Three More Ski Resorts Join The Mountain Collective

The Mountain Collective offers great savings for skiersWay back in August of last year we told you about the Mountain Collective, a group of independent ski resorts in North America that had joined forces to offer skiers and snowboarders access to each of their mountains at an amazing price. The collaboration between these iconic ski destinations was unprecedented at the time and yesterday it got even better.

The resorts that were on board at the launch of the Mountain Collective included Alta in Utah, Aspen/Snowmass in Colorado, Jackson Hole in Wyoming and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows in California. On Tuesday it was announced that three more great resorts would join their ranks as Snowbird, Mammoth Mountain and Whistler Blackcomb were all added to the Collective.

The inclusion of these new resorts makes an already amazing ski deal even better. The Mountain Collective Pass costs just $349 and provides two free days of skiing at each resort with an additional 50% off an unlimited number of lift tickets thereafter. Furthermore, the pass grants discounts on lodging and other amenities too, making it a fantastic option for those who simply can’t get enough time on the slopes.

After announcing the addition of the new resorts, a limited number of passes for the 2013/2014 season went on sale at both the Mountain Collective website and Liftopia.com. These passes are being offered at the same price as the 2012/2013 tickets, but once they are sold out, that price will be gone. If you want to be able to take advantage of this amazing deal, you’ll want to grab a ticket while they last.

I know that the 2013/2014 ski season sounds like a long way off, particularly since we’re still wrapping up the current season. But this is just too good of deal to pass up. The price is likely to increase in the fall, so get your hands on one of these passes while you can.

[Photo Credit: Alta]

Spring Breakers: Mammoth Mountain Has 16 Feet Of Snow On The Ground

Mammoth Mountain has a base of up to 16-feet of snowSpring break is nearly upon us and while many travelers are looking forward to a relaxing escape in warmer climes, some of us prefer to hit the slopes for some late season skiing or snowboarding instead. It has been a banner year for many resorts across the western U.S., where heavy snows have fallen for much of the season, but if you’re looking for the absolute deepest powder in the country there is only one place to go – Mammoth Mountain.

Mammoth has had an absolutely terrific winter so far with a tremendous amount of snow falling across the region. As a result, the resort currently has a base of between 7 and 16 feet depending on where you are at on the mountain. On top of that, the Sierra Nevada range was hit with new snow storms just this week adding an additional 2 feet of fresh powder over the past couple of days alone. All of this precipitation has earned Mammoth the distinction of having the most snow of any resort in all of North America this year.

If you’re still looking for a great ski destination for the upcoming spring break, it really is tough to top Mammoth. The resort features 118 trails spread out across 3500 skiable acres, which means even on a busy day there is still plenty of room to move. Sixty-five percent of that terrain is aimed specifically at the beginner or intermediate skier, which makes the resort a great place for those who are still looking to build their skills. Add in some great lodges, restaurants and bars, and you’ll have everything you need for a memorable time both on and off the slopes.

The Best Of The West: Classic Ski Lodges

tamarack lodgeDespite deceptively balmy temperatures in parts of the U.S., there’s still plenty of ski season left. Why not spend it staying at a classic ski lodge or chalet out West? These regal or groovy remnants from the early-to-mid-20th century are a dying breed, although some have been refurbished to good effect, while still retaining their original style. They also tend to offer friendly, personalized service, so you feel like a welcome guest, not just a number.

Classic places are often more affordable, and just as stylish and comfortable than their boutique or generic high-end chain counterparts. Even when they’re pricey, they’re a bit of living history that can give your ski trip a fun retro feel. Think racy Piz Buin and Lange boots ads, fondue, tight, color-blocked sweaters, Bicentennial Ray-Bans, and all things Bavarian.

Below, some favorite vintage ski accommodations across the West. Don’t forget your Glockenspiel.

Tyrolean Lodge, Aspen, CO
It may come as a shock that Aspen has a classic ski lodge that’s remained little-changed in atmosphere or ski-town spirit since its opening in 1970, but the Tyrolean is just that place. Located several minutes’ walk from the slopes, this no-frills, family-owned chalet is one of the best deals in town, with rooms starting at $155/night; some with kitchenettes. The rooms have been upgraded to be more modern, but the decor and vibe is still vintage Tyrol ski culture. Love.

Tamarack Lodge
, Mammoth Mountain, CA
This small, mid-century property overlooking Twin Lakes is on the California Register of Historic Places, and caters to the cross-country crowd. It has both European guesthouse style rooms, historic, refurbished cabins (see photo above), and from December through April, ski-in/out access. If the town of Mammoth is too hectic and soulless for you, consider this a peaceful alternative to the mainstream.
strawberry lodgeStrawberry Lodge, Kyburz, CA
Highway 50 Tahoe road-trip regulars will be familiar with this former Pony Express stop (right). Located off the side of the road in the nano-community of Kyburz, Strawberry is 20 minutes from South Shore. It’s seriously old-school, in that musty, funky way, with bad taxidermy, historical oddities, and is a much-loved Lake Tahoe institution.

With 31 rooms starting at just $49 a night (some are European style, with a shared bath), it’s hard to pass up, especially when you consider the proximity to all manner of vices, ranging from drinking (please don’t attempt to drive back) and gambling, to outdoor recreation. I love it because it’s one of the last remnants of old Tahoe, in a pastoral mountain setting. Strawberry also offers cross-country skiing, and the restaurant and bar can get hopping, sometimes with live music.
sun valley lodge
Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho
Built in 1936 at America’s first destination ski resort (with the world’s first chairlifts), the SVL was considered cutting-edge. It offered “every amenity a skier could possibly imagine.” Today, the 148-room property has been completely refurbished into a luxury hotel, complete with glass-encased swimming pool, yet it retains its majestic timber-and-stone facade and stately atmosphere.
P.S. Hemingway slept here.

Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, OR
Celebrating its 76th year, this National Historic Landmark (lobby, right) was built at a time when American heritage and the spirit of adventure crashed head-on with the Great Depression. FDR heralded the lodge as a “testament to the workers on the rolls of the Works Progress Administration,” which funded most of the property’s construction. The lodge shut down twice, once during WWII, and again in 1955, as it had fallen into disrepair. Under a new lessee, it was restored to grandeur and reopened later that year.

Located less than 90 minutes from Portland, Mt. Hood is a favorite local’s ski area. Timberline is built in the classic Pacific Northwestern lodge style, constructed primarily by hand of native timber and rock. The bright rooms are upscale rustic, with wood paneling, thick comforters, and stone fireplaces: all the trappings for a cozy getaway.

Alta Peruvian Lodge
, UT
Located at one of Utah’s premier ski resorts, this three-story wooden lodge had an unlikely start as a pair of barracks buildings in Brigham. They were relocated to Alta in eight pieces, and reconstructed into a 50-room lodge that opened in 1948. In 1979, an architect was hired to gussy up the property, although by today’s standards, it retains a retro Alpine charm (the kelly-green shutters decorated with Edelweiss, for example).

Rooms are straightforward and more motel than mountain lodge, but a fantastic deal, starting at $129 for a dorm bed. Prices include all meals, served family style in the lodge dining room, and free shuttle service to Alta Mountain and Snowbird. There are also twin and queen rooms with a shared or private bath, as well as bedroom suites. As for why the property is called the Peruvian? No one knows, although possibly it’s for a nearby landmark, Peruvian Creek.
Nordic Inn
Nordic Inn, Crested Butte, CO
Reopened on December 15, 2012, under new ownership, this beloved, 28-room Alpine lodge (right) opened over 50 years ago. Located just 500 yards from the slopes, the Nordic has refurbished half of its spacious rooms, which are now kitted out with hardwood floors, down comforters and pillows, and gorgeous Colorado beetle kill pine woodwork. The remaining rooms (which are a colorful ode to the ’80s, and a screaming deal for ski-in lodging) will be redone by June 1.

P.S. Ski lodges aren’t just for winter! Many are open year-round, and summer is also peak season for outdoor recreation.

[Photo credits: Tamarack, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area; Strawberry, 50Cabins.COM; Sun Valley, Sun Valley Resorts; Nordic Inn, Ken Stone]

Snowstorms Bring Plenty Of Powder For The Holidays

Snow storms bring plenty of powder to the western U.S. Skiers and snowboarders who have been watching the weather, just hoping for an opportunity to hit their favorite ski resort this holiday season, are likely to be pretty excited at the moment. Snowstorms across the western United States have started dumping plenty of fresh powder on the region and it now looks like we could be on course for a much better ski season compared to last year.

A late autumn storm brought plenty of fresh accumulation to most of Colorado this past weekend, with Wolf Creek picking up an impressive 30″ and Purgatory getting more than 20″ as well. Monarch Mountain wasn’t far behind with 17″ of new snow, while Steamboat was hit with 13″. Most other major resorts across the state also received anywhere from five to ten inches of new accumulation, which means nearly any hill will be ready for the holiday rush beginning this weekend.

Taking a quick look at current base levels for snow at some of the more iconic ski destinations across the west shows that there is plenty of powder currently on the ground. For instance, Snowbird has a base of 60″ at the moment and has already received more than 118″ so far this season. Jackson Hole is doing quite well for themselves too, having racked up an impressive 164″ of snow before winter has even officially begun. If you’re headed to the Lake Tahoe region, Heavenly is boasting a base of between 30-50″ with total accumulations in excess of 120″ on some parts of the mountain. Nearby, Squaw Valley has received as much as 6″ of fresh powder in the past day or so, bringing its base up to nearly 70″ as well.Not to be outdone by its competitors, California’s Mammoth Mountain is measuring their base between 5.5 and 6.5 feet, with total accumulations in excess of 134″ already this season. The forecast calls for more snow over the next few days as well, bringing those totals up even more. All of this fresh powder comes just as the first flights of the season take off for the resort. Regular air travel to Mammoth begins tomorrow, just in time for the holiday season ahead.

Weather forecasts indicate that another large storm front will hit the western U.S. later this week, bringing more snow to many areas. If you’re planning on spending some time on the slopes this holiday season, it seems you’ll have plenty of fresh powder to shred.

[Photo Credit: Mammoth Mountain]

Mammoth Mountain Makes Big Changes Ahead Of Opening Day

Mammoth Mountain gets ready for Opening Day November 8.California ski resort Mammoth Mountain received its first snowfall of the season last week, which bodes well for their November 8 opening day. But fresh snow won’t be the only thing visitors find when they arrive at Mammoth for opening weekend. The resort has instituted a host of updates and changes that will make the 2012-2013 ski season one to remember.

Snowboarders and free skiers in particular will find plenty to love at Mammoth this season. In addition to their massive Superpipe, which is traditionally the first to open and last to close in North America each year, the new Progression Park is sure to be a big draw. Specifically designed to help skiers and riders improve their skills, the Progression Park starts with some easy features at the beginning and gradually builds to more challenging obstacles further down the hill. Additionally, the new Downtown Collection adds urban themed obstacles to the Main and South Parks, giving snowboarders a whole new set of features to explore.

Mammoth’s new updates and enhancements extend well beyond the slopes and terrain parks, however, as the resort has brought some additional amenities that visitors are sure to love. For instance, new digital lounges have been added to both the Main and Canyon Lodges that offer recharging stations for smartphones and cameras. Those lounges will also provide Internet connections, which will allow visitors to upload their favorite videos and photos to Facebook or Twitter, giving them the opportunity to gloat to friends stuck at home.
Additionally, the onsite daycare center will once again provide infant care for new parents who still want to enjoy a little time on the slopes, while those with kids 7-12 can now get $30 passes so the little ones can get in on the fun too. Additionally, new dining options in the Main Lodge put an emphasis on healthy eating for both children and adults, with vegan and gluten free choices being added to the menu.

As the ski season ramps up near the holidays, air service will resume to Mammoth on December 19. Travelers will then have the option of hopping an affordable flight from Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco directly to the mountain, putting them on the slopes easier and more quickly than ever.

If you’re a skier or snowboarder who is looking forward to the start of the new season, you’ll definitely want to mark November 8 on your schedule. That’s the day that you can finally hit the slopes in Mammoth and enjoy all of the new enhancements for 2012 and 2013. And let’s not forget, Mammoth is so confident that this will be a ski season to remember that they’re even guaranteeing snow.

[Photo courtesy Mammoth Mountain]