TRAVEL CONCIERGE: Picture this: You, skins on your skis, bright blue sky, one blade at a time, tromping uphill. After a few hours, the reward, and you've earned it: sweet, trackless powder carved only by your S-turns the whole way down. No condo village in site, no hovering helicopters, it's just you and the mountain.
If you're craving an escape from the hectic work world, a retreat to the backcountry might be just the prescription. And again British Columbia dominates this market, says Ski Canada's Iain MacMillan, with lodges offering good workouts, gourmet meals and sweet sleeps. A helicopter, or sometimes a snowcat, will transport you there, and then it's you and your lodge mates and the wilderness.
Purcell Mountain Lodge, near Golden, B.C., and perched atop one of the largest alpine meadows in the heart of the Rockies, is considered a pioneer in the field. Sol Mountain Lodge, south of Revelstoke in the Monashee Mountains, offers summit-to-creek runs of 3,000 feet or longer. Or visit www.bcbackcountry.ca, which represents 28 lodges in four major mountain ranges, to help narrow the search.
Now picture this: looming deadlines, e-mail overload, the demanding boss and all those work worries soon disappearing in the deep powder.
The boys and I have already skied Banff and Whistler. What other resorts have a reputation for good steeps?
TRAVEL CONCIERGE: So you're still working on earning your black-diamond badges? Well, the answer is relative, my dears.
Unless it's extremely icy, a black-diamond run in Collingwood, Ont., just isn't as difficult as one in Quebec or the West, says ski writer Iain MacMillan. But some resorts have well-deserved reputations for being tough.
Three hills in the British Columbia mountains are up to your challenge, he suggests: Red Mountain Resort, in Rossland; Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, near Golden; and Revelstoke Mountain Resort, in Revelstoke.
"There are trail-map expert runs," says MacMillan, editor of Ski Canada magazine, "And all three also have excellent hike-to terrain."
Revelstoke, which boasts the highest lift-serviced vertical in North America, possesses good snow and steeps. Kicking Horse, which has actually trademarked the description "Champagne Powder Capital of Canada," claims bigger bowls. Red, with its roots in a gold-mining town, is blessed with fantastic tree skiing and excellent snow. Plus, they all offer accessible cat and heli skiing.
But just because they attract the adventure boys doesn't mean there isn't something for beginners too, with Kinder Clubs and snow schools among their offerings. And a bonus, beyond all those black diamonds? The resorts' locations off the beaten path make for short lift lines too.
Send your travel questions to The Concierge.
Karan Smith is a former Globe Travel editor.
Special to The Globe and Mail
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