Well, I've been thinking about this thread since it opened, trying to decide which are my favorite areas. What I have discovered is that it really is about the entire experience for me...
Last year at the ESA, Big Sky went onto my list. Not because we had Epic powder. Not because we were able to ski some of the incredible terrain off the tram. Not even because it was a skier's mountain. But, because I had a wonderful time with new (and long-time) friends on a mountain with enough snow to ski everywhere...
I have skied New England, California, and the Rockies. I grew up skiing in Michigan with jaunts to Blue Mountain in Ontario (I learned to ski at Nubs Nob). We had a lot of fun on the small bumps in southern Michigan (I learned to race at Mount Holly). I took a trip to Idaho and skied big mountains for the first time (Bogus and Sun Valley) in the spring. Wow! My first time skiing Stowe was classic (below zero, horse blankets, and me wearing only my wooly locks on my head). I skied Killington in an October rain (and "snow making") on the second day it was open, and found my lock still locked to the ski rack the next season.
I skied the Catskills, and each area's personality drew me for different reasons. We took a February trip to Snowbird and skied spring conditions. Not what I expected, but what a mountain! We moved to San Jose and I skied Tahoe. I learned to love Kirkwood, Sugar Bowl, and Homewood. Other areas I skied less (Mt. Rose was awesome, but farther to drive), but they also had their own special alure. We took a trip to Taos and skied spring conditions in February, again (steeps, Katchina Peak, wow!).
In 1990, we moved to Boulder. I've skied many of the Colorado areas (although, alas, never skied Berthoud Pass or Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park). Again, they are all different. I skied Copper a lot last season for the first time in many years (I was "working" there). But, I still enjoy the other Summit County areas, Vail, and The Beav.
What's my point? Only that skiing is far more than the mountain, the snow, the weather, or any other single element. I have had the joy of skiing with good friends on a knoll. Skied alone on a huge mountain. Skied in storms and on warm spring days.
Asking me to name my favorite area is kind of like asking me which of my kids is my favorite. They are all special. But infinitely different.
Let's just go!