the north face bones beanie America’s Steepest Slopes Evoke Sheer Rapture In Downhillers
While practically every major resort has several runs that qualify as ”gut busters,” there are eight ski areas in North America that excel in steep runs.
What makes these mountains so difficult? What are some of their toughest and most pulsating runs?
Every skier beginner, intermediate and expert who arrives at Taos is immediately transfixed by a ski run that seemingly plunges into the parking lot.
Cascading like a giant waterfall over a series of cliffs and hip deep moguls, it is not for mere mortals. It is so steep that it plummets 1,800 vertical feet in less than a mile. Possessing all the glamour of a white mantled elevator shaft, it is North America’s third steepest run.
Taos sends blood pressures soaring because more than half its trails are expert.
For a tuneup, there are thrillers named Snakedance, Inferno, Lorelei, Valkyries, Reforma and Blitz.
The ultimate experience occurs each February and March. That’s when alpine guides lead skiers high above the lifts into a 12,500 foot, north facing bowl called Kachina. The chutes here are for skiers with paid up accident insurance.
Due north of Taos is a Colorado blockbuster called Telluride. Hidden away in the San Juan Range of the rambunctious Rockies, Telluride is a mountain of mammoth dimensions 24 miles of trails, a 3,105 foot vertical drop and an abundance of steep, moguled and demanding expert runs.
Two of the continent’s longest and most challenging bump runs are The Plunge and Spiral Stairs. At one point, Spiral Stairs has a continuous face with a 2,400 foot vertical fall. Unrelenting, both trails lead right into the old mining town.
Telluride cuts the bumps on The Plunge and Spiral Stairs only four times each season. In between, the moguls get so deep they could hide a Volkswagen bus. Other exceptional black diamond trails are Zulu Queen, Apex Glade and Allais Alley.
While Telluride’s steeps are longer, Vail offers hotdog skiers a superb Rocky Mountain high.
Indeed, Vail mesmerizes the expert with a staggering number of choices bump runs, steep trails and deep powder. After testing your skill on any of the expert terrain, you’ll need the subsequent quad chairlift ride to relax your leg muscles and to count your blessings.
For bumps, the superstar is Prima. Not far behind are Pronto, Log Shoot, Highline, Blue Ox and Roger’s Run. Super steep are Tourist Trap and South Rim Run. Vail’s powder havens are Sundown Bowl and Sun Up Bowl, with Yonder excelling as Vail’s toughest deep powder trail.
Snowbird, 30 miles from Salt Lake City, is the Tomorrowland of skiing. Everything is oversized, futuristic and sleek.
The mountain is awesome.
As you walk out of your high rise condo in Little Cottonwood Canyon, the slopes tower 3,100 perpendicular feet above your bulging eyeballs; it’s like standing at the base of a skyscraper that’s nearly three times taller than New York City’s 110 story World Trade Center.
Snowbird’s supersized 125 passenger cable car is the gateway to a memorable run named Regulator Johnson. Some skiers get nosebleeds just looking at it. And when the powder is dry, deep and soft, the kamikaze skiers head for the half dozen chutes that drop off the ridges to the cable car’s right at 11,100 feet.
Your legs must be resilient to survive the constant jarring on Blackjack, lower Silver Fox and lower Primrose, the prime bump runs.
However, mention the word ”steep” and chances are that every ski aficionado in the 50 states will think of Jackson Hole.
Located off the beaten track in Wyoming’s northwestern corner, Jackson Hole is a giant. At 4,136 feet, it has the greatest vertical drop in the United States. Moreover, the massive mountain excels in runs that are chin busters, gut suckers and world beaters.
Its most terrifying trail is Corbett’s Couloir. You have to jump off a cornice to reach the run. Depending on the snowpack, the jump can be a few feet onto a 40 degree pitch. Or 15 feet onto a 50 degree slope. One mistake and it’s lights out.
Jackson attracts expert skiers because it abounds in mammoth powder playgrounds like Rendezvous Bowl and long, steep descents like Gros Ventre and North Hoback. Surprisingly, moguls are strictly in the minority at Jackson Hole.
North Lake Tahoe’s Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, is the most consistently steep resort in California’s High Sierra.
Some ex Olympic racers rate Squaw as America’s meanest mountain.
Any runs down the slopes of KT 22 appear to defy gravity. But if you’re seeking real life nightmares, try High Sun Bowl, 75 Chute, North Bowl, National Chute and West Face.