Best American Adventures: Ski the Wallowas

We've just updated our popular America's
Best Adventures
feature with 50 new trips, bringing our grand total to 100 iconic escapes (see the map, state-by-state list, and photo gallery, too). So no matter what your pleasure—hiking,
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By Kate Siber; Photograph by Mike Hamman

Mention skiing the Wallowas and the response might
be hushed silences from die-hard skiers or, more likely … crickets. But
therein lies the appeal of this remote, off-the-radar mountain range
rising from the no-man’s-land of eastern Oregon. The Wallowas are
somewhat of an anomaly: Though they’re geographically closer to the
Cascades, they more closely resemble the Rockies with their dry,
superlight snowpack and steep, jagged peaks.

With
few lifts in sight and the best skiing a morning-long hike from the
nearest road, savvy skiers set up camp in the wilderness to tour the
backcountry for multiple days. Wallowa Alpine Huts, run by a bunch of
entertaining ski bums, offers trips that do just that with the help of
five yurts. Choose the McCully camp for gentle meadows, sparse glades,
easy summits, and a smattering of challenging chutes. Or opt for the
Norway camp for knee-weakening peaks and steeper terrain. Either way,
the experience offers plenty of challenge, but the long hours of
climbing are rewarded with powder that’s light, dry, and often
knee-deep; a wood-fired sauna at the end of the day; and the smug
satisfaction of having the whole place utterly to yourself.

Need to Know: Contact Wallowa Alpine Huts (www.wallowahuts.com)
for trip dates. A guided and catered trip costs $625 for four days or
$725 for five days. Unguided, four-day trips start at $200 per person.

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