By Alison Gannett; Photograph of Alison Gannett at work gear testing for Patagonia in Crested Butte's Teocalli Bowl.
If your profession is "world champion extreme skier," you are required to suss out the world's ultimate ski spots just put in a day's work. Sounds rough. But even if your day-to-day life isn't devoted to finding fresh tracks, you can still spend your precious free time schussing down them. We asked expedition skier and environmentalist Alison Gannett to give us a cheat sheet to her five favorite ski spots the world over.
1. Las Lenas, Argentina
Endless adventurous steep front, side or backcountry riding.
Down Sides: Too much wind can shut down lifts, avalanches, dinner at 11 p.m. is hard for hungry skiers, partying 'till dawn can hurt fresh tracks, not-so-hot dudes.
Up Sides: Lots of room for fresh tracks, partying 'till dawn, recently affordable, hot chicks. Hot tip: learn Spanish, bring backcountry gear.
2. Andermatt, Switzerland
Couloirs, glaciers, and endless side country may leave you in another town for lunch.
Down Side: Relatively expensive
Up Sides: Some of the longest chutes you will ever ski, picturesque glaciers, great food. Tip: hire a guide to find the goods; wear your avy gear and harness every day.
3. Crested Butte, Colorado
My place for in-bounds adventure and to hone technical skills in the infamous and endless avalanche-controlled powder areas of the North Face, Phoenix/Spellbound, Dead-End Chutes, and Body Bag Glades.
Down Side: Some years can be lean on snow.
Up Sides: Hire a guide for the blue to the double blacks, or forget all that and look for the scariest cliffs to huck (they are all open!). The terrain is so big that it rarely bumps up. There's great coffee and restaurants in this authentic mountain town. Tip: Rent a house in town and leave the car behind; ask a local to show you around.
4. Alta, Utah
My home away from home and my go-to place for the most reliable "best powder on Earth." More dense than Colorado, this snow stacks up and provides a better resistance.
Down Sides: Staying in the affordable black smog of Salt Lake, road closures, and Salt Lake City Mormons close restaurants on Sundays.
Up Sides: It's easy to book a ticket or drive when you see a storm stacking up. Lift tickets are affordable. Tip: try to follow a local to find the goods, if you can....
5. Himalayan Mountains, Manali, India
My ultimate backcountry ski adventure place: Colorado- or Utah-style snow in the world's biggest mountain range.
Down Sides: Three ton carbon footprint to get there.
Up Side: Best food in the world, extremely affordable once you are there, very accessible backcountry in every direction that usually leaves you in some exotic town at nightfall. Tip: Bring diatomaceous earth (wolfcreekranch.com) as a daily prevention for traveler's stomach.