Wallowa Alpine Huts, Camp Norway and McCully Basin, Enterprise.
You will never have more fun than this on cross-country skis. Gather a posse, book a trip (spring is best) and enjoy mega-days touring around the bowls, glades and couloirs of “Little Switzerland,” located in Eastern Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. Recover from your big day of backcountry travel with a bottle of bourbon and some beef stew, best enjoyed inside the luxurious Wallowa Alpine Huts, which are outfitted with a sink, woodstove and enough beds for your whole crew. Wake up, make bacon and coffee, repeat.
More info at: wallowahuts.com.
Ski Mountaineering Mecca
Mount Shasta, Calif.
At 14,179, Mt. Shasta, the southern most peak in the Cascades range, is not for the park-and-huck set. If, however, you’re into long climbs and extended downhill runs, then schedule time this winter to make a four-hour drive south. The multiple 7,000-foot runs on Shasta make laps on Tumalo and Todd Lake seem like little-kid stuff. Those with strong skiing skills and a solid fitness level will be well-rewarded.
More info at: shastaguides.com; threesistersbackcountry.com
XC Ski Heaven
Rolling Huts in the Methow Valley, Winthrop, Wash.
Nestled in a little valley in the North Cascades you’ll find six ultra-modern, cozy, modular huts all with views of the mountains and access to over 100 miles of cross-country ski trails. Since they’re outfitted with kitchen appliances, wi-fi and beds, it’s not exactly roughing it but, after skiing 40k, who wants to rough it anyway? A portable toilet is located outside each hut just so you don’t feel cheated of the wilderness experience. If you still have some kick left after exploring the miles of nordic trails, then know this: Winthrop is reportedly home to Washington’s oldest legal saloon.
More info at: rollinghuts.com
Oft-Overlooked Ski Resort
Mt. Baker Ski Area, Wash.
Mt. Baker often gets more snow in a month than some resorts get all year, so why haven’t we been there yet? An eight-hour drive is no excuse considering that 10,781-foot Mt. Baker is the world record holder for the most snowfall in a single season (1,140 inches). Plus, Baker is only a short one-hour drive from Bellingham, a town known for its beers, burritos and breathtaking scenery. The population 81,862 college town is a perfect staging ground for a long weekend spent skiing the steeps of Baker’s extended flanks. In March of 2012 alone, Baker received 260 inches. This year should be similar. Start packing.
More info at: mtbaker.us
Photo taken by Jason Browniee Photography & Design.