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Ski Report: How to Score the Fluffy Stuff

PowderJacksonHole

For skiers and snowboarders, blazing through fresh powder is like winning the jackpot, even if the winds of fortune seem impossible to predict (this is weather we're talking about, after all). Ideally, you could wait and visit a comprehensive site like OnTheSnow.com, have a look at a resort's conditions, then book a trip accordingly. But most of us need more time to plan vacations and get great airfares. 

Here are five smart ways to play the powder odds:

PowderJacksonHole

For skiers and snowboarders, blazing through fresh powder is like winning the jackpot, even if the winds of fortune seem impossible to predict (this is weather we're talking about, after all). Ideally, you could wait and visit a comprehensive site like OnTheSnow.com, have a look at a resort's conditions, then book a trip accordingly. But most of us need more time to plan vacations and get great airfares. 

Here are five smart ways to play the powder odds:

 

1. Go higher -- Ski resorts at higher altitudes generally receive more snowfall and maintain a better quality surface than resorts at lower altitudes. There's a huge difference between a place like Snowbird, Utah (top elevation 10,000+ feet) and Mount Snow, Vermont which peaks at a mere 3,600 feet. Snowbird averages 500 inches of snow per year. Mount Snow? 166.

2. Go later -- If you can wait to take a ski vacation in February, March or even April, you'll buy yourself some time to watch the weather patterns, see the snowfall totals and plan accordingly. There are iPhone apps (REI's is one of the best), desktop widgets and numerous websites that will deliver daily snow reports to your inbox or Twitter feed.

3. Get nerdy -- True powder hounds obsess over snowfall patterns, and Tony Crocker's website BestSnow.net is unparalleled. Don't let the 1997-era web design fool you; this man's an expert in snowfall statistics, and he serves up impeccable advice on when ski resorts receive their heaviest snow storms.

4. Going east? Get impulsive -- When a massive nor'easter pummels its way up the coast, last-minute cancellations can open up hotel rooms to intrepid souls like you. Typically, hotels that aren't owned by the ski resort will have the best last-minute room rates.

5. Going west? Watch the calendar -- On average, February and March are the safest and snowiest months to travel. In a good year, the ski season out West can sometimes stretch into April or May. By that time of year, last-minute flight and hotel deals are much more common.

 

In truth, planning any ski vacation is a bit of a gamble. On a recent NYE trip to Lake Tahoe, lady luck paid us a visit: we got eighteen inches of fresh snow just as we arrived. The casinos weren't nearly so kind, but when you get to ski on a bluebird powder day and gaze down on a stunning crystal blue lake, you've definitely scored some pretty big winnings.

Chris French is the president of Ski Bums, the world’s largest club for LGBT skiers and snowboarders. He lives in New York City. Visit Ski-Bums.org to learn more.




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