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10 Ski Tours That Will Blow Your Mind in the Best Way Possible

Hauteroute

Sure, we know there are probably more than ten, but we believe that you won’t be disappointed with this list of ski tours. We’ve compiled the tours (in no particular order) from our own wish lists, though we’re highlighting the areas with at least minimal infrastructure to support your trip. Ten ski expeditions to not see any evidence of humanity? That’s a noble, but entirely different list.

1. Japan: Hakkoda-san Range.

Why: Massive snowfall. If you haven’t caught the Japan skiing bug yet, what are you waiting for? The moisture-filled air from the South Pacific collides with Siberian cold fronts and results in over 550-inches of snow per year. Near the better-known Niseko resort area, Hakkoda-san is range comprised of eight mountains. There is a single gondola and guides are available, or you can slap on your skins and head out on your own. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $5.24

2. France/Switzerland:The Haute Route.

Why: It’s a classic for good reason. Bonus: wine and cheese. We could be contrarian and leave the Haute Route off the list, but that only serves to omit one of the most storied and gorgeous tours on the planet. Routes vary from primarily skiing to full-on winter mountaineering with mandatory roped climbs. So don’t mistake the popularity of this 6-8 day tour for ease or accessibility. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $6-7

3. Norway: Sognefjord Region.

Why: Because you’d live here if you could. The skiing history of Norway makes it a must for any skier anyway. For touring, the city of Sogndal is the epicenter of day-tripping at its finest. The town sits directly on the water of the fjord, yet you can still ski out your front door. A relatively stable snowpack and some of the highest peaks in Norway are right behind you. Enjoy. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $10.10

4. Romania: Bucegi Mountains.

Why: Options, options, options. Bonus: who doesn’t want to ski in Transylvania? In the Southern Carpathian mountains, butting against Transylvania, lies the Bucegi Range. From a touring perspective, it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. Once you reach the high plateau, you have a 360-degree choice of open mellow sweepers to steep adrenaline lines down. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $1.45

5. Chile: Volcano Touring the Andean Lake District of Southern Chile.

Why: Boatloads of snow on a “normal” year. Exquisite views. You know that feeling when you look into the distance and know that you need to ski a certain line or aspect? Now imagine if each of those lines was off the side of a free-standing, perfect triangle of a volcano pushing into sky. Scattered refugios and ample hostels make this an affordable region for travel, too. Best time of the year is typical mid-September to mid-October. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $2.22

6. New Zealand: Tour the “Other” Alps.

Why: Everyone familiar with the area insists the Southern Alps are one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. Traverse the heart of Middle Earth in a four-day trip across glaciers, mellow pistes and endless views. The New Zealand hut system is extensive, easy-to-use and highly affordable. So if planning isn’t your forte, this is a worthwhile spur-of-the-moment style tour. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $3.71

7. United States: Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Hut System.

Why: Steeped in history and with varying degrees of luxury, this system of 34 huts links 350-miles of backcountry terrain. Between Colorado snowpack being predictably unpredictable and the popularity of the huts, most people book a single hut for a few nights as opposed to touring from place to place. Either way, you’re promised a high likelihood of Colorado’s finest attributes: solitude, blue skies and deep snow. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $3.75

8. Canada: Helicopter-to-hut outside of Golden, British Columbia.

Why: A 15-minute helicopter ride delivers you deep in the mountains. From there on out, it’s all legs and lungs. Several outfits have similar operations, so choose your poison (aka terrain). Most of these set-ups require that you travel with a guide. We’ve had our eyes on Mistaya Lodge, after several friends have reported thigh deep conditions and a candy store level of terrain choices. Bonus: this is a perfect choice for groups of varying skill levels. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $4.43

9. Greenland: 16-hour ski days in Uummannaq.

Why: Skiing from peak to ocean over 500-km north of the Arctic Circle. March and April are the best months for skiing, and the daylight hours in April grow longer by over four minutes every 24-hour period. We’re also willing to bet you could go for months without crossing another ski track. If you can’t make it all the way to Uummannaq, the terrain outside of the capital, Nuuk, is packed with open fields and short, fun chutes with relatively stable snowpack. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $10.94

10. Antarctica: Anywhere.

Why: Did you not see March of the Penguins?  With some 20,000 tourists visiting annually, Antarctica is hardly “the last frontier.” But there is still something so untamed, so dramatic and so darn cold about the notion of it. As far as we can tell, it’s near impossible to organize this trip without hiring some kind of permitted outfitter. Two words: worth it. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): Considering you just paid five figures to get there, you better hope the beer is included with the boat.

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Spring hiking preview

Nkwx Coast-31

It’s officially spring, which means that hiking season is here. Which means it’s time to bust out your boots (and if you didn’t store them properly last fall, time to clean and waterproof).

Got it? Great. Now the fun starts.

Whether you’re heading out for a leisurely stroll or a multi-day wilderness trek, planning your adventure is the first step. If you’re not sure where to go or you’re looking to add to your lifelist, we’re here to help. Check out the following must-dos and get those feet moving.

Easy Day Hike: Mount Independence, Orwell, Vermont

Visit one of the sites from which the British hightailed it back to Canada during the Revolutionary War, and enjoy the lush hillside vegetation on Vermont’s iconic Mount Independence. This family-friendly day hike is 2.9 miles round trip. It gains 200 feet and tops out at 306 feet above sea level. There are even a few nearby trails with wheelchair access. For more info on Mount Independence, click here.

Recommended footwear: Choose a low-top hiking shoe with lateral stiffness, grippy tread, and waterproofed upper like the La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 GTX.

Advanced day hike: Three 14ers in a day: Colorado’s Democrat-Cameron-Lincoln Loop

A rite of passage for aspiring mountaineers, summiting a Colorado 14er earns you a spot in a special “club.” But why stop at just one? This three-peak test piece was chosen by Backpacker as the best Colorado Day Hike in 2009. Don’t be fooled by the low mileage (6.95 total) The high alpine exposure and extreme elevation gain will make you work for it. Plan on encountering snow if you attempt this route before mid-July, and absolutely get an early start. Essential info about this route can be found here.

Recommended footwear: A light-weight ankle boot that breathes well will keep your feet going for miles. The La Sportiva Xplorer Mid GTX features great cushioning, lateral stability, a high traction rubber outsole, and an articulated heel cuff to ward off blisters.

Weekend Backpacking Trip: Kibbie Lake, Yosemite National Park, California

A friendly introduction to backpacking, this eight-mile, round trip route winds through some of Yosemite’s most beautiful scenery. Expect multiple stream crossings as you climb up to the lake. Camp at the shore (permits are available through the Yosemite NP permit desk) or head to the granite outcroppings south of the lake to escape mosquitos. More info can be found here.

Recommended footwear: A sturdy ankle boot that offers enough flexibility to keep feet comfortable without compromising stability is a solid choice. We like the La Sportiva FC ECO 3.2 GTX (women) or the FC Eco 3.0 GTX (men).

Multi-day Backpacking Trip: Wonderland Trail, Washington

Circumnavigating Washington’s captivating Mount Rainier, this 93-mile loop takes about two weeks to complete. Hikers log roughly 22,000 feet of elevation gain, and the highest point tops out at the 6,750 feet Panhandle Gap. You’ll cruise through high Alpine and sub-alpine terrain, spruce, pine, and fir forests, and plenty of river crossings. Three non-wilderness and eighteen trailside campsites are available for overnight stays with the proper permit. Visit the National Park Service site for more details.

Recommended footwear: A durable, leather hiker that’s durable, supportive, and protective, such as La Sportiva’s Omega GTX are versatile enough to go the distance and light enough to not weigh you down.

High-Alpine Mountaineering: Gannett Peak, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Wyoming’s highest peak, Gannet, 13,804 feet, lords over the state’s rugged Wind River Range. Not for the faint at heart or inexperienced, the main route summiting the peak is a 40-mile out and back. You read that right. Forty miles. Ropes, crampons, ice axes are essential to ensure safety over the varied terrain. Glacier crossing, scrambling and cross-country hiking is all part of this high-alpine experience. For the best climbing conditions, plan to summit in early summer June/July. More info can be found here.

Recommended footwear: A lightweight, burly mountaineering boot that’s waterproof, and features extensive support and torsional rigidity will get you to the summit. Check out the La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX boot.

Speed Hike/Trail Run: North Valley Trail System, Idaho

Short on time or just looking to get in an intense heart racing workout? Check out Idaho’s North Valley Trail System. This network spans 30-plus miles through the Boulder Mountain Range from Ketchum to the Galena Lodge. Select the length and intensity of your speed hike/trail run while surrounded by meadows, streams and mountain peaks. The trails are also used for XC skiing in the winter. Click here for more info.

Recommended footwear: A neutral, stable, all-terrain shoe with a rock guard in the front and a sticky outsole like the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor keeps the miles coming.