If there's one thing last year's terrible snow season made clear, it's that skiing and snowboarding is more of a numbers game than ever before. As average temperatures slowly but steadily tick higher, average snowfall ticks lower and so do ski industry profits and, closer to home, the cost-benefit of owning $1,500 skis. And, not to ruin your winter stoke, but that's the direction things are headed.
As you recall, 2011-12 was a warm, mild (read: crappy) winter. The first week of January—prime powder time—was the driest in history, and more than 1,500 daily record high temperatures were set across the country. Half of the nation's ski resorts opened late, nearly half closed early and visitation hit a 20-year low. The only area that was spared all season long was Alaska. This seaon is looking a hell of a lot better, though 2012 is on track to be—surprise!—the hottest year on record. The NRDC even released a report this month that maps out the demise of the ski industry over the next 80 years, as winter temps are projected to rise 4 to 10 degrees, snow depths across the West decline by 25 to 100 percent, and snow season is cut in half in the frosty Northeast. It's a bleak outlook that, the report projects, will lead to the shuttering of hundreds of resorts.
To put aside all of that doom and gloom (at least until we're enjoying aprés by the fireside, and prepped for debate), we decided to pull together a list of the 16 snowiest resorts in North America—plus the snowiest in the East, which was a bit farther down the list. These are the kinds of places that soldier on even in the worst of years, routinely getting 35 feet of fresh, natural powder every season. For an unbiased snowfall analysis, we turned to Tony Crocker, the passionate skier and even more passionate numbers guy behind bestsnow.net. Powder calls it "the most complete, comprehensive and objective guide to snowfall—and both prevailing and expected snow conditions—at North America's ski resorts ever published," and, frankly, we couldn't have said it better. Prepare to feast your eyes—and sick your skis—on the deepest snow in North America.