Coombs has played a major role

on NARSID’s is available at:

in changing this policy, as a mem-


ber of the Jackson Hole Air Force.


Coombs was banned in 1997 from Jackson because he had poached

Out of bounds

the backcountry and was caught by

When you leave the boundaries of

ski patrol. It started a small revolu-

the ski area it’s entirely your own

tion. Skipatrol, management and the

responsibility. Here you are, as in

locals were talking to each other.

the Alps, all on your own. You are

Two years later, Coombs was wel-

responsible for your route selec-

come again and Jackson Hole had

tion, and the assessments of the

his backcountry officially opened for

safety of yourself and others in your

skiers and boarders.

group. Are you going out of bounds, then it is obviously necessary that 68

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Cat- & Heliskiing/ boarding No road trip through North America is complete without a helicopter or snowcat. There are many companies that will give you the experience of a lifetime, but there are some things you have to consider.



course there’s other terrain in Alaska than in

The differences are clear. A cat rides and a


helicopter flies. Or it doesn’t. If the weather is bad (clouds, wind, snow), the helicopter


sometimes stays on the ground and you’ll

Everyone is stoked during these days. The

have a down day. A cat always rides. Rain

vibe in a cat is usually more relaxed than in

or sunshine.

a helicopter. You’re in the cat a little longer because it takes longer to drive to the runs


and thus you can make more contact with

The terrain you ride is dependent on the level

other skiers and snowboarders in the group.

of the group with which you ride. So you’re as strong as the group’s weakest link. When


you have only booked one day on a helicop-

Costs range from about $ 500 for one day in

ter or cat discuss this level with the opera-

the cat to $ 800 for one day in the helicop-

tor. There is not much difference between

ter. When you book a week in a lodge, then

the terrain you ride with a snowcat, and that

you quickly pay between $ 3000 and $ 5000.

with a helicopter. Depending on the weather

Naturally, this includes your accommodation,

you ride more tree runs with a snowcat . Of

full board and a large number of vertical. 71

The wrap-up Hopefully now that the threshold for a North american road trip is lowered, you’ll get on a plane and go stormchasing in the U.S. and Canada. Below is one more quick-and-dirty checklist of the points that you have to check:

Where to go -Which route to take? -How long will you be underway?

When to go -Is it a La Nina year? -Do you want to leave last-minute or do you want to arrange everything before you leave? -Is the period you want to leave the best time for the region you want to go?

Getting there -Do you bring your own gear? -Have you registered with ESTA (for travel to the U.S.)?

Getting around -Have you told car rental that you need snow chains and / or snow tires?

Accommodation -Do you want to book in advance? -Have you considered any public holidays?

Other costs -Is it cheaper to buy your lift tickets in advance?



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Essentials - Road Tripping North America  

Road Tripping North America is a magazine for the freerider who wants to shred powder in North America. Read about our roadtrip in the USA a...

Essentials - Road Tripping North America  

Road Tripping North America is a magazine for the freerider who wants to shred powder in North America. Read about our roadtrip in the USA a...

Profile for wepowder