5 months in 5 of the best ski locales on Earth during the months where each one matters most. Most snow freaks have to work and save money all summer, pick a ski hill, stick with it, get a night job, and hope their spot has a good year. If it isn’t a stellar year, said ski bum doesn’t have many options when it comes to travel and chasing snow across the world. Let’s fantasize a bit, shall we? What if a ski bum could pick out the best 5 ski locations on Earth, select the historically best month at each place, and create a schedule that ricocheted him/her from stupendous ski spot to stupendous ski spot all winter long? The ULTIMATE Ski Season Curriculum = Whistler, Japan, Gulmarg, Chamonix, Alaska | Unofficial Networks

The ULTIMATE Ski Season Curriculum = Whistler, Japan, Gulmarg, Chamonix, Alaska

The ULTIMATE Ski Season Curriculum = Whistler, Japan, Gulmarg, Chamonix, Alaska

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The ULTIMATE Ski Season Curriculum = Whistler, Japan, Gulmarg, Chamonix, Alaska

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True ski bums have been searching for the ultimate ski season for a long time. photo: loomis dean

5 months in 5 of the best ski locales on Earth during the months where each one matters most.

Most snow freaks have to work and save money all summer, pick a ski hill, stick with it, get a night job, and hope their spot has a good year.  If it isn’t a stellar year, said ski bum doesn’t have many options when it comes to travel and chasing snow across the world.

Let’s fantasize a bit, shall we?  What if a ski bum could pick out the best 5 ski locations on Earth, select the historically best month at each place, and create a schedule that ricocheted him/her from stupendous ski spot to stupendous ski spot all winter long?

If this was something that even nicked the realm of reality, it would truly be:

THE ULTIMATE SKI SEASON

Pillow popping at Whistler. photo: mason mashon/ski canada magazine

December in Whistler, B.C.

December is Whistler’s biggest snow month.  In the past 10 years, Whistler has averaged 98 inches in the month of December which is the highest snowfall average of any month of the year in Whistler.

– Whistler can be a very busy mountain.  On powder days it can be packed, but in December, there ain’t no one there, yet.  This is the best month to get lonely on 8,000+ acres and have your choice of abundantly fresh pillow lines.

Lee Lyon getting deep in Hakuba, Japan. photo: zach paley

January in Hakuba, Japan

“January is like clockwork, you get your 300 inches.”  You hear that a lot in Hakuba.  You also hear locals saying that they get truly sick of not seeing the sun in January.  There are a lot of snow freaks out there who would trade no sun for a month for 300 inches…

– January is the month to be in Japan.  Frigid northwest winds come off of Siberia, rip across the Sea of Japan, pick up moisture off the ocean (like lake effect snow), and unleash that moisture on the Japanese Alps of Hakuba.  It really is like clockwork.  January in Hakuba is like deep, fluffy clockwork.

Check out the snow spikes just before & during January the past 3 seasons in Hakuba, Japan. charts: damian banwell - steepdeepjapan.com

 

Monkey tree skiing, Gulmarg, India

February in Gulmarg, India

– How freakin’ weird would this be?  Ripping thru trees and watching monkeys screaming, freaking out, throwing poop at you, and cheering you on.  That’d be a pretty deeply burned ski memory, methinks.  If Japan wasn’t exotic enough for you, Gulmarg will be.

A month in Gulmarg checks off a lot of ski-bucket-list boxes:  skiing in the Himalaya, skiing high altitude, skiing with monkeys, & skiing in Asia.  In addition to all those checked boxes, it snows a lot in there in February which is the best month to be there.

– This info adds to Gulmarg’s exoticity (not a word):  “At the 2001 India census Gulmarg had a population of 664, though many people are required to leave by nightfall. Only tourists and those working in the tourism industry may stay overnight. Males constitute 99% of the population and females 1%. Gulmarg has an average literacy rate of 96%, higher than the Indian national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 97%, and female literacy is 22%. In Gulmarg, 0% of the population is under 6 years of age.” – wikipedia

Chamonix, where you can actually use the words ‘extreme’ and ‘skiing’ together. photo: christian pondella

March in Chamonix, France

– Chamonix is a place of legend and legends.  By March the snowpack has filled in, is getting more stable, the sun is coming out a bit more, and it’s still snowing a lot.

You can’t really call yourself a hard core skier or rider until you’ve skied and scared the piss out of yourself in Cham.  Want some crazy ski stories like that weird long-haired, long-winded bald guy in the old Varnet hat at the end of the bar who always orders a shot of whiskey and a Bud?  Chamonix is the place to get those stories…or become a story.

Cham can be truly amazing in March and since skiing is such a dick-measuring-contest, you might as well be equipped with the biggest measure of all, having spent a March charging hard in Chamonix, France.

Alaska is big. photo: andrew miller

April in Alaska, USA

– Alaska is the Earth’s ultimate freeride destination.  You’ve heard it before: “spines, big lines, pillows, steeps, bottomless snow, and endless untracked terrain.”  You’ve also heard this before:  “Oh, you haven’t skied AK, yet?  Dude…you’re missin’ out, brah.”

The Chugach range in Alaska very likely averages more annual snowfall than any other mountain range on Earth.  In april, those storms spread out, the sun stay out longer, and skiers and riders are given a chance to test there mettle against AK’s ambrosial terrain.  Alaska gives you the opportunity to sled ski, skin, cat, or heli ski and everyone of those options will bring you that much closer to God.

As much of a cliche as skiing Alaska has become, it’s still no cliche at all.  Alaska is the ultimate is big mountain freeriding and very likely always will be.

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