Hiking in snow is tough. But that’s also the best thing about it, as aside from the undeniable stoke and endorphin high you’ll get from hiking and earning those turns, you can also bet that the masses won’t be fussed in venturing too far from the lifts. So if you do put the hikes in, well that can only equal more fresh snow for you. Woo hoo.
Here’s our pick of the planet’s finest hike-to terrain, which you can access from a ski lift. We’re not talking mega-splitboard or ski-tour missions here, and none of these hikes are more than an hour, but they will give you unforgettable rides down and plenty of jaw-dropping scenery along the way.
1. Highland Bowl, Aspen Highlands, Colorado
Celebrities and their swank may hog the headlines when it comes to Aspen, but this Colorado resort also happens to have some of the best vertical snowboarding and skiing in North America, the highlight of which is the hike-to Highland Bowl.
Take the Loge lift then you can either start hiking or cheat with a snow CAT, which will cut your hike by a third. Even then you’ll be lucky to do the hike in less than 45 minutes, especially if you live at sea level, as the altitude here is lung-busting. The summit is almost 3,800m.
But boy will you get your rewards in the form of some of the steepest, the average pitch is 35-40 degrees but it goes up to 48, and sweetest snow, think dry champagne powder, you’ll ever have ridden. The hike and vastness of the bowl also means you’ll find freshies for weeks.
2. Vallee Blanche, Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix, France
In the shadow of Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc, the top of the Aiguille du Midi is a place of such otherworldly beauty it will make you gasp.
That could also be the altitude (3,842m), or the fact you have to hike down a gnarly snow-packed ridge with sheer drops into the abyss on either side, before you can ride or ski anywhere.
In truth the hike is actually fine as unless you’re an expert rider or skier who lives locally you’ll be doing this run with a guide anyway, as it’s not a resort as such, and there are no marked runs and crevasses everywhere. I can vouch for that as I fell down one once.
There’s a rope to hold onto and your guide will rope you together for the ridge hike too, instructing you to dive one way if your rope-compadre has fallen the other. The Grand Envers du Plan is one of the more tricky Vallee Blanche routes down with sustained slopes of 40-45 degrees but that steepness saves snowboarders from walking, as they can have to do on the flatter sections of the regular Vallee Blanche route.