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6 Ski and Snowboard Mountains that are Almost More Fun in the Summer

The resorts that we ski and snowboard at in the winter don't disappear once the snow stops falling, and many of them are taking advantage of their infrastructure to transform themselves into outdoor playgrounds in the summer months.  With plentiful lodging, quality dining and stunning mountain views, these resorts have a lot to offer a vacationer in the summer. Many offer kids programs, and activities for all ages and interest.

Check out our list of six ski and snowboard resorts that are worth a visit in the summer!

Skiing in July... in Vermont?

 
 

The Craftsbury Outdoor Center has been storing snow since the winter as part of an experimental "snow farming" project working to see if snow can be stored from one season to another.  Many, around the world, are hoping to use this technique in the future to help build early-season bases, and alleviate some of their dependance on natural snowfall as climate change makes weather more variable.  Several major events from the Iditarod to the Hahnenkamm World Cup ski races in Austria, now depending on the technique.

It will be really interesting to see the capabilities of snow storage technology and its impact on the future of winter sports as the technology develops, but for now, it's fun to watch people fool around in a pile of snow in the middle of summer!

Sand Skiing in Peru!

 
 

It's been so hot at our headquarters in Denver over the last couple weeks that it's difficult to believe it will ever snow again.

Jesper Tjäder and Emma Dahlström with GoPro have one idea on how to get your turns - and even hit kickers and rails - without waiting for the white fluffy stuff. Watch these skiers hike up and then shred the Cerro Blanco dune in Peru!

Undoubtedly rad, but all I can think about is the SAND IN THEIR BOOTS!!

The Catamount Trail: Vermont's 300-Mile Nordic Ski Trail

Did you know that if you strap on a pair of cross-country skis just east of the Deerfield River at Vermont’s southern boarder and head north, you can ski on uninterrupted trail until you arrive at the Canadian boarder 300-miles north?

The Catamount Trail, which began in 1984 as the thesis project of Steve Bushey, Paul Jarris and Ben Rose when they were students at the University of Vermont, is now the longest uninterrupted cross-country skiing trail in North America. Its 300-miles of trail, between Vermont’s southern to northern boarders, were painstakingly pieced together by the Catamount Trail Association (CTA) over 20 years. The trail connects vast wilderness areas to old timber roads; it crosses farmland and protected forests, and caters to skiers of a variety of levels.


The trail is a vast cooperative effort, passing through both public and private land, and demanding hours of volunteer labor to maintain; it reflects a state-wide dedication to a no-frills outdoor culture and the preservation of the state's long history of winter sports.


Unlike many aspects of the winter sports world, especially those associated with Nordic skiing’s brasher alpine cousin, the Catamount Trail is explicitly designed to be accessible and inexpensive, where skiers are drawn by the state’s stunning natural beauty rather than by high speed trams, luxury accommodations, or glitzy off-slope shopping. The trail is the result of a rugged culture that is increasingly absent from a skiing world dominated by corporate giants Vail and Alterra.

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But in Vermont — and it’s eastern neighbor New Hampshire — you can still find trail systems maintained by passionate volunteers, mountains where the owner personally greets their customers each morning and, occasionally, lodge beers for less than $5. It is a land that respects rigorous exercise and bone chilling winds, where winter sports are part of a time-honored way of life.

Ben Rose, one of the Catamount Trail’s founders, and the Executive Director of the Green Mountain Club, describes the project’s unique vision: It’s a “very intimate way to see the landscape. Like hiking the Long Trail, skiing the Catamount Trail is a way to see Vermont from its heart.”

Although few people actually ski the whole trail — as it’s always not easy to camp along the route in winter — few people have actually skied the whole trail, each winter it’s estimated to support over 8,000 skier days.

 Photo by  Simon Matzinger  on  Unsplash

On their website the CTA states that their goal “is to create a future in which Vermont is home to a world-class network of locally-supported winter back-country trails and terrain accessible to outdoor travelers of all abilities and means.” As winter recreation is becoming increasingly corporate across the US, organizations like the CTA will play an increasingly important role in ensuring that winter sports like cross country skiing and snowshoeing remain accessible and inexpensive as they have been for centuries.

A lonely stretch along the Catamount Trail is about as far as you could get spiritually from, say, Aspen’s glamorous Little Nell’s bar, but for many, the former encapsulated the soul of winter sports in a way the latter new can.

This Kickstarter Wants to Save you from Flimsy Ice Scrapers

The makers of the Tusk claim it's the ultimate survival shovel, with four tools in one: a shovel, a steal digging spade, an extra-wide scraper, and a squeegee.  It's built for those freezing morning when it's dumped two feet of snow and you just want to get to the mountain. It's designed to save its users from ever having to handle one of those double-sided scraper-brushes -  that are never quite long enough, or break just at the wrong moment - again.

They've got several different packages and color option, and they promise delivery to their backers by this coming winter.

There's only two days left in this kickstarter so check it out by Friday (6/29) if you're interested in backing the project!

Grass Skis! - a short climate change film by Carbondale students

"Colorado, a beautiful place of wonder and enchantment... and now you can enjoy the warm winters with GRASS SKIS!" 

This short film was created by Carbondale students as a part of the Lens on Climate Change (LOCC) program.  LOCC is a project run by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), that helps Colorado middle and high school students tell the stories of climate changes' impacts on their lives and communities through film.

The students who made this film chose to illustrate the very real threat that climate change poses to the future of skiing and snowboarding - an essential part of their Colorado mountain town lifestyle. They begin with a spoof advertisement for "Grass Skis" - no snow, no problem, just strap on some grass skis this winter!

Then some local experts share some pretty alarming data on climate change in Colorado: "The climate science that looks at this particular region will tell you that in 100 years the climate of Aspen will resemble the climate of Amarillo, TX" - Matthew Hamilton, Sustainability Director for Aspen Ski Co.

We hope that grass skis will not have to become a reality... and that butter won't be replacing ski wax any time soon!

We Asked Winter Olympians about Climate Change, Here's What They Said

We asked some 2018 Winter Olympians about climate change, disappearing winters, and renewable energy.  They share their experiences, and hope for the future of winter sports below.

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"I support a 100% Renewable Energy future because fighting climate change is not only essential for global stability, it is an opportunity for our global community to come together to achieve the impossible. We can achieve a 100% renewable energy future and along the way we can eradicate hunger, poverty and opportunity inequality. Together we can form a compassionate, thriving and sustainable global community. I have had the privilege of travelling the world as a professional skier, and along the way I have seen that anything is possible when we work towards a common goal."

-Noah Hoffman, Olympic X-Country Skier 2018


"Global warming is having a huge impact on the winter sports that we love. As a winter sports athlete, I have seen many events get canceled in recent years in due to lack of snow. This is happening in places that are known for having huge amounts of snow throughout the winter. In order to protect our planet and the sports we love, we have to move forward towards having a 100% renewable energy future. I hope that future generations will be able to enjoy the winter activities that we have been lucky enough to grow up with."

-Mick Dierdorff, Olympic Snowboarder


"Honestly, everything that I enjoy doing in this world is made possible because we have a lot of snow, clean water and healthy mountains. As soon as those things stop being true, everything I love to do in this world will be gone, and I really just don’t want to wait around watching until that happens. It isn’t a matter of if we should change anymore, but how do we change. Each and every step we take, it is important that it is in the right direction. Because hey, we all want to go ski some powder right?

"If we want to keep doing the things we love, and using the earth as our playground, there has to be a change. I want to go skiing for the rest of my life, and I want the next generations to be able to ski. I want to be able to surf in a clean ocean, and I want it to stay that way for everyone who graces this earth. It's as simple as that."

- Casey Andringa, Olympic Freestyle Skier 2018


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"I have spent over a decade traveling around the world to the same snow destinations to compete in World Cup competitions. Over the course of my career, I have seen first hand how climate change has affected many of these places. What were once "winter wonderlands" are now the only places that can host an early season world cup. Places that typically had normal winters now are forced to battle rains, warm temperatures and little to no snow.  Without trucking in man-made snow or machines that can make snow above freezing, these venues could no longer host a competition. All this has happened in just the past decade, imagine how it could be if we continue on this path for another decade! We need to treat ourselves and our environment better and that's why I support 100% renewables."

- Bryan Fletcher, Olympic Nordic Combined Athlete

Keep Litter off our Mountains!

Melting snow can uncover hidden treasures on ski mountains. 

Single gloves, dropped goggles, abandoned poles and even whole skis emerge from their icy hiding placing as temperatures warm.  If you know someone who has worked ski patrol or snow removal, you've likely heard stories of rolls of cash, gold watches, and even mysteries like a full set of dentures being left behind by melting snow. But in addition to these inadvertently dropped and lost valuables, mountain resorts are increasingly battling a more worrying collection hidden beneath the snow: thousands of pounds of cigarette buts, plastic bottles and other litter.

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Visit a ski resort during the summer, and you're likely to hike past a few stashes of red bull cans that never made it into the recycling bin, or piles of decomposing cigarette butts, carelessly disposed of months ago in the snow.

This is a terrible legacy that ski and snowboard resorts bear. As outdoor enthusiasts and appreciators of the natural world, we believe it is our responsibility to protect and advocate for our environment, not contribute to its further degradation through carelessness and lack of foresight. Snowriders wants to change this dirty legacy of ski resorts by committing to more responsible stewardship of our mountains. 

This commitment comes in two parts:

1) Don't be part of the problem:

Do. Not. Litter. Remember you are a guest in a wild and beautiful landscape while you're skiing. You wouldn't throw your trash all over a national forest or city park (I hope), so don't do it while you're skiing or riding, either!

2) Become part of the solution:

As individuals, we can't solve this garbage problem alone, but we can take responsibility for it. The environmental impacts of our winter sports are the problem of every skier and snowboarder. Become a good steward! Help clean up the places we play! 

Check if your local mountain holds a volunteer clean-up day over the summer, or before next season begins in the fall. Here are a few great clean-up opportunities on our radar:


Alta Ski Area Clean Up - Saturday, July 8, 2017; 8:00am to 12:00pm

"Join us for a fun day of all over the mountain. It's not just a trash clean up, but a treasure hunt sometimes. After a lovely lift ride to the top of Collins, we will leisurely take our routes downhill. It's a stewardship exploration."

Keystone Resort Clean Up Day - Tuesday, June 12; 8am

"Join fellow employees and community members as we pick up litter on the mountain, roads, and base areas."

Sierra-at-Tahoe "Keep Sierra Clean Day" - TBD, likely October, 2018

For the last 11 years, Sierra-at-Tahoe has gathered their community in the fall to clean up their mountain playground before the snow starts falling for the season. Keep an eye our for the announcement of this year's event.

Respect the Mountain Project, across Europe - multiple events

Throughout the summer, the Respect the Mountain Project hosts events across europe - from Spain to Romania - to help clean tonnes of trash strewn across the alps each winter. In Europe this summer? Check out their extensive events calendar to do your part.

Multi-Mountain Season Passes Available for the 2018/2019 Season (other than Epic and Ikon)

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If you've been paying attention at all, you know that Alterra Mountain Co. announced the launch of its shiny new Ikon Pass this spring. The full 2018/19 adult pass, currently going for $999, gives you unlimited access to 12 resorts including Mammoth, CA, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CA, and Winter Park, CO as well as 7 days at each 13 other resorts including Jackson Hole, WY, and Killington, VT. 

Since the announcement of the Ikon Pass, much time and many published words have been dedicated to debating the relative advantages of the new Ikon Pass and Vail's Epic Pass. (The Epic Pass, available for $899, gives you unlimited access to 19 North American resorts including Whistler Blackholm, BC, Park City, UT, and Breckenridge, CO. It also gives you 7 days at Telluride, plus a number of days at resorts in the Canadian Rockies, Japan and across Europe).

But, if you haven't yet been wooed by one of these giants, there are other multi-mountain passes out there that may suit more niche and local interests.  Check out our list below!  Note that many of these passes have different levels at different prices. Full adult pass prices are listed below, but check out their websites for more options.

 

Colorado - 

CO Ski Country Gold Pass - TBD - a fully transferable pass that give you full access to all 23 Colorado Ski Country member resorts with no blackout dates.

Colorado Gems Card - $25 - gives you two 2-for-1 lift tickets OR two 30% off lift tickets at each of the ten Colorado Gems Resorts.

Summit Value Pass - $549 - give you full access to Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, and access with limited holiday restriction to Breckend

 

New England- 

Peak Pass - $829 - full pass give you full unrestricted access to seven New England resorts including Mount Snow and Attitash.

 

Utah- 

Yeti Pass - $649 - gets you 1 day pass at every Utah ski and snowboard resort.

Ski3 Pass - $759 - valid at Belleayre, Gore & Whiteface Mountains.

Gold Pass - $4,900 - a fully transferable pass (your friends and family can use it when you aren't) that gives you 50 days or more at each of Utah's 14 ski and snowboard resorts.

Silver Pass - $3,150 - gets you 30 or more days at each of Utah'a 14 ski and snowboard resorts.

Reciprocal Pass - depends - if you purchase a season pass Beaver Mountain, Brian Head and Sundance, you get three free days at each of 15 reciprocal pass program partners.

 

Other National/International Pass Programs:

Freedom Pass - depends - if you buy a season pass at any of the 14 "soul filled" participating mountains across north america, including Magic Mountain, VT and Cooper Mountain, CO, you get three free days at all of the other participating resorts.

Mountain Collective - $429 (limited time sale!) - gives you two days each at 16 premier resorts across North America, including Toas, Alta, and Revelstoke.

Powder Alliance - depends - if you buy a season pass at any of the 19 Powder Alliance member resorts, including Loveland Ski Area, CO, and Sugar Bowl Resort, CA, you get three free days at the other 18.