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Best lift-served off piste in Europe/N America?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Having missed out on most of my 2019/20 skiing, for obvious reasons, I'm planning a 3-4 week trip for next season.

If priorities are 1. lots of snow, 2. steep, interesting terrain, 3. not TOO crowded, quickly tracked out, where should I go?

I am considering Verbier, where I skied many years ago - but everyone says it's crowded now - or Snowbird in Utah?

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

C
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Verbier for the best lift served terrain. Utah has a better snow record. Everywhere good tracks quickly straight off the lifts but outside the main holiday weeks Verbier is not crowded and you can find untracked stuff relatively easily
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@Contrarian, We've done a couple of Utah trips, staying in SLC and Park City. If you don't mind a bit of driving, there's loads to do. We particularly liked Solitude.
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Thanks both of you.

Yes, I like the look of Solitude. It's not a bit limited in extent?
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Contrarian,

We've been here the last 2 years, for 4 days each time. What a place! Very Happy

It should fit your criteria of "best lift-served, untracked, off piste."

https://silvertonmountain.com/
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Thanks Bergmeister.

I previously considered Telluride, so perhaps I could base myself there and visit Silverton.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Verbier's always been popular. Off piste in Europe is a different proposition from North America, as perhaps you're aware.
It has the advantage of a significantly larger connected lift system; you could sensibly stay in one location without getting bored;
the food will be more varied and better; there's "apres ski" if you like that sort of thing.

Snowbird has the steeps, but unless you know your way around then you're going to be taking sloppy seconds unless you have local knowledge/ access. It's quickly tracked out. Powder Mountain's not a long drive from there and is kind of the opposite... in Utah, mobility is a good thing. Snowbird isn't large, especially not if you don't know your way around. Solitude/ Brighton and all those places are good and also "limited in extent" - that's kind of why I would stay in SLC and drive. I would not want to spend 4 weeks in Snowbird - the food alone would drive me nuts (the resort controls it all).

My own view is that the best place is where the snow's falling.
That explains for example why some people find Snowbird underwhelming, and others enjoy the world's best powder.

Small places in Colorado sound good, but that's maybe because I've not been to them.
Wolf Creek is on my list, when the conditions are good of course.

I like to leave things flexible for that reason.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Thanks philwig, that's great advice.

I do prefer to stay in one place, so perhaps I need Europe for the extensive lift systems.
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@Contrarian, Given your lengthy stay, makes NA a reasonable choice. If I was going across the pond, I think I'd either do a combo UT/WY trip (great aircraft museum on road from SLC to Jackson Hole) or do a bit of a European tour. Following the snow.
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SLC is sufficiently close to lots of areas that it is a possible compromise. Banff is another possibility, although I'd be bored for that length of time. Whistler, same thing.
Personally, when I was limited to one location, I also chose those mega-Euro resorts.
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@philwig, I might do that too.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Contrarian,

Here's my report from our February Colorado road trip.

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=152521#4592969

I know you said you prefer to stay in one place but it may give you an idea or two that you hadn't considered. There are some unknown, off the beaten track, gems out there - like Sunlight Mountain, near Glenwood Springs. We were there on a midweek powder day and had the mountain to ourselves. It has some ferocious steep stuff and we were still getting first tracks when the lifts closed! Very Happy

Other places that locals recommended (but that we didn't have time to visit) included Wolf Creek and Monarch Mountain.

Alta (in Utah, which we skied on a previous trip) would also fit your requirement of steep lift-served and not tracked out too quickly.
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@Contrarian, if you decide on Verbier get a season/annual pass when the promo is on pre-season. It also includes free days in Chamonix and Courmayeur (Hellbronner) in case you want a bit of variety. And ping @Stevesparks and @rungsp about accommodation in Le Chable where there’s a good seasonaire community
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Thanks guys. I've got some excellent leads to follow.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Verbier is better and worse than it was 20 years ago. Better becuse it went so far upmarket there are almost no skibums, so the hardcore stuff gets touched less. Worse because it went up market and costs more + it doesn't snow as much as it used to.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
1. Verbier
2. Chamonix
3. La Grave

1. Jackson Hole
2. Telluride
3. Kirkwood
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Idris wrote:
Verbier is better and worse than it was 20 years ago. Better becuse it went so far upmarket there are almost no skibums, so the hardcore stuff gets touched less. Worse because it went up market and costs more + it doesn't snow as much as it used to.


^ some truth in that Very Happy

Fwiw : St Moritz is meant to be awesome. Fantastic terrain, snow and lift system. However.. gone so far up market the only people skiing are millionares in fur coats and Tag Heuer watches : no one else ventures a yard beyond the piste marker when it snows. Sounds like nirvana : kind of...
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Have you considered Japan purely because it snows so much, daily if you are lucky!
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1. Val D'sere/Tignes - Can be busy but great lift-served off piste and more with a little hiking
2. Les Arcs/La Plagne - North face of Bellecote (LP) has some of the best off-piste skiing anywhere plus lots of other routes, and gets skiied out less quickly out and Aiguille Rouge (LA) - whether the itinerary routes off the front or off-piste off the back.
3. Zermatt

I've skiied a lot in Japan and the States. Runs are generally much shorter than the resorts above and in Utah and Colorado you often have to hike to get to the routes - hard work at that elevation!
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With 3-4 weeks to play with, I'd pick somewhere that's harder to get to more off the beaten path. Utah is great, but Alta/Bird in particular on a powder day are crazy. I'd consider the powder highway in BC. Between Kicking horse, Revelstoke, Whitewater and Red you could have an amazing road trip, also with endless possibilities for cat, heli or touring if that's your thing. Good steeps, amazing tree skiing and super friendly locals.
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Powder highway in BC might be your best bet. The resorts are not yet (at least fully) on epic/iKON so not crowded which apparently has been a problem in USA (big sky, Jackson hole etc.). Huge advantage over Europe is that you don't need partners to get off piste.
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boarder2020 wrote:
Huge advantage over Europe is that you don't need partners to get off piste.


Why not? Just because its avi controlled doesn't mean it is smart to ski alone off piste. It isn't.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Quote:

Why not? Just because its avi controlled doesn't mean it is smart to ski alone off piste. It isn't.


Well I guess our risk tolerance is quite different. My only real concern being alone would be tree wells. If I was to get hurt I would expect to see someone else (resorts are not that quiet!), failing that patrol sweep, plus i let people know I'm going out so if I'm not back they would alert search and rescue. Would be happy to hear your concerns.
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Georgia
3-4 week roadtrip
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@boarder2020, yes tree wells indeed. Been in one, wasn't fun. Was also "with a buddy", which frankly is overrated! He had no clue I'd gone down or gotten myself out. I also ski at a place with vast in-bounds backcountry...can't rely on others or the sweep, its too big.
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boarder2020 wrote:
Powder highway in BC might be your best bet. The resorts are not yet (at least fully) on epic/iKON so not crowded which apparently has been a problem in USA (big sky, Jackson hole etc.). Huge advantage over Europe is that you don't need partners to get off piste.


That area is huge: probably about 200 miles top to bottom. It's a bit like saying the whole of the French alps.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Scooter in Seattle wrote:
@boarder2020, yes tree wells indeed. Been in one, wasn't fun. Was also "with a buddy", which frankly is overrated! He had no clue I'd gone down or gotten myself out.

@Scooter in Seattle, sounds like you're confirming @boarder2020!

Quote:
I also ski at a place with vast in-bounds backcountry...can't rely on others or the sweep, its too big.

If it's inbound, it's not back country. It would be swept by patrol.

Never want to rely on it. But that's a different calculation. Like some people wear their beepers inbound...
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@abc, yes I confirmed that skiing alone exposes one to additional risk, particularly tree wells. But also, that having a buddy can create a false sense of security; mine was no help that day (though he might have been, if I had been unable to self-extricate). I'm not going to lecture anybody about safety; its boring and besides I've done enough dumb stuff so I'm not worthy.

The terrain I refer to is called the "South Backcountry" at Crystal Mtn. Unusual type of terrain: in-bounds, gated, hike/traverse required, avi controlled and patrolled. Wish more areas had this.

As a possibly interesting aside, the chair that gets you into this area was destroyed a few years ago by an avalanche caused by a patrol bomb.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
If it's inbounds (patrolled and avy controlled) it's in no way comparable to backcountry. The fact it's a hike or there is a gate makes zero difference, except perhaps psychologically of thinking it's somehow more "extreme".

Most in bounds deaths are caused by collision (with tree or person), falling off a lift, or tree wells. I'm yet to see a death caused by an injured person not being found and dying of exposure/hypothermia,but maybe it's happened? There was the kid that got left on a lift and had to jump off breaking his legs, but not really relevant to off-piste skiing.

Of course I will make more conservative choices when alone, and carry a whistle to alert others were I to get injured. I still consider it less dangerous than the drive to the resort and the statistics support me.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

That area is huge: probably about 200 miles top to bottom. It's a bit like saying the whole of the French alps.


Yes but it's a relatively common road trip, perfectly doable with 3-4 weeks. Or you can just do a smaller area (e.g. between Calgary and revelstoke). The resorts in that area fit OPs criteria pretty well: lots of snow, plenty of steeps and advanced terrain, not overly busy. Kicking horse and revelstoke would probably be at the top of that list.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Never been but I've heard Andermatt is one of the best.

And then there is of course La Grave.

Meeting all three of the criteria is the tricky part - Les Contamines for example gets good snow and outside the peak times would be quiet but it's not gnarly.

To get uncrowded and good snow sometimes it's about timing and being able to jump in quickly. Or just luck.
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@Contrarian,

based on your criteria

1: St Moritz
2: Andermatt
3: Disentis
4: Montafon
5: Val d'Annivers

But all depends on what kind of weather systems that are persistant during the season. Lots of low pressure from the south and the list would be very different. Anyway, Andermatt gets snow from all directions and could be your safest bet.
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@Woosh, St.Moritz and lots of snow? sorry, but no. Too inner alpine for that
Etc etc
Weird list...
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Ruling out the usual suspects (La Grave, Verbier, Arlberg, ...) where you WILL have powder-stress...

These resorts are less over-run and work most of the time:
-Andermatt.
-Gressoney.
-Serre-Chevalier.
-Puy-saint-vincent (oops did i write that?)
-Livigno.

And in case there is a good retour d'est or a southerly flow:
-Montgenevre
-Abries-Ristolas


Also read this
https://wepowder.com/en/forum/topic/212343
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@Langerzug,

Was based on all his criteria. St Moritz is probably the place where you will be able to find very good snow a week after last snowfall as the competition for powder is so low. In addition to that, there are great steep lines just off the lifts. Yes, it has not the record for the most snowfall, but in my opinion, that is compensated by the terrain and lack of powder competition.

Andermatt can see snow from all directions and has great lift accesed terrain. Also, great touring terrain.

Disentis has great terrain and lack of competition for the snow. Good snow record.

Same goes for Montafon. Great terrain. Little powder panic compared to St Anton.

Same for Val d'Annivers. Few people compared to Verbier, but awesome terrain.
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@Woosh, In St.Moritz it can happen that snow fails to fall for weeks, and then, when it falls, it tends to be just very thin...
Like so many, you are making the mistake to focus on St.Anton, where powderstress is immense indeed. But much less so at the Lech-Warth side...afterall, for snow it simply has to be Arlberg, hardly anything comes near to that...
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I cant really comment on N American off piste

Re Europe, will you be getting guides, or just exploring yourself? Problem is some of best if piste really needs guides, you just wont find your own way, and / or avoid avalanche danger zones. E.g.in Tignes you will never take on Mickey's ears on your own, and you wont be allowed into thr National Park de Vanoise which has some of best off-piste anywhere. If you are getting guides, most big high resorts will offer almost unlimited possibilities unless snow is unusually bad. In terms of list accessed
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
USA:

Squaw Valley very easy access to steep terrain. Snow tends to be a bit heavy and a bit hit and miss.

Big sky - but depends on the main gondola being open. A bit tame otherwise.

Jackson hole - didn't "click" for me but I can see the appeal, great out of bounds.
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Verbier is good but let's be honest, it is busy (and expensive).

Of the places I've been in the US/Canada, then Jackson Hole.

However, if you're going for 3-4 weeks . . . it's gotta be two centre or a road trip. And then I'd probably say US or Canada e.g. Kicking Horse, Revelstoke (and don't underestimate Lake Louise).
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Actually scrap my comments above. Best place in USA. Silverton in Colorado. Tries to be US version of La Grave. @bergmeister, has a good write up somewhere. In fact it's because the write up I went!
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