Trade skis for crampons and hike into an ice spire cathedral near the slopes of Alberta’s Lake Louise.
I strap nailhead-studded crampons called Icers over the soles of my winter boots and wonder just what I’ve gotten myself into. Others had raved about river-carved ice castles in Johnston Canyon, a notch in Banff National Park’s craggy peaks, so I’d signed up for a half-day hike as a midweek diversion for muscles weary from skiing Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise. Looking at the terrain ahead, though, I’m not sure how much of a break my weary muscles will get.
When Midwesterners decide to "supersize" their skiing, they head to Big Powderhorn in Michigan's western U.P. Big Powderhorn presents skiing on a grand scale that few other resorts in the region can match.
Alta's unassailable charms are snow (abundant and as dry as the perfect martini), terrain (wide-open flanks punctuated with butt-clenching steeps) and value ($40 a day), categories it is accustomed to dominating in the annual rankings.