February 25, 2019
Travel & Photography: A Discussion with Nigel Barker
Where did 2018 go? Summer has turned into fall. In many parts of the US, people are watching the hackberries turn yellow. The buckeyes and walnuts have given up the ghost.
Soon winter will be here.
If you’re a skiing fan, you’ll be hitting the slopes before you know it. Read on for a list of the best skiing spots in the US, and around the world, to visit this season.
Even people who don’t know anything about skiing have likely heard of Vail. Situated at the base of Vail Mountain, about 100 miles west of Denver, Vail transforms into a wonderland park of winter sports during the cold months of the year, drawing skiers and snowboarders from around the world.
In the summer, it doubles as an outdoorsman’s paradise for hikers, golfers, and fishermen. Nestled within the White River National Forest, Vail offers steep ravines, snow-dusted forests, and maybe the most charming mountain town you’ll ever go to.
If you’re a GoPro enthusiast, you’ll want to adjust the frame rate. A fast frame rate will avoid jerky footage.
Camera Jabber recommends setting your GoPro camera to a 60fps. This is the ideal rate for skiing, but if you’re looking to capture jumps or turns in slow motion, adjust the camera to 120fps.
Shifting the compass 1,500 miles east of Vail, we drop down in Snowshoe, West Virginia, to look at what a mountain resort is like in the opposite end of the country. Snowshoe is cradled in the Alleghany Mountains, about a 5-hour road trip from DC, and built at the convergence of two ridges, which makes for daunting slopes.
The Alleghenies are far older than the Rockies, and people have commented on how the peaks seem more knob-like rather than dramatic, but no less striking. The slopes here are exhilarating, so be sure to brush up on how to capture shots of action sports even as you’re hurtling through the air.
Travel 12 hours north on I-87 from Snowshoe and you’ll arrive at Sugarbush Resort, near Burlington, Vermont. The Northeast is famous not only for its russet-and-gold autumn splendor, but for its pristine snow that caps its mountains and makes for excellent winter sporting.
One of the largest ski resorts in New England, Sugarbush boasts over 4,000 acres, with nearly 600 skiable trails and 16 ski lifts. Plus, you’ll be among cold-weather people, so expect firesides and maple syrup once you come in ruddy-faced from the elements.
Proud as Americans are of their skiing, British Columbia stands shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the destinations above. As Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia has about the same population as Melbourne, Australia, but a landmass roughly the size of France, Germany, and the Netherlands put together.
This is a vast, rugged terrain of inland deserts and temperate rainforests. Mountains cover two-thirds of BC, which perhaps accounts for why it’s home to three famous ski resorts – Revelstoke, Whistler, and Shames Mountain Ski Area. Let’s go over each one.
That all three resorts are in British Columbia makes it sound like they’re neighbors.
Actually, Revelstoke (nicknamed “Reve”) is a 6-hour drive from Whistler, which is 20 hours south of Shames. (Just because Shames borders the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary shouldn’t dissuade you from hitting the slopes there.)
This far north, the continental snow is legendary, and the inspiration for the name “Powder Highway,” the interstate that weaves north to Revelstoke.
From there, hop on the Sea-to-Sky Highway west to Whistler, famous for its maze of glaciated mountains and alpine valleys that turn to lush hiking trails in warm weather.
Whistler has become such a popular destination that the lodging you find there ranges from upscale hotels to backpackers’ hostels. The feeling at Shames, meanwhile, is that you’re skiing among other aficionados. The accommodations are far less touristy. The website lists such enticements as washrooms, lunch tables, “and a microwave” to lure people into ski-heaven.
They also offer lockers, which is all you need to store your phone or your GoPro. Both are easy-to-pack devices that you can pull out anytime you want to get shots from the lift or as you’re racing down the mountain.
The Spartan digs notwithstanding, Shames offers “1,600 vertical feet of powder” to play in, so it may actually be a snowy Eden. Just watch out for the grizzly bears.
World-class skiing isn’t limited to North America. Chamonix, a French ski resort on the border with Switzerland and Italy, offers five different skiing areas:
Think alpine valleys, dramatic crags, and villages that have hardly grown in 200 years. The most iconic landmark of this region is Mont Blanc. Translated as “White Mountain,” Mont Blanc is named after – you guessed it – for all the snow. Rising 15,777 feet above sea level, Mont Blanc is the tallest mountain in the Alps, and the 11th most “topographically prominent summit” on the planet. Ascend to this height and you’ll get to enjoy the perks of Alpine culture – firesides, French stews, and hearty pours of wine and beer.
Yes, White Mountain is so white that it may be tough to get good shots of it since the reflective qualities of snow alter the light in unexpected ways. To get a high-quality shot, try these tips when taking pictures in the snow:
All the destinations above will provide you with plenty of invigorating skiing. When you get there, though, make sure you pause at the apex of your ski-lift. Lift your visor. Look out on the drifting flakes, the snowy plateaus, the panorama of bright stillness.
When you get back home, you will have wished you’d taken a picture in this moment. So wherever you go, be sure to bring your GoPro, camera, or phone along with you, so that you can capture every detail of the stunning vistas.