THE NORTHERN ISSUE
Unlike anywhere else?
Yip. Here’s why...
For starters, it’s not crowded.
It could be just like anywhere else, but it ain’t.
Come on over. There’s plenty of room.
And the snow is incredible, because of, well, British Columbia winters.
And the runs are endless, which means tired legs will be stoked to sink into the country’s largest slope-side outdoor hot pools. Let that soak in! The accommodation is right beside the lifts, our team is super-friendly, and well, it’s Canada, eh? The only thing stuck up here is the top of the mountain. It’s all pretty chill. (Except for the hot pools. Those are warm.)
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PIMP MY CHAIR RIDE - quirky chairlifts of the world THE BIG THREE, WHO WINS? – Chamonix | Verbier | Jackson Hole CAR FREE SKI TOWNS – prettiest pedestrian snow villages SNOW CAMP – a ski/board improvement camp for everyone EURO SCHUSS – the best backcountry secrets of Europe MY SHINTO HOME – Japan’s coolest ancient ski town, Nozawa Onsen HOW SKIING BECAME MY HAPPY PLACE – when the mountains heal CHOW DOWN – ski town food to tick off your list ADVENTURES BEST – when the chairlifts stop, the action begins A TO Z OF JAPOW – 26 things we love about Japan MY FIRST LOVE – when Aspen Snowmass beguiled a first timer
REGULARS ED LETTER OUR TEAM HOW TO (POWDER SKI) GREEN GEAR
Hola Snows Besties (see what I did there) Snow banter may be our business but it’s also our life love. I remember falling in love, the first time skiing north of the equator. You never forget it really, all that deep winter powder, different accents, après rituals and the people, oh the people. My first time was in Colorado, a dream trip from Denver to Vail to Beaver Creek, Aspen and Telluride. I was hooked. I’ve lost count of how many northern resorts and adventure heli, cat and backcountry experiences I’ve had in the USA, Canada, Japan and Europe since. The friends I’ve made, memories created, good times and eyes wide opened have already lasted a lifetime. Skiing and snowboarding is a bonding experience, it brings strangers together across shores and creates a high vibrational energy few leisure sports can come close to. The combination of mountain landscapes, physical challenge and chairlift chats remind us all we’re alive and living, not just surviving. After the last two years of mental and pandemic stress, we’re all itching to click into our skis and snowboards again and feel the freedom of floating on deep powder, cutting through buttery groomers and dining on s’mores, katsu don, fondue, poutine and the like. This is our first SnowsBest e-mag and we’ve gone overboard with 70 of pages dedicated to northern hemisphere skiing and snowboarding. From the highest peaks of the Canadian Rockies to the backcountry gems of Europe, the steeps and deeps of the USA and the wonder of Japan, we’ve curated the best snow loving writers to inspire your northern dreaming. Go north and prosper. Rach aka Miss Snow It All Rachael Oakes-Ash firstname.lastname@example.org IG/FB @misssnowitall
We’ve sourced some of the best content creators, writers and photographers in the snow world to give you the lowdown on their favourite northern snow destinations.
Abigail BUTCHER Abigail Butcher is a national newspaper journalist based in the UK, specialising in global ski and adventure travel. “I loved writing about the “Big Three” (Verbier, Chamonix, Jackson Hole) as adventure skiing is in my soul, so these three resorts are as much at the top of my bucket list as they are anyone else’s.” IG: @abijbutcher
Kate ALLMAN Kate Allman is a long time sports reporter, presents for Channel TEN and writes for a range of ski and travel publications including Escape, The Guardian, Surfing Life and Forbes. Kate reveals her first northern love, Aspen, for The Northern Issue with a heart-felt personal story of powder days under Colorado skies. IG: @kateallman_
Mark DAFFEY Travel writer and photographer Mark Daffey is a sucker for accepting travel assignments that quench his thirst for adventure with CNN, Audi and Fairfax. In this issue Mark reveals some of the best adventures and skill improvement camps to be had in the mountains. IG: @markdaffey
Christine SCHIEDEL Christine Schiedel is a long time art director and designer for Australia’s best national
magazines. A skier who swapped to snowboarding this year, she loves an adventure and dreams of hitting up the Canadian Rockies for a powder fix this northern season. IG: @christineschiedel
Contributors: Natalia Jastrzab, Alyson Lamb, Alex Parsons Contributing photographers: Chris Hocking, Darren Teasdale, Shaun Mittwollen, Jen McLean 8 I SNOWSBEST.COM
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WHEN WINTER MEANS
BY RACHAEL OAKES-ASH
We all have those friends who are solid for life, no matter how much time has passed nor how much geographical distance, when you get together it’s just like yesterday
that you saw each other. That, for me, is Canada.
T HIS MAMMOTH COUNTRY FILLED
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frosting at Paradise Camp at Okanagan’s prettiest pedestrian ski village, SilverStar, after hitting up the back side steeps and front side groomers. That one time I skied with Canadian Olympic legend, Nancy Greene, on her hosted ski tours at Sun Peaks, when Big White resort served up snow laden tree monsters to duck, dart and dive in on a bluebird ski day and when Panorama Mountain Resort revealed the cat accessed back Taynton Bowl for the off-piste powder lover. Tackling Canada’s mountains by road trip always tugs at the heart - the fjord side Sea to Summit drive from Vancouver to Whistler, the spectacular Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper and the famed Powder Highway. At every turn there’s another Instagram worthy view that wins the internet with more lakes, more rivers, more peaks and even ferries that transport cars across water ways to more roads with more views. Dotted along the Powder Highway are lakeside hot springs for soaking and the cutest old school ski towns with mining or railway heritage, filled with multi coloured houses gentrified by artisans who roast coffee and distil local botany and spring water into gins and vodkas and beers. These cute as a button towns service big mountain ski resorts – Fernie Alpine Resort for multiple ridge lines, Red Mountain Resort for steeps and deeps and huts hidden in the woods, Whitewater Ski Resort for lift accessed powder runs and award winning après fare, Revelstoke Mountain Resort for the largest vertical in North America, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for views and terrain to both soothe and challenge. Then there’s the town of Banff, a mere two hours drive from Calgary and the gateway to Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay resorts. If you head into Canada’s ski terrain from east to west, this is where you’ll land, in a fairy tale mountain region that boasts
WITH SNOW LADEN MOUNTAIN PEAKS, wild coastlines, azure lakes, urban style and northern lights is as big as the hearts of the locals with their knitted toques and quirky laidback humour. Canada is the home of winter for lovers of winter. The Canadian Rockies run 1480km long and 180kms wide, taking up 194,000 square kilometres across the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Add up to 17 metres of powder snowfall and it’s no surprise that commercial heli skiing was birthed here, that 21 cat skiing lodges are based here and that hundreds of ski resorts are dotted across Canada’s wide lands. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve clicked into skis and touched snow in these parts but I have not forgotten my first time ticking off Canadian rights of passage. The thigh burn of skiing North America’s largest ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb, and the peak to creek ski run followed by the first Bloody Caesar at GLC bar topped with enough garnish to make a meal on its own. The first cinnamon scroll dripping with
THE Canadian Rock i es RUN 1480KM LONG AND 180KMS WIDE. “
YOU’LL LAND, IN A fairy tale MOUNTAIN REGION THAT BOASTS A cast le , A CHATEAU AND A frozen lake. “
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a castle, a chateau and a frozen lake for ice skating in a mountain amphitheatre. Then there’s the road from Banff National Park north to Jasper National Park and Marmot Basin Ski Resort. The kind of national parks that imprint themselves in your skin and lure you back to bathe in nature with memories that show themselves when you’re back at the office wondering where the days went. And all along this way are those crazy Canucks who consider axe throwing an après sport, will push you off a ledge with a bungee cord into snow lined ravines, take you ice fishing in a tiny cabin, to the local ice hockey game, invite you in a helicopter to a mountain top for fondue or that Canadian “delicacy” know as poutine (hot chips and gravy with cheese curd). Another world opens when heli skiing and cat skiing comes into play. When that helicopter takes you and your friends and your skis and snowboard into the remote wilderness and drops you on a peak before disappearing into the skies, you know you are living. Surrounded by snow so light and so dry you can’t make a snowball and a blank canvas upon which to place your ski tracks. It’s truly the pinnacle for any skier or boarder. Then, when the snow legs are done and nature is still calling you can head to the arctic landscapes of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon to immerse yourself in indigenous history and marvel at the aurora. Fill your soul with the northern lights as they dance across the sky, the perfect beginning or ending to your Canadian adventure. Canada is open this season, the first full season for Australians since the pandemic. Airlines are flying direct from Australia’s east coast to the vibrant streets of harbourside Vancouver, the exchange rate is healthy and almost on par and the mountains are calling. I know where I’ll be skiing. Just saying. Need more? Check out all that Canada has to offer this winter.
SNOWSBEST I 10 I 15
Pimp Chair ride MY
THE TRAM, JACKSON HOLE SKI RESORT USA It’s hard to go past Jackson Hole’s Tram, or Big Red, when listing the coolest chairlifts in ski towns. In just 12 minutes, Big Red can fly 100 people 1260m skyward. Here, revellers enjoy 360-degree views of the famous Teton Mountains and Jackson Hole Valley plus access to a plethora of advanced freeride runs, including the infamous Corbet’s Couloir. Time it right and you could catch a #tramjam, where famous musicians akin to Michael Franti, bust a live tune during the ascent.
TITLIS ROTAIR, ENGELBERG SWITZERLAND Three words. Rotating. Cable. Car. Head to Titlis Resort in Engelberg Switzerland where you’ll be whisked 3020m above sea level. This world-first ski lift revolves 360 degrees as a part of its 5-minute ride. Be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding mountain peaks boasting some of the best (and gnarliest) freeride terrain in the world.
Not all chairlifts are created equal.
BY ALYSON LAMB
RAMCHARGER, BIG SKY USA Big Sky’s famous high-speed, high-tech, eight-person Ramcharger 8 chairlift is the chair for the pampered you. It features ergonomically-shaped, extra-wide heated seats, head rests, foot rests and a weather-proof bubble for those bad weather days. Better yet, forget waiting in slow lift queues. The Ramcharger can take on 3,200 riders every hour, dropping them up Andesite Mountain ready to cruise along some of the best intermediate trails Big Sky has on offer.
ARMENTAROLA SKI LIFT , DOLOMITES ITALY
Located in the centre of the Dolomites is Armentarola and one of the most unique ski lifts on our list. As you make your way down the slope towards the skiable area of Alta Badia, you’ll be met with a flat area, and this is where the excitement begins. Rather than riding a simple rope tow, you’ll instead enjoy the unforgettable experience of being towed by a horse-drawn carriage. Does it get much cooler than that?
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[ FRANCE ] Chamonix
CONS • Separate
PROS • Gnarly skiing — serious challenges and steeps for adventurers • Authentic French
mountains with bus travel required • Not great for piste skiers especially of different abilities • Serious race for first tracks after snowfall, queues can build at lifts • Chamonix town gets busy and only one lift/mountain directly from the town
What it’s really like skiing the world’s most iconic resorts – Chamonix, Verbier and Jackson
town with a real adventure vibe
• Home of the
famous Vallée Blanche, one of the world’s longest off-piste runs
• Masses of
mountain schools to upskill
BY ABIGAIL BUTCHER
EVER SINCE GREG STUMP SKIED THE COULOIR POUBELLE off the Aiguille du Midi in the ski film Blizzard of Aahs, Chamonix has been hailed as one of — if not the best freeride resort in the world, and one that no self-respecting skier should leave off their bucket list. Sitting in the shadow of the famous Mont Blanc, the scenery in “Cham” is dramatic and the skiing steep — it’s every bit as good as the movies. Chamonix is of course home to the Vallée Blanche, the most famous off-piste descent in the world, and definitely one of the longest, at 18km. The downside of all this is that the place gets busy, with a lot of testosterone and competition especially when the forecast is for snow. Chamonix town is big and bustling, so it’s a place to sit and absorb. This is a place for extreme skiers, mountain guides and mountaineers — even the equipment left outside bars is next-level. But this comes
THE BIG THREE SNOWSBEST.COM
with benefits: there are numerous mountain guides/training schools teaching mountain craft and off-piste skills, much of which is set up for solo skiers or small groups, so it is very affordable. If you’re thinking of going off piste or venturing into the backcountry then you’ll definitely need a guide. Because of its size, Chamonix is also relatively affordable and it’s also easy to reach — just an hour from Geneva airport with great bus links.
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[ SWITZERLAND ] Verbier
and apartment blocks are (in the main) charmingly clad in wood and stone. It’s not the cheapest place to stay, but there are some good-value hostels, huts, 3* hotels and Airbnb’s dotted around if you look hard enough. Because it’s such an iconic destination, Verbier gets busy, especially at the peak times of Christmas and New Year, but with a ski area spread over 412km (for which you need a 4 Vallées ski pass, not just Verbier) there is masses of skiing for all levels, all day long.
PROS • Switzerland is
CONS • Pricey to eat, drink, ski, stay and party • Elbows out
immaculate, and everything runs like clockwork (yes, really)
after a dump — everything gets tracked out quickly
[ USA ] Jackson Hole
• The terrain is steep, with
itineraries offering avalanche- patrolled off-piste
• Glitzy side to the resort is
• Attractive town, slick transport and an efficient lift network direct from the village. • Verbier knows how to party
somewhat off- putting
• Ski area gets
Start the day by riding the iconic Jackson Hole Tram and stopping for a coffee and Top Of The World Waffle at Corbet’s Cabin, a tradition in itself, and the best way to savour the 360-degree views of the Tetons and Jackson Hole Valley. Without going out of the gates, there’s more than enough steep, double-black diamond chutes and tree runs to keep a good skier busy, accessing some of the most challenging skiing on the planet without the expense of hiring a guide. Jackson Hole is on the Ikon Pass which makes the lift pass cheaper, but also means that weekends can be busy with American skiers flocking by car to the Big Hills, so ski mid-week. The main town filled with cowboy saloons, pool halls and wooden walkways is a half- hour drive from the base of the ski area — which is a fun spot as well — but the two, like many US resorts, are a bus ride away from each other. Make the most of your time there and visit the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and make sure to come home with a Stetson.
PROS • A Wild West
CONS • Pricey to stay and ski in Jackson Hole • Ski area is a bus ride from the old town • Queues build for lifts and traffic on the roads • Limited skiing for beginners
busy especially at peak periods
culture you won’t find anywhere else • Big vertical and home to the famous Corbet’s Couloir • Excellent snow record and in-bound challenging skiing • Great aprés compared to some US resorts
VERBIER HAS IT ALL: gnarly skiing, serious freeride terrain and epic nightlife, but also reasonable amounts of piste skiing and runs that the Swiss call “itineraries” that are essentially avalanche-patrolled “off-piste” — such as the famous Tortin or Vallon d’Arbi. The skyline is epic, with views from the summit of Mont Fort, the highest peak in the 4 Vallées, taking in the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, as well as the Rhone Valley. You need stamina for this Swiss gem. It is a serious skier’s town — the final stop and birthplace of the Freeride World Tour — but Verbier is also a serious party town attracting celebs and royals in equal measure, many of whom you might be rubbing shoulders with at the end of the night in its infamous nightclub, The Farm. Verbier’s town is purpose-built, but not in the big purpose-built block way once favoured by the French; the chalets, hotels
WHERE ELSE MIGHT YOU COME ACROSS A 700KG MOOSE while skiing, drop into the most famous couloir in the world and then sit in a western ranching saddle, sipping a beer? Only in Jackson Hole. This Wyoming resort is so next level for just about everything: scenery, steepness, snow record, party atmosphere and serious skiing that it’s not hard to nail down exactly why this deserves its place at the top of skiers’ To Do lists.
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Base to Base gondola opening up 6000 acres of terrain across two mountains. Known for some of the best free riding in the USA, Palisades is home to the famous Finger Chutes, if you dare, and the equally famous Jonny Moseley Winter Olympic gold medal mogul skier. 4 DEER VALLEY, UTAH One of six Utah destinations on the Ikon Pass, the exclusive skiers-only Deer Valley resort caps daily numbers so you don’t have to stand in a lift line. Add resort ski valets, ski-in ski-out five star hotels and the thriving Park City Main Street down the road and your luxe snow life is full. Did we mention 100 runs over six peaks? We should have. 5 STEAMBOAT, COLORADO Steamboat - where they’re so confident about the quality of their snowfall, they trademarked it Champagne Powder®. You’ll find plenty of it across 169 runs in the Colorado resort known for real Old West charm, local bespoke restaurants and retail plus convenient slopeside lodging and a $200m investment for the 22/23 and 23/24 season. 6 WINTER PARK, COLORADO Catch the Winter Park Express snow train from Denver to the slopes and explore the resort’s seven territories accessed from a purpose built ski-in ski-out base village. Kids will love skiing the run rolling Dilly Dash Alley, experts head to the Cirque Territory for steeps, cliffs and chutes.
W ITH ACCESS TO OVER 50 GLOBAL DESTINATIONS, the Ikon Pass is a favourite for a reason. It offers serious bang for buck and encourages skiers and snowboarders to explore destinations they may not have otherwise discovered including 6 of the best in the USA. 1 MAMMOTH, CALIFORNIA Mammoth is big, really big, with over 10 metres of annual snowfall and one of the longest seasons in North America, with lifts often turning right through to July. This Californian resort also offers the highest lift-served skiable terrain in the state at 3369 metres, plus 3500 acres to explore, famed terrain parks and 945metres of vertical.
2 SNOWBASIN, UTAH runs across 3000 skiable acres and 914 vertical metres for a real thigh burn. Expect wide open bowls, corduroy groomers, gladed runs and seriously swanky day lodges to retire to. Fun fact – Snowbasin has a long history as a training ground for Australia’s Olympic aerial skiers. 3 PALISADES TAHOE, CALIFORNIA Come this northern ski season and Palisades Tahoe will unite Alpine Meadows and Olympic Valley with a much-anticipated This classic Utah resort is new to the Ikon pass this season, with over 100
Discover the Ikon Pass, and find your resort favourites here.
BY NATALIA JASTRZAB
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TOP 5 POWDER SKIING TIPS 1 CHOOSE YOUR TERRAIN WISELY: for less
HOW GOOD DO I HAVE TO BE? GP: Skiers can start to enjoy the sensation of powder skiing as soon as they can parallel ski. Take the time to ski with and learn from a certified ski pro. They will quickly get a skier focusing on what to do and how to do it, making powder a more enjoyable experience. Like many things, the more skiers get out in powder snow the more at ease they will be. The trick it is be patient with yourself. GP: The deeper the snow the wider and softer ski you’ll need, however in some cases, too wide a ski can be more of challenge to use. For example, a light snowfall with low humidity or featherlight snow covering hardpack or ice. Because the skiers weight/force will push through the little amount of light snow, the best ski choice would be a ski more suited toward a hardpack condition. Powder snow conditions of 10cms or more require an “all mountain ski’ with a slightly wider, if not Rubenesque shape underfoot, skiers will then float more than sink, taking less effort to enjoy the snow. WHAT SKIS DO I NEED? Panorama Resort’s Guy Paulsen reveals his Level IV Instructor Tips on how to powder ski.
experienced skiers look for gentler slopes using a slightly longer, straighter turn shape to carry speed and grow confidence. Powder snow acts a little like a brake, taking a straighter line at first may feel strange however will compensate for added resistance. 2 KNOW YOUR WEATHER: visibility and wind have an incredible impact on powder skiing. Especially for advanced/expert skiers looking to access more exposed terrain. Knowing the weather prior to hitting the slopes helps. Typically, large weather systems come with associated wind and clouds. Being aware of this in advance will help you with your terrain selection - leeward aspect with trees for added definition. 3 SKI WITH SOMEONE: contrary to the infamous powder snow saying “ there are no friends on powder days” having a friend not only to share a great story with but one who can assist you in finding your ski (or worse) is always a good idea 4 STAY CENTRED: the tendency for many skiers is wanting to lean back while skiing powder. Don’t. Many of today’s ski are designed with early rise or rocker tip to allow the ski to move through the snow easily while you keep your strong centred stance. 5 BE FLUID: Be progressive with your movements and turn shape when skiing in powder snow. Quick, hard turns often result in an awkward, strenuous experience. Instead, be purposeful and progressive. The best powder skiers are always in a state of movement, up, down, side to side. Whatever the situation calls for. Just like a great dancer they are never still.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Guy Paulsen enjoying the powder snow in Taynton Bowl at Panorama, BC Canada.
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EUROPE’S SKI TOWNS BY ALYSON LAMB
Pack your après boots and leave the rental car at home, the sweetest pedestrian only ski villages in the European alps are filled with cob- bled streets, snow laden thatched roofs and rocking ski terrain.
snow cover almost year round making it a highly desirable ski destination. Arc 1950 is also home to the famous Vanoise Express Cable Car. Stretching 1800m across a valley, you can take the dizzyingly high double- decker link from Les Arcs to La Plagne to further explore the Paradiski resort. 4. COURMAYEUR, ITALY Rub shoulders with the rich and stylish in Cormayeur’s pedestrian only kilometre long Via Roma, where skiers and snowboarders come to part with their Euro for the world’s swankiest farshun labels and sip on après tinctures with the well-heeled of Milan. This old-world village at the foot of Mont Blanc is an Instagrammer’s dream, all cobbled laneways and heritage alpine architecture. You’ll find the resort in the Vallee D’Aosta in the most breathtaking peaks of the European Alps serving up big mountain terrain to make your thighs burn with over 1500 metres plus of vertical.
360km of piste skiing across three ski areas, there’s plenty of riding fun to be had when you find yourself at this 1608m altitude village. 2.OBERLECH, AUSTR I A Completely car-free in winter, Oberlech makes use of underground service tunnels to transport goods around the village. Known for luxe top-end restaurants and hotels, the boujee village sits at an altitude of 1750m and is home to 305km of ski runs. For those wanting to rub shoulders with the elite, Oberlech is one of the more popular ski destinations for Royal visitors. 3.LES ARCS, FRANCE Arc 1950 is part of the mammoth Paradiski in France offering 435km of piste skiing. The ski-in-ski-out village is dotted with human-powered travellers making their way about town with all vehicles parked underground upon arrival. At 1950m above sea level, you’re guaranteed
1.ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND You’ll find Zermatt nestled at the foot of Switzerland's most iconic mountain - the Matterhorn. A sustainability champion, you can breathe in the clean air of this traffic- free village powered by hydropower and solar. Encouraged to make your way around by foot, Zermatt also offers e-taxi, cable car, e-bus or even a horse- drawn carriage (just like a fairytale) as alternative ways to get around. Home to 28 I SNOWSBEST.COM
THAT ONE TIME AT SNOW CAMP
SK I - IN GEEK-OUT Science knowledge has been applied to practically every sport on the planet, all in the pursuit of seeing how far mankind can run, jump, lift, swim, kick or throw. Limits are tested and boundaries continually reset. Skiing is no exception, with the Rocky Mountains resort of Telluride leading the way through their three-hour, on-snow private lessons in Ski Biomechanics. Dr Kim Hewson, an orthopaedic surgeon, former Director
STEEP AND DEEP IN THE CANADI AN WOODS For 60-odd years, ever since Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) Heli Skiing’s founder strapped a car’s ski rack to the skids of a helicopter and flew to a remote glacier with visions of skiing untouched powder, the company has been ferrying adventure lovers to remote slopes in British Columbia’s Bugaboo Ranges and beyond. CMH’s
SKI INSTRUCTOR COURSE, BANFF Specialist ski and snowboard improvement company, Nonstop, offer three, five and 11-week Ski Instructor Courses based in the Canadian resort town of Banff. Twenty-five per cent of students who sign up for the five-week course are Aussies, with each of them gaining CSIA Level 1 accreditation upon completion. Courses operate in the three surrounding resorts of Sunshine Village, Lake Louise and Mt Norquay. Each have their own unique characteristics, allowing for a varied training experience. Nonstop’s coaches will be on the slopes with you for five hours per day, four days a week, leaving plenty of free time to practise what you’ve learned or try other activities (ice climbing, anyone?). And even if you don’t plan on teaching skiing, completing one of these courses will improve your technique and skills, making you a better skier.
WANNABE OLYMPIANS IN ITALY Forget ordinary ski schools. Instead, The Arc will fast-track your kids towards becoming highly skilled athletes using programs designed by two- time Winter Olympian, Jono Bauer. Based in the Italian Alps resort of Livigno, The Arc offers a choice of four programs across two- or three-week periods. Children aged seven years and up can get expert tutelage from world-class coaches across Alpine, Ski X and Moguls in the Core Skill Development Programs. Or maybe they want to hone their Giant Slalom, Slalom and Ski X racing skills; for that, they should join the Alpine Race Training Program. The Arc’s Slopestyle Development Programs focus on terrain park skills and safety. And snowboarders haven’t been forgotten either; the Snowboard Programs for shredders aged 10 and above sets the foundation for excellence in a variety of disciplines.
WHAT ARE YOU SO AFRAID OF? No one is fearless, even in skiing. But extreme skier, Kirsten Ulmer, insists it’s possible to have a healthy relationship with fear and anxiety. For more than a decade, Ulmer risked her life skiing down some of the most extreme terrain known to man or woman, allowing her to forge a reputation as the world’s best big- mountain extreme skier. At one point, her peers in the outdoor industry voted her the most fearless athlete in North America. But that reputation for bravery didn’t come by accident. After much trial and error, Ulmer learned from her mistakes, which she generously imparts on others during her two-day Art of Fear Camp at Alta in Utah, a skiers-only resort. It’s not about where you plant your pole or how to finish your turn. Instead, these camps promise to alter your mindset so that by the end of it, nothing will hold you back. I 31 SNOWSBEST.COM
BY MARK DAFFEY
Steep Shots and Pillow Drops Trip goes a step
of Sports Medicine at University of Arizona,
The best way to improve your skiing or snowboarding? Sign up to one of these specialist camps. By the time you’ve completed one, you’ll be sending it with the best of them.
further, with expert tutelage by guides and athletes who give you the coaching you need to tackle gnarly drops and navigate leg-burning lines.
and ski school instructor, has devised a step-by- step approach to skiing more efficiently, based on increasing your awareness of your natural functional skeletal alignment.
E UROPE IS BRIMMING WITH SKI RESORTS like nowhere else on earth. Mountains throughout France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy (and beyond) have for centuries been crossed on skis and there’s barely a pitch now untouched by a lift. But while the well- known resorts offer incredible skiing, masses of non-ski activities and buzzy nightlife, many are a victim of their own success. And if you’re in search of powder, crowds are no good. While you can freeride anywhere, and let’s face it who doesn’t like lift-served powder runs, the steeper and deeper resorts of Chamonix, St Anton and Verbier are awesome ski areas that really take some beating — but you need to sharpen your elbows on a powder morning and be up at the crack of dawn to beat the rush. If you’re after a more laid-back vibe, where the snow isn’t tracked out within an hour, along with more intimate and authentic side to European mountains, there are some real hidden gems that offer that authentic ambience, lower prices and just as much (if not more) pow. SWITZERLAND ENGELBERG This isn’t a place for beginners, as there’s not a lot of piste skiing, but Engelberg — with its “big give” off-piste routes of Galtiberg, Sulz, Steinberg, Laub and Steintäli, is mighty for adventure-hungry experts. The resort, just over an hour’s journey from Zurich, sits on the northern edge of the Alps with an excellent snow record. While the town sits at 1050m, and can be prone to rain, the highest peak, Titlis, towers at 3040m, so there’s more than 2000m vertical to devour. Just make sure to take a mountain guide. Top tip: Stay at Ski Lodge Engelberg for the full backcountry vibe.
BEST-KEPT BACKCOUNTRY SECRETS
If you’re after a more laid-back vibe, where the snow isn’t tracked out within an hour, along with a more intimate side to European mountains, there are some real hidden gems that offer that authentic ambience, lower prices and just as much (if not more) pow.
BY ABIGAIL BUTCHER
AUSTR I A OBERGURGL This high village sits at 1930m with its highest peak — the cutely named Wurmkogl — at 3080m, making it one of the most snow-sure ski resorts in the Alps. It oozes Tyrolean atmosphere (if not charm) so you’ll be fuelling up here for your freeriding on stodgy goulash and germknödel. While it’s not exactly “unknown” — Obergurgl is very popular with families — it doesn’t have a big name among powder-seekers, which means you can find fresh tracks easily, with lots of it in mellow bowls and powder fields all easily accessed from lifts. A ‘something for everyone’ destination. Top tip: Head to the Nederhütte for some proper foot-stomping, table-dancing Austrian après.
be had along with some excellent mountain huts for touring. In the valley, a range of small family-friendly villages stretch from Bonneval- sur-Arc (a ski tour destination from Val d’Isère, over the hill), to Val Cenis and Orelle (linked by lift with Val Thorens and Les 3 Vallées) to Valloire and Les Sybelles. Top Tip: Book a mountain guide, or spot on a shared day’s guiding, with Upguides.com LA GRAVE Okay, it’s not exactly ‘hidden’ but it does tick all the boxes: unspoilt, gnarly, big vertical, great snow and legendary off-piste. La Grave has less than 1,000 visitor beds, only one serious lift and an almost entirely freeride, steep mountain with a summit at 3550m which gives it reliably great snow (though not reliably good weather: be warned). You do need to have a guide, like everywhere in Europe when you venture off the piste, but this is a serious resort for experts only and unless you hit that bad weather, you’re unlikely to leave disappointed — or with any energy. Top tip: If that storm hits, weather it in nearby Serre Chevalier, equally unspoilt.
ANDERMATT Less of a hidden gem since its multi facelift by a developer and purchase by Vail Resorts, Andermatt still deserves a firm spot on Europe’s steep and deep list. Its main mountain, the Gemsstock, has rugged and steep terrain from 2965m, with glorious long off-piste options and reliable, bountiful snow (mountain guide needed). Since linking with nearby Sedrun, there’s more piste skiing here for the less confident, too. The old village, once an Army garrison, charms with its Hansel and Gretel-style buildings lining the main street — with affordable places to stay and a buzzing nightlife, so save some legs for the dancefloor. Top tip: Travel here via Switzerland’s excellent — and scenic — rail network. VAL D’ANNIVIERS Home to several unspoilt, charming villages — of which Grimentz and Zinal are the best known — this ski area in the Rhone Valley is low-key and crowd-free, despite its excellent snow record and massive range of off-piste skiing. Don’t expect too many fast, modern chairlifts here and be prepared to hike to find the goods, but with a top altitude of 3000m and a ski area of around 220km pistes, there’s nothing humble about this Valaisan gem which happily sits quietly in the shadow of its glitzier neighbours of Verbier and Zermatt. Top tip: Book mountain guide Nick Parks. FRANCE MAURIENNE VALLEY Offering everything from tree skiing, to open bowls and hike-to couloirs, this unknown valley close to the Italian border is a true hidden gem. The Maurienne still lies relatively unchartered — despite the fact you can find sweet, untracked feather-light powder for days after a dump thanks to its mainly north- facing slopes and impressive snowfall. With a top height of 2800m, there’s decent vertical to
WARTH-SCHRÖCKEN Owner of the lofty “snowiest ski area in the Alps” title, Warth-Schröcken is the ideal quiet base from which to ski the mighty Arlberg ski area, which encompasses 340km of pistes across St Anton, Lech and St Christoph. The bigger village of Warth (1500m) isn’t much to write home about — until you hear its snowfall average is 10.6m (this is measured at 1650m) and learn it’s mainly north-facing skiing. None of the slopes are all that steep, but there is a high chance you’ll find freshies on every run — especially if you source the right mountain guide — and it’s lift-linked to St Anton. Top tip: avoid weekends, this resort has a lot of local traffic.
I TALY ALAGNA
This small and remote resort, sitting at 1200m on the eastern fringe of the
Monterosa Ski Area, comprises the type of dark wooden farmhouses for which the Alps is famous. While the other Monterosa villages of Champoluc and Gressoney la Trinité have more life, it’s the mountains above Alagna that are most exciting. The area is known for its steep couloirs and dizzying vertical — the highest summit is Punta Dufour at 4634m and there are several hikeable peaks over 3000m. Yes there’s no ground-breaking après in Alagna, but your legs will be weary after a day in this cult resort. Top tip: splash out on a day’s heli-skiing if you can.
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Add Yellowknife Aurora viewinG onto your Canadian Ski Holiday
AN ULTIMATE ADD ON TO ANY CANADA SKI TRIP
Seeing the northern lights is at the top of everyone’s bucket list, and it’s easier than you think to tack it onto your ski trip in Canada this winter.
BY NATALIA JASTRZAB
Choose your own lights adventure: Spend a few nights at Aurora Village, a well-known viewing location in Yellowknife, owned and operated by First Nations people of the area. Relax by the fire in one of the teepees while you wait for the aurora, sipping a hot drink and grabbing dinner from the licensed dining hall. Or book a heated, 360-degree revolving swivel chair for a luxe experience. For those who want to get well off the beaten track, it’s also worth booking a stay at Blachford Lake Lodge, just a 25-minute bush plane ride from Yellowknife. A premium experience with an onsite chef and incredible activities, you can enjoy the northern lights from the hot tub or the huge Aurora-watching windows in the main lodge.
What else is there to do: Check out the thriving township of Yellowknife, with many shops, restaurants and local pubs. Or book tours such as dog sledding, snowshoeing, ice fishing and dream catcher lessons. Local tips: The aurora is at its best from 11pm to 1am, so be prepared to lose some sleep for a good cause. Also, your regular ski gear won’t cut it for the cold here - you’ll need to rent extra-warm jackets, pants, boots and gloves while visiting. You can book your flights to Yellowknife when you sort your international airfares from Australia - via Air Canada, or Qantas with Canadian domestic partner WestJet. Book your add on adventure through MySnow Holidays or Skimax Holidays. BONUS FLIGHT BOOKING HACK
BY PLANNING CAREFULLY, YOU CAN MAXIMISE YOUR CHANCES of seeing the natural phenomenon to beat them all - and get the pics to prove it. Here’s our guide to Aurora Viewing, with all the information you need to get planning. Where to go: Head to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada. A mix of perfect conditions ensures the town’s status as the Aurora Capital of the World. How to get there: Yellowknife is just a 2-hour direct flight from Vancouver, Edmonton or Calgary - so easy access from your skiing adventures throughout British Columbia or Alberta. When to go: Anytime from late December through to March, which times perfectly with the ski seasons. Plan to stay a minimum of four nights.
Combine Banff with a Yellowknife add-on, photo by Grant Gunderson
The Canadian ski season from December to March times perfectly with winter Aurora viewing in Yellowknife’s Northwest Territories, renowned to be the Aurora Capital of the World. Ask your preferred travel agent about Aurora Village or Blachford Lake Lodge as aurora viewing options to add onto your Canadian ski holiday. Manitoba Quebec
Newfoundland and Labrador
Call your travel agent or ski specialist Ski Max 02 9267 1655 My Snow Holidays 1300 697 669 NS PEI
Ontario Learn more: www.spectacularnwt.com/aurora
Silverstar Big White
Only a 2 hour direct flight from Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton
BY ALEX PARSONS Who’s the prettiest ski vil- lage in all the ancient land of Japan? Nozawa Onsen is. Here’s why. I FIRST VISITED NOZAWA ONSEN IN JAPAN IN FEBRUARY 2013 with my father and sister. It was seriously one of the best trips of my life, full of sushi and snow monkeys and bullet train shinkansens. We stayed in a tiny ryokan, a family owned lodge, with Japanese style breakfasts each day that included tofu, rice and seaweed. I was totally hooked. I quit my job, my lease and relationship and booked a flight to Japan the very next season. Destination, Narnia, aka Nozawa. Tucked into a mountain side, Nozawa Onsen is a fabled little feudal town full of winding cobbled streets, with family-run restaurants and quaint wooden bars hidden around each corner. Now mainly a farming town, it is said that Nozawa was first discovered by a Buddhist monk in 724 AD. This picture perfect village now boasts over 40 private and public onsens and is filled with steaming channels of water that add a mystical
MY SHINTO HOME
skiers and boards to the top faster but there’s still plenty of old world charm, like the secret Shinyu chairlift that crawls along through the pine trees, or the on-mountain restaurants with Austrian decor. Why Austrian? Nozawa is considered “the birthplace of Japan alpine skiing” when a young Austrian arrived at the village and taught the locals how to stem Christie back in 1912. CAFES, BARS & RESTAURANTS There’s over 100 restaurants and bars in this tiny village come winter ski season. Good news is everything is within walking distance - meandering through the snowy streets, with the lights of bars enticing you in, is great fun. For dinner, I frequented Billiken due to their resident cats, and enjoyed the cheap savoury pancakes at Akibitei Okonomiyaki. Stay bar is an underground rock bar that I’ve spent far too much time in, although NEO bar probably takes out the prize for coolest bar with snowboards on the wall, good music and cocktails. The next morning, it’s best to head to Craft Room below the gondola for the town’s best Australian style coffee. THE INFAMOUS FIRE FESTIVAL Perhaps Nozawa is best known for the Dosojin Fire Festival, a centuries old festival that goes for three days and involves all the 42 year old and 25 year old men in the village. The main event is on January 15 when busloads of tourists arrive to take in the mayhem. Expect a huge wooden three story effigy on fire and the locals battling each other with blazing sticks. The festival is designed to bring about a good harvest, health and fortune for the year. It’s a wild night with plenty of sake involved for both participants and spectators.
quality to the town. Locals boil eggs and nozawana (locally grown leaf vegetable) in the dedicated public Ogama hot spring. There are temples and shrines covered with snow, and Shinto statues dotted about the forest if you know where to find them. Then there’s the mountain itself, a snowy paradise with tree riding and wide open runs for carving and that one long 8km ski run with views across the Japan Alps. Be still, my heart. I lasted three seasons (2014/15, 2018/19 and 2019/20) and still wish I’d had more. I’ve hiked the orange-flecked mountains in autumn, I’ve ridden bottomless powder in winter and then watched the cherry blossoms bloom in spring. It is a beautiful place to spend time in. My digs were a tiny, tatami mat apartment where each morning I would pack up my toiletries and walk to my local onsen for a bath - even if it meant walking through 100cm of snow that had fallen the night before. It’s the place I really fell in love with snowboarding and where I had my
first backcountry tour which led me on my path as a backcountry guide in Australia’s ski season. Nozawa is a place that stays with you long after you’ve left. It fills your daydreams with its powder snow, its quaint village vibes and friendly locals, its natural hot springs and old world charm. It will call you back, just like it did to me. THE MOUNTAIN Mount Kenashi rises up to 1964 metres with a highest lifted elevation of 1650m with big, wide open runs for long turns as well as tricky little tree sections. There’s over 50 kilometres of marked trails and almost 300 hectares of skiable terrain. The mountain caters well to beginners but also has an abundance of deep and steep runs (Schneider, Utopia-A, Ushikubi, Kurokura) plus backcountry to be discovered with a guide. In 2020 a new gondola was built to get
ADVENTURES YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT Whistler 6 BY RACHAEL OAKES-ASH [ #SPONSORED ]
WHISTLER IS WAITING
With 8,171 acres of skiable terrain and an immense backcountry, boasting vast powder-filled bowls, expertly groomed corduroy and a vibrant village with shopping, spas, museums, and restaurants, Whistler is widely celebrated as the best mountain resort in the world. Exciting new additions and improvements this season will make getting around and exploring all the mountain has to offer even easier. With steeps, alpine bowls, easy cruisers and terrain parks, Whistler Blackcomb has the variety, the snow conditions, epic scenery and off snow activities to suit the entire family. YOU’VE WAITED SO LONG TO HIT THE SLOPES, SO LET US MAKE YOUR NEXT INTERNATIONAL SNOW ADVENTURE THE BEST ONE YET!
are open. You’ll be first to make your mark on pristine powder. 4 Spa daze: Go within and spend some Zen time in the Scandinave Spa nestled in the woods. This Finnish style spa is dedicated to relaxation with hot and cold open air baths, hammams, saunas and everything you need to soothe the adventurer within. Book a massage or spa treatment and make a day of it. 5 Heli yeah: Who doesn’t want endless untracked powder to themselves? Jump in a helicopter on a 4 or 6 run heli ski day with Whistler Heliskiing in Whistler’s backcountry alpine terrain. You’ll be guided by a pro, given a safety briefing, lunch and a ton of fun that will make your mates green with snow envy. 6 Cat skiing: Powder Mountain cat skiing serve up six to nine run cat ski days at Tricouni Mountain or Cypress Peak not far from Whistler. Guided by seasoned pros who know how to get your powder grins going, you’ll be given the time of your life and lunch thrown in for good measure.
WITH TWO MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN PEAKS and the largest ski resort in North America, Whistler Blackcomb is ripe for adventure. There’s more to do here in winter than just epic skiing and snowboarding. Put these on your list to enhance your next snow holiday. 1 High wire at dusk: Ziptrek Ecotours will get you flying through snow laden forests on a high wire. Catch the magical alpenglow from above the forest floor, or zip under snowflakes falling from the sky. This two hour adventure is the ultimate après for thrill seekers. 2 Vallea Lumina: Spend an hour or two on the Vallea Lumina light show trail in the Cougar Mountain forest. This family friendly adventure is a multi-media interactive journey for the young at heart who will delight in the light magic. 3 First tracks: Book in for Fresh Tracks, board the early morning gondola, head into the Roundhouse Lodge for a yummy breakfast and jump on your skis and board when the call is made that the runs
Photo: Tourism Whistler / Ben Girardi
Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
The Westin Resort & Spa
TOTAL $7,834 AUD
TOTAL $10,595 AUD
TOTAL $3,400 AUD
for four people
for four people
for two people
FAMILIES Stay 7 nights, Save 20% for dates in March 2023. Book by 15 November 2022.
FAMILIES Stay 10 nights, Save 15% for stays between 10–30 April 2023. Book by 15 November 2022. Package includes 10 nights for 2 adults + 2 children in interconnecting Deluxe View Rooms (upgraded from Fairmont Rooms), 9 day lift passes and return transfers. T&Cs apply.
COUPLES Stay 7 nights, Save 40% for stays between 9–30 April 2023. Book by 15 November 2022. Package includes 7 nights for 2 adults in a Deluxe Studio Suite, 6 day lift passes and return transfers. T&Cs apply.
Package includes 7 nights for 2 adults + 2 children in a Premier Studio and interconnecting Hilton Room, 6 day life passes and return transfers. T&Cs apply.
To celebrate the first full season Australians can travel to Canada since 2019, Mogul Ski World is giving you the chance to win AUD $2000 holiday spending money , when you book a 2023 Whistler package for February, March or April. Check the website for details or reach out via email.
1800 335 724 // reservations @ mogulski.com.au
MY FIRST SKI RESORT LOVE:
Sexy S-curves on un- touched, ivory meadows. Powder snow tickling my earlobes, caressing branches of Aspen firs. Sparkling blue-sky days. Rambunctious nights.
BY KATE ALLMAN
THEY SAY YOU NEVER FORGET YOUR FIRST LOVE. Aspen Snowmass and I are approaching the 10-year anniversary of our first date, but my memories of her are as crisp as the corduroy groomers she greeted me with over coffee each morning. She was my first North American ski trip – my first long haul flight across the pacific to the land of stars and stripes. I had finished a year of university and was staring down three months of summer holidays in Australia – eight months before I would have a chance to click boots into bindings again. It was time to pop my Aspen cherry. After 16 cramped hours riding an economy cabin between Sydney and Los Angeles, my first impressions of Aspen’s beauty were muted by the classic talk to the hand manoeuvres of airlines: my luggage was lost. When we finally located it in the labyrinth of security screenings that is Los Angeles International, there were overnight delay and next-day delays. A day’s journey became nearly three. Eventually, flying into Aspen airport – a dramatic event as pilots navigate over a cauldron of surrounding mountains to drop into the scenic valley with its snow-laden airstrip – was coloured by my jetlagged frustration. But I made it to Snowmass village in time for a romantic evening: a blizzard swirling into town.
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