Nicole Alper—It’s about this time — in the waning days of winter — that I start to regret my impatience for spring. Yes, I’m excited about the impending burst of snowdrops. But I’m also still hungry for just plain snow. My mission? Extend winter with adventures that go well beyond the downhill slopes. And for that I’m prepared to don alpine touring skis and head up a mountain, scream commands at a bunch of yelping huskies and even strap on a kite.
Hut-to Hut-Alpine Touring in Colorado
Alpine skiing in Aspen (Photo: Aspen Alpine/Facebook)
It’s just hours into my first hut-to-hut trip when my Alpine Touring skis hit the upward slope of a small dip and grind to a halt, planting my face firmly in the snow. I am on a two-night, three-day hut-to-hut ski adventure with Aspen Alpine Guides along the 10th Mountain Division. It’s the most comprehensive hut system in the United States — and it’s far too soon for performing these kinds of acrobatics. Despite the learning curve, it’s so worth it.
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This is that rare chance to immerse in the backcountry of Aspen Colorado’s White River National Forest wilderness — a spot usually reserved for chioneuphores (snow operational animals). Best part? Margy’s, a bare-bones pine hut, with the world’s best outhouse view, sweeping across the vast Spruce Creek Valley.
Victorian Chair Skating in New York
The view from Mohonk House’s skating pavilion (Photo: Mohonk House)
It may sound a bit precious, but blasting into the Victorian past — while still firmly planted in a chair — has the same appeal as an intense snowball fight. It’s just too good to pass up. To get up to speed in the adventure of Victorian chair skating, head to the 145-year old Victorian castle-styleMohonk House, where winter is replete with thousands of twinkling lights. Just strap on a pair of skates and take a seat as your partner does all the work pushing you across the 9,375-square-foot ice skating pavilion.
Dog Sledding in Jackson, Wyoming
Your dog sledding adventure awaits! (Photo: jhsledding.com)
“Mush! Haw! Gee!” I hear myself screaming what sound like the babblings of a small child. I’m in Jackson, Wyoming, just outside Yellowstone National Park on a expedition withJackson Hole Dog Sled Tours, led by a team of exceedingly animated blue-eyed huskies. This is, hands down, the best way to take in the winter wonderland of geysers and immaculate snow blankets.
After hours of tearing through backcountry, I get down to my skivvies to take a plunge in the warm thermal pools at Granite Hot Springs. Emerging from the water can challenge your will to ever get dressed again, but promises of a hot lunch lure me back to land and my canine transport.
Animal Tracking in Romania
Go back in time at the Kálnoky Hunting Manor (Photo: Joel Abroad/Flickr)
For Dracula fans, the idea of spending time with a count in a castle in Transylvania sounds like a lark. But in the tiny village of Miklósvár, Romania, Count Tibor Kálnoky is very much a reality at his Transylvanian estate. Okay, so he’s sporting a conservative button-down dress shirt, not fangs. But his ancient family estate, a 1500’s hunting manor chock-full of Saxon antiques, wood stoves, and Renaissance wall decorations, has all the allure of a classic fairytale. In the winter guests are shuttled around the snowy foothills of the Carpathians by horse-drawn carriages, tracking the footprints of bears, wolves and lynxes.
Northern Lights Snowmobiling in Sweden
Take in the gorgeous skies of Sweden on a snowmobile (Photo: Hotel Arctic Eden/Facebook)
The Northern Lights — a spirited dance between charged particles escaping the sun and the earth’s magnetic field — light up the Swedish night skies like a Katy Perry halftime show. At the Hotel Arctic Eden, a converted school-turned-retreat in central Kiruna, snowmobiles are the magical mystery ride, undulating over the white crunch across a vast stretch of land. And when the skies come to life in a crash of neon pyrotechnic force it’s as if nothing else exists, or basically ever has to again.
Cooling Off at Ice Hotels Around the World
Stay in one of the amazing sculpted ice rooms (Photo: Ice Hotels/Facebook)
Ice hotels have become almost de riguer winter abodes across the globe, from Quebec to Sweden. As most come fully equipped with the requisite ice bar, where you can knock back 80-proof elixirs from glasses of carved ice, an ice chapel (for spontaneous weddings, and possibly confessions) and an ice slab lined in deer skin for a good, albeit arctic, night’s sleep, the trick is to stand out.
Sweden’s IceHotel delivers a twist with a “ski in - ski out” photography and light exhibit on the process of constructing such a modern igloo. And in Romania, the Hotel of Ice goes so far as to build out a full Winter Park, offering everything from curling to snowboarding.
Ski Sailing in Norway
Try not to get blown away by the ski sailing experience in Norway (Photo: Hotel Finse)
Once a refuge for train passengers caught by avalanches on the Oslo-Bergen railway, Hotel Finse is set between two Norwegian National parks in an isolated tundra, making this prime territory for ski sailing. Expeditions actually use Finse as their training base before polar expeditions.
What’s required? Strap on skies and a specially outfitted kite pack. After some dedicated hours of awkwardness and enough rolls to soften all your edges, you’ll (hopefully) take to the air like a snowbird, soaring over craggy terrain in a seemingly infinite jump. Or at least some very extended bounces.
Check out our original adventure travel series A Broad Abroad.
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