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.
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.
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.