"Hell is other people," wrote philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Nowhere is this more true that in a mountain resort. When the snow is pristine and the weather is perfect, pretty much the only thing ballsing up a resort is the crowds. They clog up the parks, track the best snow, block the bars at après. Only in the mountains would you put up with half-hour long queues, screaming children and overpriced instant coffee.
Which is why we're curating a list of lesser-known ski resorts. That's not to say these resorts are perfect (instant coffee is instant coffee, wherever you go). But they are definitely less crowded than the likes of Whistler or Courcheval. While local riders have been tracking their pistes for years, as Brits, we need a little more educating on those foreign spots that are a little off the trodden path.
So instead of heading to your usual French home-from-home, why not try one of these resorts?
Los Penitentes, Argentina
It's not necessarily one for beginners but the adventurous among you will dig this Argentinian resort. Compact and modern, Los Penitentes sits close to the Chilean border under the gaze of the country's highest mountain Aconcagua. From the top chair, you can test yourself on some tricky lines and little couloirs. With 300 hectares of terrain, you're not going to track it all in one day - but we've heard the powder is pretty damn good. And just think of those steaks you'll have for dinner.....
Speaking of tracks, Zinal's a resort with some of the best backcountry in the Alps. Think picturesque Swiss wooden cabins and untouched pow. Located at the end of the Anniviers' Valley, it's relatively off the beaten track when it comes to escaping crowds. They've got a new cable car this season linking Zinal up to Grimentz, so you can shred both resorts to your heart's content. Make sure you take a wander around inside the ice palace-style Zinal Glacier.
So the Ziller valley is mainly known for its big names - Mayrhofen and Hintertux - but there is more to the area. Meet Hochfügen, the cooler, quieter younger brother. The Freeride World Tour qualifiers are held here, so there's some pretty gnarly faces to be discovered. And if you miss the bustle of Austria's busier pistes, the Zillertaler Superskipass covers all 662km. Best of both worlds.
Golden Alpine Holidays, Canada
It may sound like a cheesy North American family resort - but Golden is actually home to some gnarly British Columbian backcountry. It's one of the first backcountry resorts to open in Canada and was recommended to us by Roxy rider Robin Van Gyn for its insane powder and unspoilt views. At three times the size of Whistler-Blackcomb with only a handful of lodges to stay in, you're almost guaranteed absolute solitude from, well, everyone. The only downside? It's only accessible by heli. Stay in the town of Golden below before making the mission up or take a detour to the nearby Kicking Horse resort.
Arabba just goes to prove there's more to the Dolomites than Val Gardena. As one of the highest resorts in the region, there's a proper chance of snow on arrival compared to lower altitude resorts. The Porto Vescovo side has some super challenging runs plus some testing off-piste, which make this a great little resort for a week's break. OK, so it may not sit well with party animals (there's next to no nightlife) but Arabba's not about dancing on tables and drinking jager - it's about seriously sick riding.
Poiana Brasov, Romaniax
Poiana Brasov is one of Romania's biggest resorts - so there will be a few more riders on the slopes than just you. However, you're unlikely to bump into huge groups of Brits abroad. Despite being a small resort, it offers some decent runs from the pretty resort village, just above the town of Brasov. The good thing about Romania is everything is very cheap for us Brits. Lift passes are only £19 per day and you can easily eat (with a few beers thrown in too) for under £15. It's also close to Dracula's castle in the Transylvania region, which can only be a bonus.
La Molina, Spain
Spain is generally more associated with sunbathing and tapas than a rad resort to go riding - but La Molina is one of those lesser-visited Pyrenean resorts that needs discovering. Despite being the oldest ski resort in Spain, they've stayed ahead of modern standards with high-tech chair lifts as well as winning an award from environmentally-friendly engineering! Plus there's a decent park and super pipe for the freestylers among us and plenty of trees in desperate need of shredding.
If your idea of heaven is natural hits and stacks of untracked off-piste, and you're prepared for a bit of hiking, then Narvik is for you. It's remote and suitably quiet, but worth braving the harsh weather (and steep prices) for spectacular views of the fjords around Narvikfjellet. Plus there's a high chance you'll catch sight of the Northern Lights up here. Peak season is usually February to early April, but there's often still powder in May so you can ride for long into the evening.
Grand Targhee, USA
Only an hour away from the mega resort of Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee may not have the same gnarly terrain but it definitely lacks the crowds. With a cool average 13m of snow per year, it actually gets more than the Jackson Hole. Combine this with fewer riders equals freshies all days long. The appeal with Targhee is that it offers easy access to the backcountry. But if you fancy sticking to the pistes, then there's 809 acres worth to satisfy you. Plus it's not as expensive as the neighbouring mega resorts.
Broken River, New Zealand
Broken River is a resort with a backcountry feel to it, thanks to its huge wide open powder fields with next to no crowds. It does have more back to basics approach than other resorts. Nearby Craigieburn usually gets the most attention but Broken River shouldn't be overlooked - its powder lasts longer due to lack of tracks. The only downside is the only way to get to the top is by T-Bar. But I think we can deal with a bit of thigh-burn for quiet, pow runs and kickass views.