The 8 Best Resorts For Powder Skiing
Most skiers (or boarders) I know, know the draw fresh powder brings even if they don't actively hunt it out each time they go away. They're still excited at the prospect of fresh snow overnight. It's something every skier gets more excited about than a 10 year old at Christmas. Snow.
We, who get away but once a year, know that sometimes you get lucky. That family friendly resort you found for a bargain has just had a huge downfall of snow and it sits there for days waiting for you to come and treat it to some naughty little lines. It's these resorts no fully fledged powder hound has on their bucket list. And families that frequent the small villages leave anything non-groomed well alone. It's there for the taking and we're mighty pleased about it.
Though inevitably talk turns to the best resorts for powder skiing and there are names that come up again and again. I stand by the fact that the best place to ski powder is where nobody else is. But if you won't leave it to luck then where is it best to hedge your bets? Places that crop up in powder fables time and time again. Let me tell you of but a few.
And remember, don't go hiking out into the mountains without a qualified guide and adequate safety gear. There were enough piste side avalanches this year to have us thinking we need avalanche packs for blue runs let alone the great unknown.
Our proclaimed powder palace. It's not irregular for it to snow almost every day from the end of December into March. Storms roll in from Siberia depositing its fluffy load over Hokkaido. One of the only places I've been where you can ski fresh tracks down the side of a piste, catch the lift back up and by the time you get there the tracks you made have been filled in as if it were but a dream.
WHY: So much snow you won't know what to do with yourself.
WHY NOT: It's getting more Westernised, good to tag in some smaller resorts to make sure you get the most out of the culture.
Often regarded as Niseko's little sister, Rusutsu is much, much more. It gets the same amount of snow as Japan's powder capital but none of the crowds. This is the family friendly resort where you luck out on powder stashes in Europe. Only there's fresh powder every day. They've opened up all terrain inside the boundaries, meaning you can pick tree lines all day long. What it lacks in steepness, it more than makes up for in fun. A resort that feels like an adults soft play pen on steroids.
WHY: Fresh tree runs all day every day.
WHY NOT: As a resort, there's not much more to it than the two big hotels. Very kitsch.
We love this episode from Salomon Freeski TV on the side country park in Rusutsu - well worth taking a look.
With an average snowfall of around 12 metres, the king/queen of North America has plenty to offer those looking for steep slopes and fresh powder. There's so much that can be easily accessed from the lifts that it makes long treks irrelevant. Save your legs for the descents rather than getting to them. It's a world class resort for so many reasons making its off piste credentials the icing on the cake.
WHY: The largest ski area in North America with plenty of lift served itineraries.
WHY NOT: It draws the crowds. Well known routes tend to get tracked out quickly.
After 49cm of snowfall in 48 hours Whistler Blackcomb created this little video on 3rd March 2017.
It's a mountaineering mecca that draws the free-riders by the thousands. Don't expect remote and empty wilderness here. But, what the resort does have is potential. Whether it's the Vallee Blanche and it's practically day long descent or simply grabbing some of Chamonix's steep faces, glacial runs, trees or couloirs that are seemingly in unlimited abundance, when the snows good it doesn't get better.
WHY: World famous off-piste descents.
WHY NOT: Can get crowded quickly and I hope you like buses.
Salomon Freeski TV has done it again - chasing the storm in Chamonix. Taking last minute skiing to an extreme.
Engelberg is probably the one resort you won't have heard about on this list. The lesser known Swiss gem is high priority for any off-piste aficionado but relatively unknown to the wider market. They're starting to get their name out there but we really wish they wouldn’t. The glacial Titlis Mountain packs Engelberg's punch and gets more than its fair share of snow.
WHY: Relatively unknown, so no long queues and plenty of snow.
WHY NOT: The resort isn't the most convenient and you may need to catch the bus depending on where you stay.
St Anton, Lech & Zurs, Austria
With the highest average annual snowfall of any major resort in the Alps the 'St Anton, Lech and Zurs' ski area is a good bet for practising your deep snow techniques. If you were to pick one place to head for it would be Stuben. By far the quietest village and with the same snowfall, it means plenty of spots to explore where it'll just be you and the locals.
WHY: Highest average annual snowfall of any major resort in the Alps.
WHY NOT: From St Anton the link over can be challenging, especially for beginners.
The choice is vast in the Lake Tahoe area but it's Heavenly with the best tree runs, combined with wide open powder fields. It has a laid back atmosphere in California and a party-till-you-drop vibe over the state line in Nevada. From the Bug Dipper chair, you can access the Mott Bowl without a need to hike out due to the slow Mott Canyon chair. Do not forget your avalanche gear.
WHY: Plenty to explore from the lifts or by snowcat.
WHY NOT: It's a fairly long flight - but we believe it's well worth the flight time.
Though these 8 resorts are in no particular order, If you had to pick one resort for the title of powder king, it would have to be Niseko. It has almost unrivalled amounts of snow each year but it's the consistency in which it comes that's key. You're almost guaranteed fresh snow if you're there in January or February. Not many other places in the world can give you that.
And if we're sticking with Europe then it has to be St Anton for us. The extent of the slopes now linked with Lech and Zurs, the consistently high annual snowfall and the quieter areas such as Stuben and Rendl all add up to make the king of après, the top spot for powder seekers as well.