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KEYSTONE LIES somewhat in the shadow of its Colorado neighbours, Vail and Breckenridge. But while the last two are, in my view, rather overrated, Keystone is equally underrated.

Its lift system switchbacks away from the resort, crossing two peaks on the way to a third, the 3,625m Outback, which just protrudes from the heavily forested area. On a cold and windy day, the journey can seem like a heroic expedition, taking you away from the comfort of the new-age Inxpot coffee shop and bookstore at the River Run base to an age-old wilderness area in the two bowls beyond the top of the Outback Express lift.

No one could claim that Keystone's skiing, mainly intermediate, provides any greater challenge than that of Vail and Breckenridge; but it is more varied, with big mogul fields, some good tracks through the trees and a night-skiing area.

The resort base at River Run is new, built in a post-modern mining-town style, to a plan by the US's leading resort architect. It's a quiet place, but not so quiet as the Alpenglow Stube, the gourmet restaurant at the 3,554m North Peak where diners pad around in courtesy slippers.

Operators offering packages to Keystone include Crystal (020 8399 5144), Ski the American Dream (020 8552 1201) and Ski Independence (0870 555 055)