It's here: the growing buzz at your local ski shop. Approaching deadlines for resort season passes. Gear reviews in your Facebook feed. Fall seasonal beers and pumpkin spice Oreos (yes, that's a real thing). These happenings can mean only one thing -- winter is just around the corner!
Planning for the upcoming ski season requires not only buying your pass and booking your trip, but also thinking about the new things you want to try and the goals you want to accomplish. What's on your bucket list for winter 2014-15? Everyone has different experiences and ambitions, but here are a few ideas, ranging from simple to more aspiring.
1. Try a new ski area.
This one's pretty basic, but let's face it: how many of you are in a rut of visiting the same few ski areas over and over? How about giving a new ski resort a try? It could be the smaller hill that you drive past on your way to the bigger mountains, or it could be a big resort in another region of the country. You might be surprised at how much fun you have.
2. Ski your age.
I learned about this one riding a chairlift last season with a 65-year-old guy. His goal was to ski 65 days that winter, just like his goal had been 64 the season before. No matter how old you are, this one is a good challenge -- and one that gets harder every year.
3. Take a powder day.
Last winter, I was lucky enough to be staying at Mount Snow during a mid-week powder day. On one of the first chairs that morning, I rode with a guy who had driven up from Boston the night before and slept in his car so he could enjoy the freshies. And, yes, he had called in sick to work. Everyone needs to do that at least once. Bonus points if you do it during Liftopia's National Play Hooky and Ski Week.
4. Introduce someone new to snowsports.
Pass it on, bring a friend, and share the love! Bring someone new to the slopes this winter and help them in the process of becoming a snowsports enthusiast. It could be your own children, a friend, co-worker, neighbor, or anyone who hasn't been on snow before.
Tip: Get them into a lesson! Yelling, "Just turn" at your boyfriend is a guarantee that he'll be your ex-boyfriend before you get back to the parking lot. Head over to Learn to Ski & Snowboard for tips and ideas.
5. Ride all the resorts in your state.
The level of difficulty on this one depends on where you live. I've skied 17 of the 27 areas in Colorado, including two new ones last winter, so I still have 10 to go.
The state with the most ski areas? New York, with 50 places to slide on the snow, followed by Michigan (42), Wisconsin (32), California (28), New Hampshire (26), and Vermont (24). If you live in Maryland, Rhode Island, Tennessee, or Alabama (yes, Alabama!), you have no excuse for not checking this one off your list. Each of these states has only one downhill ski area.
6. Try a different way of sliding on the snow.
If you've been a snowboarder your whole life, maybe you should try two different planks on your feet. Or if you're an alpine skier, give Telemark skiing a try. Nordic skier? Try snowboarding.
Switching to new equipment not only provides a serious challenge (the green slopes that you normally bomb down without thinking suddenly seem a lot steeper), it also makes you even stronger on your primary equipment as you learn the fundamentals of balance, edging, and pressure on new gear.
7. Get outside the ropes.
Skiing outside the resort boundaries can take many forms, from simple human-powered backcountry riding to a full-blown heli-skiing trip. Many western resorts offer cat skiing, which is a great introduction to the snow beyond the ropes -- places like Copper, Brundage, Monarch, and Red Mountain all have cat skiing operations. There are also numerous stand-alone cat skiing opportunities, such as Steamboat Powdercats, Park City Powdercats, and Silverton Powdercats. Heli-skiing is big on many people's bucket list -- sometimes the trip of a lifetime. Start planning now so you can check this one off your list.
Editor's note: Backcountry skiing is extremely dangerous! We don't recommend going out of bounds until you've had the proper training and experience with guides.
These are just some ideas to get you started on your own bucket list. What's on your list for this winter?