While some may weigh a well-rounded resort experience heavily, others simply want the steepest, hairiest terrain they can find. If an adrenaline-filled, scare-yourself mountain sounds like the one for you, pin these spots on your map. Note: this list is based on North American ski areas.
Top 5 for Steeps:
01. Jackson Hole
If you couldn’t guess our number one pick, it’s simply because you haven’t been there. One week, one day, one solid run on this mountain and you’ll see what it’s all about. Whether you lap the tram or ride the lifts, ski inbounds or outside the gates, you won’t find anything like Jackson Hole.
You’ve probably heard of Corbet’s Couloir and the Hobacks. Yeah, they’re good. But they’re just the tip. You can lap the tram or ride the two highest quads, Sublette and Thunder, for steep and deep runs in the Alta and Mushroom Chutes. A short hike accesses the ever-fun and challenging Headwall, Casper Bowl and The Crags. And if you know where you’re going (or find a knowledgeable guide), the backcountry gates offer endless possibilities with Cody and No Name Peaks just beyond the boundary to the south as well as the infamous Granite Canyon to the north. Runs with names like Breakneck and Free Fall Wall allude to the topography, while simple ones like Central Couloir are awe-inspiring and chilling just to look at.
On a good snow year (and there are many), runs like Alta Zero fill in and you can put on a show under the Sublette chair as you style your way down, creating a cascading waterfall of snow. Or move just down Pepi’s Ridge and score an extra point by sending it off Goalpost. Whether you stick it or not, onlookers from the lift will applaud your attempt—or just heckle you for not sticking it.
Nowhere else can you regularly scare the crap out of yourself as easily, while hearing endless hooting and hollering as people slay lines and huck their meat off of every cliff in sight. This place isn’t for everybody, but if you’re looking for some of the most serious terrain you can find, the trail map should be a page stapled to your bucket list.
Above: Max Hammer sends it down Casper Bowl, Jackson Hole, WY. Shot by Wade McKoy/TGR.
We’ve already detailed why this star of British Columbia is popular, and the technically challenging terrain found within the resort is one of the main reasons. With sprawling alpine acreage included on the trail map and access to plenty more outside the boundary, you’ll never be bored or too comfortable.
03. Crested Butte
Tucked away in Western Colorado, Crested Butte isn’t the biggest resort on the list, but it’s definitely one of the baddest. Its signature sharp peak rises above 12,000 feet, and the mountain is littered with chutes, cliff bands, and steep, powder-filled bowls.
With only one lift, bringing you almost to the top, Silverton makes you work hard and then rewards your efforts. Steep chutes, bowls, trees and couloirs await you in every direction and ensure the adrenaline junkie inside you is thoroughly satisfied. Just make sure you bring your A-game for this beast.
05. Big Sky/Moonlight Basin
The recent merger of these two resorts means you can now get more runs out of Lone Mountain than ever before. Take the Lone Peak tram up and you can then go a multitude of directions for knife-edge ridges and knee-shaking lines.[poll id=”45″]
Top 5 for Deets:
It’s easy to say, “I love that place,” but the particulars that make us say it with conviction are the details we fall for, whether we’re at our home mountains or exploring new ones. You know it’s true love when you can’t stop telling people about that one burger you ate, the run you had or the wild night at a bar whose name you can’t remember. Here are some of the things that we think are worth falling in love with.
Peak Express, Whistler, BC. Shot by Reuben Krabbe.
Lifts to lap (’til the legs give out)…
Sublette Chair — Jackson Hole
Schlasman’s — Bridger Bowl
KT-22 — Squaw Valley
Peruvian Express — AltaSnowbird
Peak Express — Whistler
A bucket list of runs…
Alta Zero — Jackson Hole
Goat — Stowe
Alf’s High Rustler — Alta
Highland Bowl — Aspen Highlands
The Fingers — Squaw Valley
The best mountain meals…
Oatmeal Pancakes — Bonnie’s, Ajax
Buffalo Chili — Two Elk Lodge, Vail
Waffles — Corbet’s Cabin, Jackson
Chili — Basin Cafeteria, Loveland
Ketchup Soup & Crackers — Anywhere
Nobody likes a foggy goggle on a pow day, but once they get to the bottom, a sign emblazoned with “Foggy Goggle” may be just the place to revel in the day. Perhaps the most appropriate après bar name out there, it has been used all over the country. Here are a few of the best ones out there, for when you’re looking to make your vision a little less clear:
Toggenburg Ski Center