The Epic Ski Trip Challenge
171 resorts in 19 US states and 4 Canadian provinces, one season! Are you up for the challenge?
About the challenge
The idea of the ‘Epic Ski Trip’ came about in October of 2013 when I asked myself: “How many functioning ski resorts are there in the US and Canada, how many have I skied, and how many are worth skiing?” So I decided to dig in and make a list by state and province. Among some of the criteria on my list was for the resorts to have a least 1,500 vertical feet of drop (some exceptions were made based on the next mentioned criteria and resorts in NJ and PA are for state diversity), have multiple challenging black or double-black runs (ideally over 1/3 of the terrain) and reasonable, reliable conditions spanning at least 4 months (with preferably natural snow cover). So out of the approximately 500 functioning ski areas and resorts in North America, I narrowed down the list to about 170 that any true skier would consider worth paying a visit and I completed them all by March of 2017.
I have always loved skiing, since perhaps the age of 5 or 6, when my father used to play the role of a tow rope. Throughout the years, with experience and close calls, involving hospital stays, I got better and started tackling almost every possible terrain nature can design. Having my own financial advisory and money management practice has allowed for a great deal of schedule flexibility, which means that in any given season I try to ski at least 35-65 days (I have a minimum requirement of days each season, which grows by one every season to match my age). Speaking of days, sometimes I would ski two small neighboring resorts in a day, and I have done three (with night skiing), fully covering all open terrain. I normally ski from first to last chair and try to cover most, if not all major named runs, a resort has to offer, including tree lines, chutes, hike-to terrain, side country and whatever else you can fathom skiable. I have experienced epic powder, ice, fog, spring skiing, the worst goggle tan ever, -46F where your boots take 30 minutes to thaw after each run, and anything in between, had mischief with ski patrol, on-slope run-ins with animals and even more bizarre people, challenges with lift service, great apres skiing, crashed a ton of hot tubs, found great local places to eat or stay, you name it.
Having skied resorts from the famous and glamorous to the lesser known and uncrowded places, the most common bond between them all is the smiles on people’s faces when you see them gliding on the countless snowflakes below, from the 3 year old kids to the octogenarians. When you are on the road exploring the continent, you come across scenery you never knew existed, places with tremendous beauty and history. You get to know people, their stories, traditions and way of life, joys and suffering. It is magical; you recharge and try to pass on that positive energy to fellow human beings. You also become more mindful about the fragile state of nature and life.
Even though I have done it in sections (sometimes with friends and family joining and sometimes alone: best to have a good ski buddy along), from 2-3 weeks on the road covering thousands of miles, to long day trips, with careful planning and research it can certainly be done in one season - I would gladly provide advice and guidance. Hint: some of the smaller resorts by acreage that are within 30-45 min drive apart can be done two in a day, some are open only certain days a week, some have a limited snow/season duration, and the top 5 largest resorts by acreage you may want to dedicate two days to ski.
So if you love skiing (sunny groomers, powder chutes, foggy trees, sick cliff lines and apres ski with local brews), traveling, exploring, meeting new people, braving the elements and creating unforgettable memories, this may be right for you. It takes planning, excellent logistics, dedication, stamina, some luck and great support from family and friends to pull this off. But once you do, you will go down in history as perhaps the first or one of few true champions and pioneers of the sport that have accomplished this monumental lifetime achievement.
Happy skiing and a have a great season!
P.S. And did I mention there are prizes to win? (see Official Rules)