Shredders, rejoice: Aspen's Buttermilk Mountain, home of the 2003 Winter X Games, wants you to come ride the Crazy T'rain, billed as "the world's longest terrain park." This stellar park includes two miles of rolling hills, more than thirty rails, a superpipe with its own sound system, and an X Games slopestyle course, among other adrenaline boosters. Now's the time to get on board.


An in-bounds backcountry experience awaits at The Whole Bowl, a new area at Aspen Highlands. Seventy new acres of north-facing, gladed and steep mountainside -- we're talking up to 45-degrees-looking-straight-down-1,400-vertical-feet scary steep -- opened this year to anyone willing to hike an additional 45 minutes from the top of the Loge Lift. The perfect place to practice for a ski week in Tibet.
An in-bounds backcountry experience awaits at The Whole Bowl, a new area at Aspen Highlands. Seventy new acres of north-facing, gladed and steep mountainside -- we're talking up to 45-degrees-looking-straight-down-1,400-vertical-feet scary steep -- opened this year to anyone willing to hike an additional 45 minutes from the top of the Loge Lift. The perfect place to practice for a ski week in Tibet.


If you have sufficient lung capacity -- and huevos -- look no further than A-Basin for backcountry thrills. Just below 13,000 feet and just outside the ski area's boundaries lies The Beavers, a hellishly steep bowl that holds more face shots than any other place we know. The area is accessible from the top of the Lenawee lift and the north gate leading to Forest Service land (just follow the boot-packed hiking trail to the top of the ridge and drop right in). If getting to The Beav is easy, though, skiing it is anything but. Even if you make it down the bowl in one piece, there's still a gully thick with trees to contend with. The avalanche danger is extreme here; only expert skiers and boarders equipped with beacons and avalanche probes should attempt to tame this animal. And the adventure's not over when you reach the end of the trail; skiers must take another set of boot-packed steps up to Loveland Pass and hitch a ride back to the ski area a mile down the road to collect their cars.
If you have sufficient lung capacity -- and huevos -- look no further than A-Basin for backcountry thrills. Just below 13,000 feet and just outside the ski area's boundaries lies The Beavers, a hellishly steep bowl that holds more face shots than any other place we know. The area is accessible from the top of the Lenawee lift and the north gate leading to Forest Service land (just follow the boot-packed hiking trail to the top of the ridge and drop right in). If getting to The Beav is easy, though, skiing it is anything but. Even if you make it down the bowl in one piece, there's still a gully thick with trees to contend with. The avalanche danger is extreme here; only expert skiers and boarders equipped with beacons and avalanche probes should attempt to tame this animal. And the adventure's not over when you reach the end of the trail; skiers must take another set of boot-packed steps up to Loveland Pass and hitch a ride back to the ski area a mile down the road to collect their cars.


Best Out-of-Bounds Skiing That's Actually In-Bounds

Silverton Mountain

Silverton
Apart from a death wish, why do you rockheads ski out of bounds, anyway? Yeah, we know: for untracked powder, empty slopes and vertical drops that would strike terror into the heart of a skydiver. But why risk getting buried under a pile of champagne powder? Instead, make the drive to Silverton Mountain. Every run here must be guided, so a maximum of just forty skiers are permitted on the single-lift mountain per day. The area gets just over 33 feet of snow a year, so fresh powder isn't a problem. You want challenging? Silverton's easiest slopes average 30-degree drops -- what passes for a double-black diamond at most resorts. The steepest, about 55 degrees, practically require a belay. At $99 a day (reservations required), it's a bargain.

Best Out-of-Bounds Skiing That's Actually In-Bounds

Silverton Mountain

Apart from a death wish, why do you rockheads ski out of bounds, anyway? Yeah, we know: for untracked powder, empty slopes and vertical drops that would strike terror into the heart of a skydiver. But why risk getting buried under a pile of champagne powder? Instead, make the drive to Silverton Mountain. Every run here must be guided, so a maximum of just forty skiers are permitted on the single-lift mountain per day. The area gets just over 33 feet of snow a year, so fresh powder isn't a problem. You want challenging? Silverton's easiest slopes average 30-degree drops -- what passes for a double-black diamond at most resorts. The steepest, about 55 degrees, practically require a belay. At $99 a day (reservations required), it's a bargain.


Boulder mother Mary Emerson came up with the idea of Helmet Headz after witnessing an argument between parent and child over whether the peewee should wear a helmet in ski school. To make the experience a more stylin' one, Emerson invented covers that express a wearer's inner personality: Among her seventeen designs are the spiked-hair, jester and unicorn models. Prices range from $24.95 to $34.95; Helmet Headz are available at sporting-goods stores or online at www.vazisport.com.
Boulder mother Mary Emerson came up with the idea of Helmet Headz after witnessing an argument between parent and child over whether the peewee should wear a helmet in ski school. To make the experience a more stylin' one, Emerson invented covers that express a wearer's inner personality: Among her seventeen designs are the spiked-hair, jester and unicorn models. Prices range from $24.95 to $34.95; Helmet Headz are available at sporting-goods stores or online at www.vazisport.com.


Best Local Invention, Lifesaving Division

AvaLung

About ten years ago, Denver psychiatrist Thomas Crowley began wondering what it would be like to be buried under an avalanche. He decided it wouldn't be very pleasant, so he started tinkering with ways to survive one. After contemplating and then discarding several plans -- wearing a SCUBA tank while schussing seemed cumbersome -- he hit on the solution one August night while lying in bed. Why not design a device that could draw the air out of snow and then direct exhalations behind you? After several years of testing and perfecting, last year, for the first time, Crowley's invention - which he named the AvaLung -- worked in a real avalanche, saving a backcountry skier.

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