High-End Backcountry Skiing Adventures: Heavenly Valley to Kirkwood (Sierra Nevadas, CA)
Hut-to-hut ski trips, commonplace in the Alps, have yet to catch on in the States, mostly due to a lack of infrastructure (translation: not enough huts). But you can do it if you know where to look. In California, try Heavenly Valley to Kirkwood, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The resorts are a two-day ski from each other, with an old-world lodge in between.
Start out at the Sierra Ski and Cycle Works in South Lake Tahoe, which offers a rental package complete with avalanche beacons, probes, snow shovels, and skis. A mile away, Heavenly Valley's express lift takes you to the top of the mountain. Then it's straight off the backside, down and up over Freel Peak, at 10,881 feet, where "there's a nice wide open bowl, or you can ski a chute with great views of the whole lake," says Gary Bell, the shop's owner. Glide in through the front door at Sorensen's Resort for food, drinks, and your own log cabin. If you ask, they'll set you up with a bag lunch for Day Two through Red Lake Peak and Carson Pass. Finish with classic, steep ski lines off the 10,300-foot mountain called Round Top, which leads right to the Kirkwood Mountain Resort.