EXPERT • December 2018
With the ski season under way around the world, the good news for powder hounds everywhere is that it promises to be an outstanding winter, with plenty of new ways to enhance your mountain-going experience. As thoughts turn to booking the next snowy sojourn, adventure travel writer Jonathan Thompson whisks us through the highlights
La Plagne is officially the most visited ski resort in the world – and keen to maintain its lead. There are a number of big developments in the popular Tarantaise resort this year, from the opening of ho36, an ambitious new hotel concept for solo skiers, to an enormous new luxury La Plagne Bains et Spa in Belle Plagne. The resort is also the first to launch a clever smartcard system combining lift pass, loyalty programme and cashless payment, which means you’ll never have to take your wallet on the slopes again.
There’s nothing worse than cold feet inside tight ski boots, especially when you’re stuck on a long chairlift. Now K2 has launched the perfect solution – a range of fully customisable boots, fitted with Thermic Heat Technology. Simply charge them via USB before you leave the chalet, and enjoy warm toes for up to 19 hours. If toasty feet isn’t enough for you, specialist clothing brand Blaze Wear will do the same for the rest of your wardrobe, too – including an ingenious range of heated base layers, new for this season.
Too long overshadowed by Colorado and Canada, Utah’s ski scene is finally having its day in the sun (after heavy snowfall overnight, obviously). Already home to the Sundance Film Festival each January, and the fluffiest powder on the planet (thanks to the Great Salt Lake’s unique drying effect on snow-laden clouds), the Beehive State is gearing up for a number of top-end openings this winter. Chief among them is the game-changing Snowpine Lodge, a beautiful ski-in, ski-out property in Alta, less than 40 minutes’ drive from Salt Lake City International Airport.
Foggy goggles are up there as one of the top peeves for skiers and snowboarders alike. A few brands have tried inserting tiny fans into the frames to combat this, but it can be very hit and miss. This year, there’s a proper solution – enter the Abom Heet, a unique American goggle that works rather like the defroster on your car’s rear windscreen, clearing your vision at the push of a button. It means you can enjoy the spectacular scenery – and spot any unexpected trees in plenty of time.
This year, of course, saw the centenary of Armistice Day in 1918. To mark the occasion, tour operator Scott Dunn is launching a groundbreaking holiday – a First World War ski tour through the Dolomites. Due to its strategic location on the Italian-Austrian border, the region played a key part in the conflict and the 80km route features four days of visiting key sites with an English-speaking ski guide, including mountain huts, museums, parapet walks and forts. It also includes some of the finest and longest runs in Europe, making it a victory for serious skiers as well as history buffs.
Remember Pierce Brosnan wearing that inflatable ski jacket during The World is Not Enough? Q should have handed him this rucksack instead. The new Dakine Poacher RAS is about as technical as they come. Like Brosnan’s coat, there’s a life-saving airbag at the ready, but also two-way radio compatibility, an A-frame ski carry system, and places for all the necessary tools when you’re heading into the back country. And, unlike Brosnan’s coat, it actually looks good.