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7 alternatives to the classic ski trip

Ice Climbing in Chamonix, France

Where to play: Chamonix is famous for its ice climbing, and offers more than 200 routes on which to do it. All the necessary equipment can be rented or purchased in Chamonix village, and climbing with an experienced mountain guide is recommended. New to the sport? Start at La Cremerie, in the Argentiere area, where some of the routes are a gentle 45 degree slope.

Where to stay: The Hotel Mont Blanc looks more like an elegant Parisian townhouse than a traditional ski lodge. The sleek indoor pool has floor to ceiling windows to take in the mountain views.

Fat Biking in Aspen

Where to play: Too snowy to cycle? Not in Aspen. One of the newest outdoor sports is snow biking, or fat biking, and Aspen is a pioneer of the activity. These bikes have heavy, rigid frames and tires that are two-to-three times the size of regular ones, and feature large brake levers which can easily be operated even while wearing mittens. Sun Dog Athletics organizes fat biking instruction and excursions.

Where to stay: The Viceroy Snowmass is a modern, ski-in ski-out hotel. Unwind at the 7,000 square foot Viceroy Spa or pick up a picnic lunch from the in-house Eight K Restaurant, which uses organic and locally sourced ingredients when possible.

Paragliding in Jackson Hole

Where to play: One of the best ways to take in the snowy landscape of the Grand Tetons is by soaring over it – not in a plane or a helicopter but by paragliding. Visitors can sign up for paragliding lessons or try it tandem style through Jackson Hole Paragliding.

Where to stay: Rent a luxury contemporary home from The Clear Creek Group, such as Shooting Star Cabin. The concierge can arrange everything from private dinners to snow safaris. Beyond paragliding and stellar skiing, Jackson Hole also offers dog sledding to Granite Hot Springs, where you can take a dip in 110 degree water. 

Rocket-Shoeing in Mad River Valley, Vermont

Where to play: Snow shoeing is available all over New England, but Vermont-based Clearwater Sports offers a new twist on it. With the Rocket Shoe adventure, guests snow-shoe up the Lincoln Road Gap in the Green Mountains, which is closed during the winter, and then sled down on a Madriver Rocket sled. For the uninitiated, a rocket sled is a Vermont-made sled you kneel on, and steer by leaning.

Where to stay: The Inn at Round Barn Farm has a contemporary farm house look while retaining all its traditional coziness. Breakfast features seasonal and locally sourced food, such as Vermont roasted coffee.

Skijoring in Wisconsin

Where to play: Skijoring, a Norwegian sport that combines cross-country skiing with dog power, is popular in the badger state. Participants wearing cross-country skis harness themselves to a dog and take off (this can also be done with horses.)

Where to stay: If you're seeking log-cabin luxe, Canoe Bay is the Midwest’s only Relais & Chateaux property, and is spread out on 300 private, picturesque acres. Nearby Hayward, Wisconsin is host of the largest and most famous cross-country ski event in North America, the American Birkebeiner, where skijoring is a featured event.

Snowkiting in Whistler, BC Canada

Where to play: If you’re a fan of kite-surfing, here’s your chance to try it on the snow and ice. In Whistler, participants can snowkite across Lake Green when it’s frozen, or take a helicopter (or snowmobile) to the Pemberton Ice Cap. Visit from late December to early March when winds are the best and arrange lessons through Squamish Kite Boarding School. (Bonus: Whistler also has one of the best apres-ski dining and nightlife scenes of any ski resort.)

Where to stay: The Four Seasons Resort Whistler is minutes from the village. The heated outdoor pool offers sweeping views of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Sidecut restaurant serves lighter than usual apres-ski fare, such as sushi and fennel dusted scallop-pumpkin ravioli.

Dog Sledding in Mont Tremblant, Canada

Where to play: Dog sledding, or mushing, may look like you’re coasting along behind a pack of dogs, but it is actually an active sport (see: jumping off the sled and running at top speed when the dogs go uphill). Mont Tremblant, where guests can be the musher, rather than just sit wrapped up in a sled, is located near Montreal, and offers the taste and feel of a European village, minus the long flight. The Tremblant Activity Centre organizes dog sledding through the surrounding hills and valleys. 

Where to stay: The Fairmont Tremblant is located right in the heart of the village, and many of the streamlined rooms offers views of Mont Tremblant. Its slopeside Nansen Lounge is a stylish place to refuel on nibbles like crab and lobster mini burgers.