Sure, there are a ton of great après-ski spots out there, but what about bars on top of a glacier, or on the side of a cliff, or that you basically have to hit BEFORE you ski down the mountain? That's right, there aren't nearly as many boozers built on actual mountaintops (or even mid-mountain, really), but we managed to track down eight high-elevation watering holes you really shouldn't miss. Especially since one of 'em has go-go dancers.
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Tiger Leaping Gorge, China Literally located in Shangri-La (County), this Himalayan hostel is famous for its position at the highest point along the upper trail on Tiger Leaping Gorge, and for the stunning views from its patio. Also, for its communal bathroom. Seriously: a 2004 BBC documentary called it the "number-one toilet in heaven and Earth." It's also known for friendly service, clean if hardly luxurious accommodations, and a simple breakfast. Pro tip: start your hike early in the day if you expect to reach this "halfway" point by nightfall.
Heavenly, CA OK, so technically, this lively establishment inside Tamarack Lodge at the top of the gondola isn't at the top of Heavenly (it's at what it calls "mid-mountain"), but it's close enough, and the wild, unique-to-North America parties thrown there -- complete with their own go-go dancers, the Heavenly Angels -- will make you feel like you're some place even higher than the nearby peaks.
Zermatt, Switzerland No, it doesn't sit atop the famed Disney thrill ride. It's on the actual Matterhorn. Yes, the one in the Alps! Located inside the summit station of Europe's highest aerial cableway (at almost 13,000ft), this newly renovated and modern restaurant/bar serves up all-day eats (highlights included Swiss specialties like rosti w/ veal sausage and burgers/pub fare), as well as unparalleled views of the surrounding peaks.
Telluride, CO Reached via an enclosed "snow coach" -- or, you know, skis/snowboard -- this slope-side spot overlooking the Wilson Range is the highest-elevation fine-dining restaurant in North America (11,966ft). It serves a multi-course Italian menu and boasts a sprawling multi-level deck (with covered daybeds and sheepskin throws!) where you can drink in the view... and vino from the outdoor wine bar.
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand The highest bar in all of Oceania, this ultra-modern chalet/cafe located on top of an active volcano is more than a place to drink/drink in stunning views of the surrounding park; built of pre-fab panels (helicoptered to the top), its award-winning design can withstand sub-zero temperatures, heavy snowfall, and wind gusts up to 125mph
Beech Mountain, NC Built in 2013 at the top of this popular ski area (guess how high it is!), this circular glass building with a retractable roof offers 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the chance to chill on a 2,800sqft deck, and a lineup of DJs and other entertainment if actually hitting the slopes isn't enough for you.
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Lijiang, China Purportedly the world's highest drinking establishment, this simple spot near the Northern Hemisphere's southernmost glacier sits at over 13,600ft -- so high that there's oxygen offered at the bottom of the mountain before you head up.
Squaw Valley, CA It might not be quite as cool as Le Chamois down the mountain, but this bar posted up at 8,200ft right next to the resort's sprawling Jacuzzi is the only spot on our list to offer pool parties along with scenic views (of the Sierras and Lake Tahoe). Too bad it's only open about four hours a day.
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Bradley Foster is a former Thrillist editor whose fondest memory of the year he spent living in South Lake Tahoe is rappelling from a gondola at Heavenly. But of course that was before Unbuckle Apres opened.