Resorts are keen to get in on the uptick in interest in backcountry skiing and riding and they're doing so by offering up more advanced lift-accessed inbounds terrain. This season New Mexico's Taos Ski Valley added the new Kachina Peak lift, which rises to 12,450 feet and increases the mountain's advanced and expert terrain by 50-percent. Jackson Hole resort in Wyoming is in the process of building the new Teton Lift, which will access the steep terrain on the resorts Northern boundary of Sheridan Ridge, an area currently accessible only by bootpack. And these lifts are only the beginning.
In the last few years new chairlifts cater to extreme terrain. In the small community resort of Bridger Bowl outside of Bozeman, Montana, the fairly recent addition of Schlasman's Lift, which opened in December 2008, gave access to the advanced terrain off of The Ridge. The Schlasman's lift is also unique in that it requires riders to not only have a lift ticket, but also an avalanche beacon check before loading.
Nearby Big Sky Resort has continually raised the bar on in-bounds terrain that competes with any backcountry terrain. Skiers and snowboarders get the benefit of avalanche control on the daring tram-accessed North Summit Snowfield, a genuine ski mountaineering experience from the 11,166-foot summit of Lone Peak to the base of recently acquired Moonlight Basin. And any list of extreme, lift-serviced terrain must include Big Sky's Big Couloir, which requires ticket holders to sign out with ski patrol and come equipped with avalanche gear for the 50-degree ride down the face of Lone Peak.
You could argue that the single- lift accessed expert-only terrain of Southern Colorado's Silverton Mountain, which opened in 2002, sets the high bar for advanced inbounds terrain, but it seems the race is now on for resorts to have an offering for even the most hardcore skiers and snowboarders.
· In Search of the Steep and Deep [Outside Online]
· See the Vertigo-Inducing Photos of Taos's New Chairlift [Curbed Ski]
· The New Teton Lift [Powder]
· Anatomy: Bridger Bowl's Schlasman's Lift [Skiing]
· Conquering The North Summit Snowfield [Big Sky Resort]
· Tip Sheet: Big Couloir [Skiing]
· 7 Reasons to Make This the Year You Ski Alyeska Resort [Curbed Ski]
· The Ten Ski Towns You Absolutely Must Visit This Winter [Curbed Ski]