Another popular event at Aspen Highlands is the Fallen Friends Memorial (March 30), which unites skiers and snowboarders for a contest on the bumps, rails and jumps of Scarlett's Run to honor those who've died on the slopes, and to benefit the Aspen Valley Ski Club scholarship fund.

Splurge: Try the fondue and Swiss cuisine at the Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, which also offers Thursday-evening snowcat dinners (call 970-923-8715 for reservations). "Other than that, the single best splurge a skier can make — other than ordering full-custom skis from Folsom — is to get a good pair of custom boots," McCabe says. "I get mine at the Surefoot shop in town."

Ski bum tips: "Look on Craigslist for crazy-awesome deals on short-term apartment rentals at places like the Skier's Chalet or the Tyrolean Lodge before you head up," McCabe says. "Sometimes you can even find entire trailers for rent in the trailer park."

Drink in the Champagne Powder at Steamboat.
Drink in the Champagne Powder at Steamboat.

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Drink locally: "My favorite beer in Aspen is the Independence Pass IPA from Aspen Brewing Company," McCabe says. "Look for that and other local brews at the recently remodeled Merry-Go-Round restaurant at the top of the Exhibition lift at Aspen Highlands."

ASPEN MOUNTAIN (AJAX)

www.aspensnowmass.com/aspen-mountain, 800-525-6200

"Ajax is a skier's mountain," says Anson Fogel, owner of Forge Motion Pictures in Carbondale, who just unveiled his company's spots for Visit Colorado's winter tourism campaign and whose own short film, Cold, swept the adventure-film awards circuit this year. "It's got incredibly varied terrain and a gondola that takes you from the very bottom to the very top. It's got steep trees and glades all over the place, and the mountain has a bunch of different aspects, so as the day goes by, you can always find soft snow by following the sun. It's like God engineered the place just for skiers."

You can say "Namaste" to it all and warm up with snow salutations at the free Yoga for Skiers sessions held every morning on the sun deck at the top of the gondola. On Saturdays, go for the $25 First Tracks breakfast, a lift ticket add-on that will put pancakes in your belly and you on the gondola and the slopes with local ski pros before anyone else.

Even if you sleep in, making fresh tracks shouldn't be a problem, says Fogel. "There are so many little secret stashes all over the mountain, little spots that don't get skied, and if you know where to go, you can pretty much always find powder. My favorite spots are in the Mine Dumps and on Wallisch's, a short and steep run that always seems to have a ton of snow."

Splurge: Aspen Mountain Powder Tours pick up from the top of the gondola. For dinner try Element 47, the new restaurant at the five-star Little Nell hotel. "I also really like Cache Cache Bistro and Nobu Matsuhisa," says Fogel. "Especially if someone else is buying."

Ski bum tips: Skip the organized tour and do it yourself. "If you know what you're doing, then go for it and be careful out there. And if you don't know what you're doing but still want to get out there, try Aspen Expeditions and hire a guide," Fogel says. For cheap eats, he suggests Johnny McGuire's Deli. "They have incredible hot sandwiches, very cheap. It's an institution."

Drink locally: "The Aspen Brewing Company has some great local beers and a cool little tap room," says Fogel. Also, try the twice-monthly beer dinners at the Limelight Hotel, presented in partnership by Aspen Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing, and Craft Beers by Anheuser-Busch ($40, includes three-course meal, beers, tax and tip).

BEAVER CREEK RESORT

www.beavercreek.com,

970-845-9090

Barry Clark doesn't need a lot of luxuries, just good snow — and at Beaver Creek, he says, "they get a lot of snow, and you can almost always avoid a lift line."

It's also a great family mountain, says Clark, who is celebrating the grand opening of Weston Snowboards, his shop at 106 Main Street in the nearby town of Minturn, where he stocks his own line of backcountry-ready snowboards and gear.

"My family loves riding in the Royal Elk Glades, a super-steep black-diamond playground that gets big pillows of puffy snow," he says. "A close second is the Bachelor Gulch Glades — and by the way, Bachelor Gulch is also a great place to park; even when the Beaver Creek Village parking is full, you can park at the Ritz-Carlton. Just go in and buy a drink at the end of the day and get your ticket validated."

Splurge: Indulge your inner one-percenter with a stay at the Osprey, Travel + Leisure magazine's top-ranked U.S. resort. It's just steps from the Strawberry Park Express lift, and the huge, spacious suites and A-list customer service will help you best understand Beaver Creek's "Not exactly roughing it" slogan. Toscanini is a great Italian restaurant at the base area, and a snowcat-towed sleigh ride to Beano's Cabin is a fun on-mountain splurge.

Ski bum tips: "The beauty of Beaver Creek is they'll treat you the same way whether you're a multi-gazillionaire or a dirtbag, so you'll feel like royalty up there no matter what," Clark says. "Besides the free three-o'clock chocolate chip cookies Beaver Creek is famous for, I'd also recommend the s'mores they have by the firepits at both the Ritz and the Hyatt, where nobody will ask to see your room key card." For lodging discounts, try the Christie Lodge in Avon or the Hotel Minturn near Clark's shop.

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