When I found a shriveled up piece of last year’s fruit in my backcountry ski pack that had petrified and attached itself to my climbing skins, I could have taken that sign as a bad omen for the ski season ahead. That early December night, the snow we had been counting on turned to rain in the mountains, and as it so happened, it would be weeks before my freshly cleaned pack would see a sweaty back and a dusting of fresh snow.

Fast forward through the holidays and winter finally found itself. Better late than never. It’s amazing how a few powder days and beautiful, blue sky breaks between storm cycles can almost make you forget a rough start to winter.

You may have noticed that this issue of Out There Monthly breaks from the publication’s 10-plus year tradition of having only one month listed on the cover. This 2015 “Winter Adventure Guide” issue is a thicker, two-month older brother compared to last year’s thinner winter additions. Billed as a special double issue, inside you’ll find winter travel and adventure ideas from around the region, from snowshoeing and parade going in Sandpoint, polar plunging in Whitefish, Nordic racing in Winthrop, hitting the hot springs in Nelson, sunny singletrack riding and taco truck hopping in Tri-Cities, and hiking frozen waterfalls in the Selkirks. With gas prices so low that it’s almost creepy, this winter is about as good as it gets for loading up the family wagon or dirt-bag mobile for a wild, snowy road trip to remember.

This first OTM Winter Adventure Guide is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s out there too. If you look in the right places, there are full-blown winter carnivals; eclectic mom and pop ski hill events; quirky competitive races over frozen landscapes; mountain-top ragers; inspiring expressions of artistic and creative passion of the frosted kind; and endless places to get lost in or lose track of responsibilities and stress while wandering snow-covered mountains.

We hope this thicker, meatier two-month issue of Out There sustains you through the dark, cold months ahead. We’ll be back in March with warmer days in mind with our “spring fever” issue. In the meantime, there are slopes to be skied, mountains to snowshoe, winter festivals to attend to, trails to fat bike and skinny ski, and quiet winter days and nights that can seem swallowed up in white blankets of sparkling snow to revel in. //