Plake on the Argentière glacier in Chamonix, France
Plake on the Argentière glacier in Chamonix, France (Chris Figenshau)

My Favorite 5: Glen Plake

Freestyle skiing legend Glen Plake picks his 5 favorite places to ski

Plake on the Argentière glacier in Chamonix, France
Glen Plake

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As Told to Gordy Megroz
1. Chamonix, France

If you like a mountain in its natural state—not always prepared by groomers—then Chamonix is the best. You have to enjoy the sunny side of the mountain, then you have to ride Vallée Blanche. It’s a cookie-cutter run down and around the glacier that takes the better part of a day, but you can’t live as a skier and not do that run. Then go relax in town. You can’t walk down Rue du Docteur Paccard and not feel the 200-plus years of mountain culture.

2. Vermont Resorts
I am so over the glamorizing of powder. I just want snow. Let’s talk about real skiing—crust and hardpack and wind. You’ve got that in the East. I think the smaller the mountain is, the greater the passion and the heart. I love Suicide Six, and Killington has great skiing. I met my wife in the bar at Stratton. And there are moguls. That’s what a black ­diamond is: it means it hasn’t been groomed.

3. The Pacific Northwest
They’re ski areas—not resorts—and they’re all great. Only one or two of them have lodging. Here’s what you do. Fly into Seattle and ski Crystal; go do a day in Alpental, drive to Mission Ridge in Wenatchee, Washington, and then drive back over to Stevens Pass. If you have time, go ski Mount Baker, but don’t plan on seeing Baker—chances are it’s all socked in with a snowstorm.

4. Heavenly, California
It’s actually kind of flat, but we do have one great run: the Gunbarrel. Going up and down that trail made me really fall in love with mogul skiing. It’s 1,700 feet, about a 25-to-30-degree pitch, completely ungroomed top to bottom. Plus, a chairlift going over a mogul run is one of the coolest things ever. You’re inspired watching other skiers.

5. Telluride, Colorado
The improvements are amazing—blew me away the last time I was there. They’ve put in new lifts and opened up some of the gates to allow natural skiing experiences. In the past, I never would have lumped Telluride in with ­Mammoth, Big Sky, or Jackson Hole, but now there’s no doubt it’s one of the trophy resorts.

From Outside Buyer’s Guide 2004
Filed to:
Lead Photo: Chris Figenshau

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