Snow is flying, ski resorts are opening, and I’m ready to tug on my long johns and say goodbye to the heat of Texas. The 2022-23 ski season has arrived.
Last year, I followed my powder hound nose to Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming, the Lake Louise, Mount Norquay and Sunshine ski areas around Banff, Canada, and Colorado’s Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge resorts.
I’m trying to firm up dates for the 2022-23 ski season now. On my list? Probably a combination trip to Telluride and Crested Butte, along with a possible return to Canada to check out some backcountry chalets. I might do a trip to lesser-known resorts in Idaho, and I also want to visit Copper Mountain or the Tahoe area of California.
Whatever I do, I’ll be keeping an eye on snow reports. In the meantime, here’s what’s new at ski resorts this season …
Last year I strapped on an avalanche beacon and did some “snowcat” skiing at Keystone Resort. I’d heard that a new lift would provide easy access to Bergman Bowl starting in the 2022-23 season, and I wanted to try the expert-only terrain while it was still hard to get to. I spent the whole day riding a snowcat up and blasting down through untracked, hip-deep powder. It was exhilarating, terrifying, and exhausting all rolled into one.
It turns out the new lift to Bergman Bowl won’t open for another year. That means it’s still hard to get up there unless you hike. The resort won’t offer guided cat tours this season, but it will offer single cat ride shuttles for $25. The shuttles will run from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. daily from mid-December through March.
Keystone unveils the expansion of its on-mountain Timber Ridge Lodge this season, and the world’s largest mountaintop snow fort returns. The Peru Express lift has been upgraded to a high-speed six-pack, too.
I made it to Beaver Creek twice this past year, once to ski and another time to hike and check out the newly remodeled Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. (I love the upscale lodge’s Great Room, which reminds me of the interior of Old Faithful Lodge at Yellowstone National Park with huge timbers and stone fireplaces.)
For the 2022-23 ski season, the resort is still touting the 250 acres of beginner and intermediate groomed and gladed terrain that opened last year in McCoy Park.
“It gives you the sense you’re out in the wilderness,” communications manager John Plack told me during my January visit. “It’s at a pitch and pace for beginners –– almost like Vail’s back bowls, but at a beginner level. You get big views, bowl skiing and tree skiing.”
Most people think of Beaver Creek as a family resort, but it’s got some overlooked challenging terrain for experts, too. I love the hidden steeps and tree runs on Grouse Mountain.
“It’s subtle, not in your face,” Plack says. “It’s a bit of a hidden secret that there’s hard stuff here too.”
The resort will host the Men’s FIS Ski World Cup again this year, from Dec. 2-4. And, as always, you can pick up a free warm chocolate chip cookie at the base at the end of the ski day.
Vail turns 60 during the 2022-23 ski season, and what better way to celebrate than by opening two new lifts?
A high-speed six-pack replaces the circa-1985 Game Creek Express lift, and the all-new Sun Down Express connects the top of Sun Up and Sun Down Bowls to Wildwood. (Yippie!) Also look for the return of not one, but two, ice bars.
My favorite spot in Breckenridge is Whale’s Tail, a steep double black bowl between Peak 7 and Peak 8, but conditions have to be just right for me to brave it.
Meanwhile, this season brings a new lift –– Rip’s Ride –– to Peak 8. Also look for 100 new low-energy snow guns across Peaks 7, 8, 9 and 10.
Grand Targhee Resort
Technically, Grand Targhee is in Wyoming. But because you can only get there by driving through Idaho, locals say it’s part of “Wydaho.”
I visited at the end of last season and stayed in a cabin at Teton Valley Resort in nearby Victor.
I loved the non-pretentious vibe of the place. I spotted an old Scout in the parking lot with a half-eaten cup of chili in the back seat and a cloud of marijuana smoke around it. Plus, I didn’t see a single real fur jacket.
For the 2022-23 ski season, a new high-speed lift on Peaked Mountain opens about 600 acres that were previously only accessible by hiking or a ride on a snowcat.
My favorite run? A black diamond line called the Headwall, which served up manageable moguls and a nice pitch.
When you’re done for the day, stop by the Trap, a funky little bar at the base where a giant plate of nachos feeds at least four people and will set you back less than $20.
In the winter, the town makes a great hub to access 11 downhill ski resorts, including Northstar, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this season. Palisades will open a new 2.4-mile base-to-base gondola that provides access to all 6,000 acres of terrain at both Alpine Meadows and Palisades Tahoe. The ride takes 15 minutes.
In Central Idaho, Sun Valley Resort is opening 79 acres of new gladed terrain. I’ve skied there twice, and always remember it as having the most gorgeous on-mountain lodges of any place I’ve skied.
Epic Pass updates
Now’s the time to buy an Epic Pass if you’re thinking of doing it. (And you should, especially if you’re planning multiple ski trips.) Prices increase Nov. 20.
Last year, pass buyers complained that too many passes were sold, resulting in long lift lines and crowded slopes at participating resorts. In response, some resorts have capped the number of lift tickets available each day. If you buy your pass now, you can lock in your lift tickets in advance.
An Epic Pass costs $899 and allows unlimited access to 41 resorts including Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte, Park City and more. Or you can build your own day pass and pick from one to seven days and choose access to a group of 22, 32 or all destinations. Pass holders also get discounts on food and beverage, lodging, lessons and equipment rentals.