From dizzying altitudes and near-endless trails to spectacular views and glorious weather, mountain resorts are the homes away from home for many during the winter months. There will always be a friendly competition between skiing and snowboarding preferences, but there isn’t any question about what constitutes prime conditions: fresh powder, an array of slopes and stellar views. These first-rate resorts are only but a handful of what our planet has to offer…
Words: Nicole Wongwww.herschelsupply.com
Situated near Mt. Yōtei, in Hokkaido, Japan, award-winning Niseko offers four world class resorts with renowned ski terrain for skiers and snowboarders of varying levels. The Hanazono resort delivers a variety of courses for beginners; the Grand Hirafu is the largest of the four, with the most fresh powder (at 50 feet per season); Niseko Village has the longest skiing and snowboarding trails; and Niseko Annupuri provides groomed runs and spectacular views from the slopes. With both off-piste and sidecountry riding available, Niseko has tons of options for powder seekers.
The largest ski resort in North America, Whistler Blackcomb has experienced many memorable moments in its 50 years of existence, including Guinness World Records and hosting the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Just two hours north of Vancouver, British Columbia, the resort receives almost 40 feet of snow a year, and offers more than 200 trails along 8,171 acres of terrain. The resort also has one of the longest ski seasons in North America.
Located in the French Alps, Chamonix should be on every skiing and riding bucket list. It hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924, and is a resort of epic proportions with a network of over 60 chairlifts. With its proximity to glaciers and permanent snow fields, Chamonix has a long season with lifts open until May. For the experienced, its off-piste terrain is world-renowned, but the sheer size of Chamonix means it has something suited to every level.
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Located 102 miles from Santiago, Ski Portillo is the oldest ski area in South America and sits high up in the Andes — the world’s longest mountain range. This Chilean resort is the training location for many Olympic national ski teams, given its summer snow season and incredible conditions. With the highest ski point at 10,860 feet and an average annual snowfall of 27 feet, Portillo’s unparalleled runs across 1,235 acres are accessible by 15 lifts. And considering the resort’s sole hotel can only house 450 guests, skiers and snowboarders need not worry about line-ups.
Photography: Pablo de Sousa Fotografia/Shutterstock
The embodiment of luxury in the realm of mountain resorts is found in St. Moritz. Often visited by those in the upper echelons of the sporting world, the Swiss resort is home to the steepest starting slope in Switzerland atop its local mountain Corviglia. There is a total of 217 miles of piste over a number of areas, which includes freeride slopes and World Cup-quality runs. A winter resort pioneer since the 19th century, St. Moritz’s worldwide reputation as a premier alpine destination still stands to this day, supported by its modern facilities, quality runs and superb après-ski amenities.
Photography: Dmitry Chulov/Shutterstock
Dubbed “The Big One”, Jackson Hole, Wyoming is known for its steep and diverse terrain, so it’s a popular choice for advanced skiers and riders looking to accumulate vertical stats. So far, the resort recognizes just over 350 skiers who have recorded one million vertical feet (and counting). Despite Jackson Hole’s reputation, there are 1,250 acres of non-advanced terrain for intermediates as well.
Photography: Kevin Cass/Shutterstock
Photography: K. Roy Zerloch/Shutterstock