Is there enough snow mass at Snowmass? Have you tried to book a room at Vail to no avail? Worry no more. The Internet has turned the slippery slope of planning a ski vacation from double-black-diamond difficult to bunny-hill easy. Almost all the sites below provide updates on snow conditions, lodging and transportation while also offering excellent deals on gear. We, however, have chosen to focus on the quirks of each.
True to its title, this site provides maps of virtually every ski area in the world. You may be familiar with Aspen or Kitzb�hel, but have you ever seen the layout at Faraya Mzaar, in Lebanon? Or Glenshee, in Scotland?
Navigating moguls requires less nimbleness than surfing the joint Web site of Ski, Skiing and Freeze magazines, on which every story seems to link to five more. Ski bums, however, will appreciate the longer features, such as a travel piece about Switzerland, "In the Land of the Jungfrau," while rope-tow-level schussers should click on "Top Ten Ski Schools."
Let's face it: You are never going to sit in a shark cage, coo into Liz Hurley's ear or go hell-skiing. Accept that before you log on to the coolest Alpine home page. The H2O guides shepherd hell-skiing hellions to the peaks of Alaska's majestic Chugach Range. For $500 a day, as one satisfied customer reports on the site, "it's like being six years old again and romping through Disneyland."
"We decided to meet at 2 p.m.," writes the lovelorn mogul maven, "at the top of Ram's Head. The wind was howling and cold, so the 10 minutes waiting for her was a bit painful...." For anyone who has ever barked "Single!" while on a lift line, this site, which provides a network for those seeking to date fellow skiers, is a must.
Our favorite underground site, Powder Hound, is maintained by Hans (no last name given), a self-described Canadian ski bum. His tips for avalanche prevention and for skiing "the heavenly glades" (i.e., trees) are a must-click, as is his "X-treme Wipeouts" link.
England's most popular ski Internet site is ideal for booking trips to the Alps and Pyrenees. We especially enjoy the weekly on-line poll. Last week's question was "Would you let your daughter be a chalet girl?" One respondent replied, "No way.... Most seem to end up returning home in tears, with a bun in the oven, put there by some slimy French ski bum." Across the pond, it seems, avalanches are hardly the only danger.