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BRIDGER BOWL

Looking for America’s best local ski hill? The search ends at Bridger Bowl. Located just 20 minutes north of Bozeman, Bridger possesses all the essentials: good snow, 2,500 feet of vert, and some of the tastiest expert terrain anywhere. What you won’t find are extravagant amenities or high prices. At Bridger, it’s about the skiing. And the skiing is about the powderhounds’ heaven of “the ridge.”

An exposed, rocky face, the ridge looms like a wall over the resort. When it’s covered in snow, it begs to be shredded. Accessed by established bootpacks from the lift-served terrain, it’s just a 20 minute hike to get up there. Short, but sweet. The object of the game is to find a daring, snow-choked chute through the very dangerous cliffs. Then swallow hard, drop in, sink past your knees in Bridger’s legendary cold smoke powder, and shriek like a six-year-old on a carnival ride when you emerge a few turns later, unscathed.

Alternately, head over the the recently installed Schlasman’s lift, an expert-only double chair that reaches the steep and the deep on the southern end of the resort. Note that an avalanche transceiver is required to ride Schlasman’s and to access the ridge as well.

Word to the wise: Bridger locals include some the strongest skiers and mountaineers in the world, along with many others who might wish for a bigger reputation on the slopes. Bridger skiers, not unlike the patrons of distant neighbor Jackson Hole Mountain, have been known to spray their turf with a competitive vibe. Should you encounter a bad attitude there, shrug if off. Remember, skiing’s really fun, regardless of how the guy next to you on the lift approaches it.

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