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Travel: An epic trip with the stars of snowbusiness in North America

© Shutterstock / Lauren OrrDowntown Telluride.
Downtown Telluride.

We skied pristine groomers in Whistler, silky powder in Revelstoke, challenging steeps in Kicking Horse and the legendary bowls of Fernie.

And that was just the resorts in Canada. In the US state of Utah, we skied many more miles, day after day, at America’s largest resort, Park City & Canyons, and the smaller mountain areas of Snowbird, Alta and Snowbasin.

Yet still we wanted more.

So we drove to the neighbouring state of Colorado and discovered two other skiing gems, Telluride and Crested Butte.

While a month off work to ski at 10 resorts in three North American states had felt like an extravagant luxury at the start of the holiday, by the end it had become a way of life. My husband Gordon and I had spotted a deal for a heavily discounted season pass for a collection of ski resorts.

© Shutterstock / Juana Nunez
Whistler, in Canada’s British Columbia is a skier’s dream, with pistes to suit all ages and abilities.

The Epic pass was still pricey at £765 each but we worked out that a week of skiing at one of many resorts in Canada and America would cost the same or more – so the longer we skied for, the greater the savings.

Gordon and I planned our extended, pre-Covid holiday around the Epic pass, picking resorts in British Columbia in Canada, as well as Utah and Colorado.

We also stopped at three resorts of Revelstoke, Snowbird and Alta, which are not included on the pass, simply because we already knew and loved them.

The travel arrangements included one-way flights from Scotland to Canada, then Canada to Utah and home again from Colorado to Scotland.

We drove a rental car between the resorts and while the journeys were long by UK standards they offered wonderfully scenic views, especially of the Rocky Mountains.

Each ski mountain had unique attractions and fantastic challenges.

© Shutterstock / Kristi Blokhin
Colorado’s Telluride, Crested Butte and Golden, in British Colombia, all offer wonderful skiing and dramatic views of the Rocky Mountain range.

Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, a hotspot for the rich and famous, delivers 200 runs – many beautifully groomed – across more than 8,000 acres of diverse terrain. The two-mountain resort is linked by the vertigo-inducing Peak To Peak gondola and at every turn the vistas are breathtaking.

Smaller but with greater elevation, Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a target for powder hounds.

We enjoyed “flirting with the boundaries”, skiing both pisted runs and in-bounds off-piste runs.

The tree runs in Revelstoke are great fun and picture-postcard perfect when laden with thick snow.

Kicking Horse, close to the former mining town of Golden, came next. Highlights for me included boot-packing to high ridges to ski gnarly off-piste runs.

Fernie, the final BC resort, brought back special memories as it was where we eloped to get married in a slope-side ceremony two years before.

We continued the romance, spending days exploring 2,500 acres of skiable terrain spread across five high bowls.

Then, we could have easily spent the entire month in Utah. The state is known for its delightfully dry snow, which makes skiing a sublimely silky experience.

Park City boasts almost 350 ski runs and 41 uplifts across 7,300 acres of skiing terrain.

Much smaller, yet with a greater community feel, Snowbasin, near the town of Ogden, offers a mix of wide-open bowls, glades and groomers and the tram ride to Allen Peak is a must if you are a confident skier.

Two further smaller mountains of Alta and Snowbird have a local atmosphere, too, and attract residents of Utah’s capital, Salt Lake City.

© Shutterstock / EB Adventure Phot
Golden, British Columbia, Canada.

We found the snow havens, which lie in the Cottonwood Canyon, are best skied on week days to make the most of bountiful snowfall.

We had imagined that by the time we reached Colorado, we would be all skied out. Yet, the final resorts of our trip turned out to be two of the very best.

Telluride has long been acclaimed as a secret gem, mainly because the mountain is a long way from pretty much anywhere. We drove almost seven hours from Salt Lake City to the high-altitude mountain where an impressive lift system and vertical drop of 3,845ft brought hours of thigh-burning pleasure.

At Crested Butte, we enjoyed more of the same, including a chance to attempt America’s steepest sustained run, Rambo, as well as several supremely flowing groomed runs.

We left Crested Butte, en route to Denver International Airport, with heavy hearts and tired legs – but with the germ of a plan to go Epic in another part of the world next time round.


Dreaming Ahead

In the coming season, the Covid-19 pandemic will require all ski resorts to adjust some of their operations.

Although, because skiing is enjoyed outdoors, many resorts are confident that visitor numbers will be high. Matt Mosteller, spokesperson at Fernie Alpine Resort, said: “While many aspects will look and feel the same there will also be many things that look different this season.

“In line with Covid guidelines, skiers will be required to wear face coverings in and around resorts, such as in parking areas, base areas, lifts and indoors, and maintain social distancing. Resorts will also offer increased cleaning and sanitisation.”

Matt added: “Skiing and snowboarding offer low-risk, high-value recreation in a time when most people need it.

“I am optimistic that we are going to have an incredible, albeit different, winter.”


Factfile

Flights and car hire booked through travelcounsellors.co.uk. Accommodation: fernielodgingco.com and kickinghorselodging.com. Ski pass: epicpass.com