High There!

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Americans hit the slopes 53.6 million times last year - that’s a lot of mouths to feed. Rising to the challenge, mountain destinations from Mammoth to Montana are elevating the snow-vacation experience by providing a plethora of pre- and apre?s-ski dining options.If El Nin?o lives up to his hype, this season’s mounds of snow will draw even larger throngs of people to the region’s resorts for everything from snowflakes to flaky pastry crusts to flaking out on work. Bundle up... it’s time to dig in. (No shovel required.)


New on the Ritz-Carlton’s patio is Backyard Bar & BBQ. The “blues, brews and BBQ” concept includes smoked ribs, beef brisket sandwiches, the “Yard Bird” half-chicken smoked on-site, wood-fired pizzas and more. Dress it up at the Ritz-Carlton’s Manzanita, where James Beard Award-winner Traci Des Jardins brings her Top Chef and Iron Chef chops to a menu offering organic, sustainable, local meats and produce from her open kitchen. For an incredible dinner, try the pork belly and ricotta ravioli with parsnip pure?e, pickled chanterelles and apple slaw.
Overnight accommodations: The Ritz- Carlton

Apre?s-ski: The patio at the new Backyard Bar & BBQ at the Ritz-Carlton is perfect for soaking up stunning mountain views and daily apre?s-ski drink specials from a full bar.

Insider tip: San Diegan and Olympian Shaun White designed the 22-foot superpipe.

Average annual snowfall: 350 inches Base elevation: 6,330 feet

Summit: 8,610 feet

Vertical: 2,280 feet

Longest run: 1 mile

Lift tickets: $106

Snow report:

Other activities: Geocaching (global interactive treasure hunt) lessons

SNOW SUMMIT, Big Bear Lake, CA

The big food-and-beverage news at Snow Summit is the introduction of an open-pit rotisserie barbecue on the spacious deck at the Summit Haus, which overlooks Big Bear Lake. Plans call for a whole pig to be cooked up daily, and a full bar specializing in local craft brews.

At the base, a new coffee and smoothie bar utilizes fresh local produce; and the Summit Inn offers breakfast, lunch and apre?s- ski. For Mama Lu’s pizza, wings, fish and more BBQ, plant your poles at the Slopeside Pub.
Overnight accommodations: Pine Knot Guest Ranch

Apre?s-ski: Hit the 13,000-square-foot outdoor deck area at the Beach Bar, or the local brewery in the mountain town of Big Bear Lake.

Insider tip: Exhibition Run is one of the steeper, least-crowded runs at the resort and has a view of Big Bear Lake.

Average annual snowfall: 100 inches

Base elevation: 7,000 feet

Summit: 8,200 feet

Vertical: 1,200 feet

Longest run: 1 mile

Lift tickets: TBD

Snow report:

Other activities: Snowshoeing

SNOW VALLEY, Running Springs, CA

For sit-down dining, go to WR’s Smokehouse and savor smoked beef, pork and chicken served in a knotty pine room warmed by a roaring fire. Weather permitting, head to Deer Meadow Grille’s outdoor patio for more BBQ, a full bar and great views from the deck. Made-to- order pizzas are perfect in Snow Valley’s Little Italy. If you arrive early, have a great breakfast and Starbucks at The Chalet, where lunch offerings include a quarter- pound hot dog and a 100-percent Angus beef burger with cheese, pulled pork, bacon, lettuce and tomato.
Overnight accommodations: North Shore Inn

Apre?s-ski: Hit Last Run Lounge for its hot-drink menu, draft beer selection, appetizers and daily happy hour from 3-5 p.m.

Insider tip: Frequent nighttime skiing sessions running until 9 p.m.

Average annual snowfall: 160 inches

Base elevation: 6,800 feet

Summit: 7,841 feet

Vertical: 1,041 feet

Longest run: 1 mile

Lift tickets: TBD

Snow report:

Other activities: Snow play and sledding


The newest restaurant in Mammoth Village is 53 Kitchen & Cocktails. For pre-ski fuel, try the chilaquiles: sliced avocado, charred salsa, cotija and cheddar cheeses, lime crema, cilantro and two eggs. For dinner, the smoked bourbon bacon mac ‘n’ cheese is a winner. New this season at Mammoth Brewing Company is an upstairs seating area available for private group events. For a sit-down, fine-dining experience, head to the Lakefront Restaurant, located in the Tamarack Lodge on Twin Lakes. Mammoth’s Burrito Cat brings the food- truck trend to the slopes (track it down on Twitter @MammothMountain).
Overnight accommodations: Westin Monache Resort (upscale), Mammoth Mountain Inn (old school)

Apre?s-ski: Visit the Yodler Restaurant and Bar for a European apre?s experience with schnitzel sandwiches at

the fireplace lounge.

Insider tip:
Highest summit elevation in the state of California at a height of 11,053 feet.

Average annual snowfall: 400 inches

Base elevation: 7,953 feet

Summit: 11,053 feet

Vertical: 3,100 feet

Longest run: 3 miles

Lift tickets: TBD

Snow report:

Other activities: Sledding and downhill inner tubing at Woolly’s Tube Park.


Food and drink play a major role in Big Sky Resort’s being among NorthAmerica’s top-ranked ski areas each year. New this season: Friday, Saturday and Sunday night dinners begin with a 6:00 p.m. ride up the Ramcharger High Speed Quad chairlift, which climbs 1,160 feet and unloads at Everett’s 8800. You’ll be dinning at 8,800 feet above sea level, where cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are followed by a fine-dining entre?e (which can be pre-ordered when making reservations on End the night with a chauffeured ride down the mountain in a specially equipped 12-passenger vehicle.
Overnight accommodations: Huntley Lodge.

Apre?s-ski: The new Montana Jack in the heart of the Mountain Village serves 100 beers (24 on tap) and live music nightly.

Insider tip: Head to Buck’s T-4 Lodge just down the mountain for wild game, bison tenderloin, house-cured duck bacon, foie gras cheeseburgers and more.

Summit: 11,166 feet

Vertical: 4,350 feet

Average annual snowfall: 400 inches

Longest run: 6 miles

Lift tickets: $96-$106

Snow report:

Other activities: Dog sledding

Base: 6,816 feet


Kickstart the day with specialty coffee and tea drinks at West End Java. After getting a few runs under your belt, consider lunch at the Rail View BBQ, or get beachy at the Aloha Grill N Chill and full bar. If you are with a group, Silver Mountain Eatery offers a variety of menu options, including Asian, Italian, Mexican, healthy salads, smoothies and grab-and-go items. The quickest option is Geronimo’s Outpost, Bear Mountain’s ski-in/ski-out eatery at the base of Chair 8.
Overnight accommodations: Mountain Vista Resort

Apre?s-ski: World Famous Beach Bar frequently has live music on its deck.

Insider tip: Southern California’s only superpipe.

Average snowfall: 100 inches

Base elevation: 7,139 feet

Summit: 8,804 feet

Vertical: 1,665 feet

Longest run: 2 miles

Lift tickets: TBD

Snow report:

Other activities: Zip lining


Start the day with an avocado iced coffee with vanilla at the Village Grind
in town (open by 6 a.m.), then head up the hill for breakfast at Angeles Crest Cafe? at the base of the East Resort. Pulled-pork sandwiches make for the perfect lunch at the outdoor Big Pines BBQ. For apre?s-ski cocktails, hit the Snowshoe Saloon in the East Resort. Off mountain, don’t miss Wrightwood’s family-owned Grizzly Cafe?, home of a mean Reuben sandwich and the Grizzly Bull (HAN Vodka + Red Bull). All over the hill, the new of- ficial quaff is ice cold “Yeti Amber Ale” from Tap It Brewing Co. of San Luis Obispo.
Overnight accommodations: Best Western

Apre?s-ski: For full-on black diamond booze, swill a stiff “Yeti Forgetty” at the Foggy Goggle, slope-side at the West Resort.

Insider tip: All-Season pass-holders now get three days free at nearby Snow Valley Mountain Resort.

Average annual snowfall: 132 inches

Base elevation: 6,600 feet

Summit: 8,200 feet

Vertical: 1,600 feet

Longest Run: 2 miles

Lift tickets: $30-$69

Snow report:

Other activities: Sledding and tubing at North Pole Tubing Park.

SQUAW VALLEY, Olympic Valley, CA

Local, sustainable food takes center stage April 1-3, 2016, at the second annual WinterWonderGrass, a three-day music and beer festival featuring bluegrass and acoustic roots performances. The new “Farm to Table + Movie Series” on December 28, 30 and January 1, offers a four-course, family-style meal followed by an all-ages movie, plus dessert and cock- tails for adults. New in town is the Truckee Tavern, with a focus on local ingredients and produce, and farm-raised, hormone-free meats.
Overnight accommodations: Village at Squaw Valley, PlumpJack Squaw

Valley Inn

Apre?s-ski: KT Base Bar, Le Chamois and the Loft Bar (Squaw’s most famous apre?s scene), Rocker@Squaw, Mamasake.

Insider tip: If you venture to Tahoe City or Truckee, leave your keys behind - this is the first ski season where North Lake Tahoe has Uber.

Average snowfall: 450 inches

Base: 6,200 feet

Summit: 9,050 feet

Vertical: 2,850 feet

Longest run: 3 miles

Lift tickets: $124 (purchase at least three days in advance for best price)

Snow report:

Other activities: Visit the recently renovated Olympic Museum. (The 1960 Winter Olympics took place at Squaw Valley.)


Deer Valley remains a can’t-miss stop for skiing and food - snowboarding is verboten. Get authentic Vietnamese Pho bowls, draft beers and assorted beverages at the new Bald Mountain Pho in the Silver Lake Lodge. Michelin-starred-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten serves a five- course tasting menu in the 13,000-bottle wine vault at the tried-and-true J&G Grill at the St. Regis Hotel. Fireside Dining at Empire Canyon Lodge features four courses served from stone fireplaces.
Overnight Accommodations: Deer Valley Lodge, Silver Baron Lodge

Apre?s-ski: The Brass Tag for oven fired chimichurri chips, deep-dish chocolate chip skillets and drinks.

Insider-tip: Pre-purchase lift tickets online, as Deer Valley limits the number of lift tickets sold daily and can cap out at holidays.

Base: 6,570 feet

Summit: 9,570 feet Vertical: 3,000 feet

Average snowfall: 300 inches

Longest run: 3 miles

Lift tickets: $120

Snow report:

Other activities: Snowmobiling

ZERMATT, Switzerland

At the foot of Switzerland’s most famous mountain, the Matterhorn, Zermatt is a picturesque, car-free ski resort that’s home to The Omnia Hotel and executive chef Stefan Krieglstein, recent winner of a Michelin Star (the culinary equivalent to an Oscar). The newcomer to the local dining scene is Alpine Gourmet Prato Borni, where chef de cuisine Ralph Busch oversees the kitchen.

For an exquisite meal and breathtaking views of the Matterhorn from 6,500 feet up, try Chez Vrony.
Overnight accommodations: Hotel Monte Rosa (upscale), Hotel Bahnhof

Apre?s-ski: Hennu Stall usually has a band playing and around 400 people getting into the groove.

Insider tip: Zermatt is a combustion- engine car-free zone, reducing air pollution and preserving the town’s iconic view of the Matterhorn.

Base elevation: 5,314 feet

Summit: 12,791 feet

Vertical: 7,477 feet

Average annual snowfall: 300 inches

Longest run: 16 miles

Lift tickets: $80

Snow report:

Other activities: Scottish and Bavarian curling tournaments.