The Ski Channel’s Gnarly 99: Trails with Superpowers

Posted By: The Ski Channel on May 6, 2009 12:38 pm

Some of these puppies are famous, and some of them can make you famous. Here are 99 of the country’s (well, with one Canadian slinger) gnarliest and most wonderful runs which, if you ski ‘em, will either make you a hero or simply look like one. Heck, they’ll make you feel like one. Bring out the guns. Check them out here and then ski for yourself. 


1.     Birds Of Prey, Beaver Creek, CO – If you can make it down this iced up downhill course, you should call Mr. Miller for a beer.

2.     Corbet’s Couloir, Jackson Hole, WY – A funnel-like chute almost anyone can ski—after you get through the first 25 feet or so. Do-it-yourself ski porn.

3.     Champion, Deer Valley, UT – The 2002 Olympic moguls course is steep and the bumps are deep. It’s also home to the Visa International Freestyle World cup.

4.     Ruthie’s Run, Aspen, CO – Home of the Aspen Winternational Women’s Alpine World Cup. Think steep and icy rollers.

5.     K-22, Squaw Valley, CA – Created the likes of U.S. Ski Team racers and Warren Miller stars, Marco Sullivan and Travis Ganong.

6.     Jupiter Bowl, Park City, UT – So vast, it’s named after a planet.

7.     Outer Limits, Killington, VT – Schooled 1992 Olympic gold medalist bumper, Donna Weinbrecht

8.     The Plunge, Telluride, CO – Home of the first Junior National Freestyle moguls event, and true to its name, it’s steep the whole way down, and bumped to the nines.

9.     Great Scott, Snowbird, UT – Known as their ‘marquee’ run, 45-degrees steep, deep pow and lots of trees. It’s also famous for its Better Off Dead 80’s cameo.

10.  The Back Bowls, Vail, CO – 6000 Acres of snow. Need we say more?

11.  True Grit, Waterville Valley, NH – Steep up top, with half of it bumped out, and smooth at the bottom, so you can look like a hero. One of the original 70’s Freestyle runs.

12.  Grand Climax, Mammoth, CA – Everyone likes a happy ending.

13.  Narrow Gauge, Sugarloaf, ME – Where Bode learned to downhill.

14.  Dreamer, The Canyons Resort, UT – A dream on snowy powder days.

15.  World Cup T-Bar, Waterville Valley, NH – Alberto Tomba was here. Home to the original Alpine World Cup events, including the WC Finals in 1991. Full of fun rollers.

16.  Grizzly Downhill, Snowbasin, UT —  Home of the 2002 Olympic men’s downhill. Enough said.

17.  Devil’s Crotch, Breckenridge, CO – We sort of just like the name. But think steep and steep.

18.  Tuckerman’s Ravine, Mt. Washington, NH – One of the original backcountry runs, and one of the only on the east coast. Hike it in the spring and enjoy.

19.  Avalanche Chutes, Mammoth, CA –Cheat danger and hit the Avi 1, 2 or 3 for some of California’s finest.

20.  Lady Morgan, Deer Valley, UT – Big, bumped out bowls like this reestablish DV as a real, non frou-frou resort.

21.  Spiral Stairs, Telluride, CO – Steep and deep, the whole way down.

22.  Rendezvous Bowl, Jackson Hole, WY – When there’s powder, this run is nearly orgasmic.

23.  Aspen Glade, Steamboat, CO – Perfectly spaced trees for a do-it-yourself, powdery slalom.

24.  Christmas Tree Bowl, Steamboat, CO – Think ‘champagne powder’ as the locals claim, and lots of it.

25.  Thaynes, Park City, UT – Where the U.S. Mogul skiers often train. Slip off into the trees when there’s fresh pow.

26.  Lower Bobby’s, Waterville Valley, NH – Named after Bobby Kennedy (the family often skied at Waterville), and unfortunately not often open, due to lack of snow. But when it’s open, enjoy one of the steepest trails on the east coast.

27.  Mach Schnell, Snowbird, UT – Deep and fresh double diamond. Locals’ favorite.

28.  Another World, The Canyons Resort, Park City, UT – One of the longest running trails you can find. Not completely steep, but if you want to zone out  and carve up a corduroy groomer, do it here.

29.  Exhibition Plunge, Sun Valley, ID – A lot like its name. Steep and consistent. Good for race training.

30.  Palisades, Squaw Valley, CA – Ski ‘em if you dare. Known for the jump-into-‘em chutes, like the 20-foot launch onto Chimney.

31.  Highlands Bowl, Aspen Highlands, Aspen, CO—A 30-minute hike leads to 360 degree views and 1500 vertical feet all to yourself. An out-of-bounds experience that’s in bounds and controlled by the dedicated ski patrol.

32.  Prima Pronto, Vail, CO – A tough run if you’re looking for an aerobic workout. Known as the ‘endurance’ trail.

33.  Ripcord, Mt. Snow, VT—A North facing, double diamond. Extrememly steep, and often with nice snow due to its location on the mountain.

34.  Fire Trail, Sun Valley, ID – Think fast and turn quickly on a steep, tree-spotted pitch.

35.  Ballroom, or ‘Balls,’ Alta, UT – A great powdery expanse with an optional 40-foot cliff.

36.  Ridge, Heavenly Valley, CA – Long, steep corduroy. Enjoy!

37.  Oh No, Copper Mountain, CO – Oh, yes. A nice, long groomer, usually soft with fresh snow.

38.  Beartrap, Mt. Snow, VT—On the Sunbrook side, which gets well, sun. Good for bumps, as they soften in the afternoon and spring.

39.  Canis Lupus, The Canyons Resort, UT – A long, natural half-pipe that you can actually race on come spring.

40.   Devils’ Fiddle, Killington, VT – Right next to Outer Limits. The trails 1998 Olympic Gold Medalist Donna Weinbrecht trained on.

41.  Morning Glory, Crested Butte, CO – A great way to wake up. The double diamond bowl-like run leaves options, where you can stay on or off-piste (in the trees).

42.  Alta Zero, Jackson Hole, WY – Lots of technical stuff, if you’re into that sort of thing. Trees, rocks, bumps, cliff lines… And a 50-degree (or so) pitch.

43.  Avalanche Bowl/Zoom, Loveland, CO – Thought to be one of the steepest powder runs in CO. Site of several Teton Gravity Research films.

44.  Gunbarrel, Heavenly Valley, CA — Because Glen Plake said so. An original Hot Dog site.

45.  Utter Abandon, Waterville Valley, NH – A nice intermediate groomer. On this list because it’s where several of the U.S. Freestle Ski Teammer’s (including World Cup Champ Hannah Kearney) polished their turns off the bumps.

46.  Backscratcher, Suicide Six, VT – It’s not always open (too steep for snowmaking), but enjoy nasty steeps when you’re lucky enough to ski it.

47.  Look Ma, Vail, CO – Where Wayne Wong and Scotty Brooksbank busted their chops in “Hot Dog” style.

48.  Inverness, Sugarbush, VT – Where Daron Rahlves trained while at Green Mountain Valley School.

49.  White Heat, Sunday River – They used to have a poster of it, with a picture of steel balls that said, “When skiing White Heat you better bring the right equipment.”

50.  Starr, Stowe, VT – One of Vermont’s finest: Part of their famous, ‘Front Four.’

51.  Y Chute, Powder, Mountain, UT—A wide double diamond sprinkled with trees. Accessible only by cat, which is $12/ride, on top of your lift ticket.

52.   Test Pilot, Stratton, VT – Responsible for creating top boarders like Lindsey Jacobellis and Ross Powers. And oh, yeah, Jeff Burton.

53.  Colter’s Hell, Big Sky, Montana – Expert glade skiing on their famous Andesite pitch.

54.  Hurricane, Pat’s Peak, NH – Known to terrorize young ski racers.

55.  The Plunge, Mt. Snow, VT—One of the state’s steepest slopes. A double D through the trees.

56.  Shug’ R’ Bowl, Powder Mountain, UT— As sweet as it sounds. A single diamond bowl, uncrowded and unfettered, accessible only by cat.

57.  The Trials, Mt. Snow, VT—A long black diamond full of well-spaced glades.

58.  Powder Country, Powder Mountain, UT—A huge back-country-type lot of trails that take you all the way to the road.  You have to bus back up.

59.  Nosedive, Stowe, VT – Home of the Sugar Slalom, a famous fun spring ski race in New England. Afterwards, participants pour maple syrup on the slope, to harden it into candy. (Post-race treat.)

60.  Straight Shot, Powder Mountain, UT—A long, steep slinger under the Paradise lift. Drop off small cliffs into the fluffy stuff.

61.  Skylight, Cannon Mountain, NH— A short schuss just off the tram, Skylight is one of those trails that doesn’t get traffic. The result? Good snow and a great run all to yourself.

62.  Roberto’s, Snowmass, CO— A steep, narrow chute that has two big things going on: It’s the shortest hike from the top of the lift, and it’s only ten turns long, making it the ultimate hero run. For one fleeting moment, you feel like you can shred.

63.  The Chute, Mt. Baker, WA – A straight, steep shot. Locals call it, “Horrific.”

64.  Walsh’s, Aspen, CO—Always the first solid powder run of the year in Aspen. Skiing Walsh’s means the season has begun.

65.  Willy’s Run, Park City, UT – Rock-hard, icy groomer often open to racers only. Home of the former World Cup opener event.

66.  Waterfall, Wolf Creek, CO – Flows and falls away just as it sounds.

67.  Paradise, Mad River Glen, VT – Kind of the opposite of its name: Hard to find, narrow,  trees, steeps, rocks… The ultimate local’s challenge.

68.  Empire, Whiteface, NY – Allegedly the steepest slope in the east.

69.   Exibition, Sun Valley, ID – Another original “Hot Dog” site that helped launch the sport of freestyle.

70.   Burn Cliffs, Snowmass, CO — Site of their local annual free-ride contest. Rarely open, but it’s where all the pros throw down. If you have a ski patrol friend, ask for a “tour.”

71.  Mt. Glory, Teton Pass, WY – It’s not a ski area per se, but it may as well be. Locals who can’t afford the JHMR pass get their jones with a 40-minute hike to unlimited powder.

72.  Pinball, Crystal Mountain, WA — A narrow, 47-degree pitch that’s framed by rock walls to the left and right. If you fall, you’ll be a pinball. It’s former Freeskiing World Champ Laura Ogden’s favorite home-mountain run.

73.  The Dumps, Aspen, CO — A steep and deep ridge sprinkled with aspen trees. “The Dumps” refers to mining, though it can describe the amount of powder, too.

74.  Olympic Lookout, Kirkwood, CA – If you want Cali-style bumps. A long, challenging leg-buster.

75.  Blowhole, Blackcomb, BC – It’s Canadian, but classic. A double black diamond wind channel with a super steep pitch.

76.  The Promised Land, Alpine Meadows, CA – Lots of trees for a natural slalom.

77.   Fantasy Ridge, Solitude, UT – Arguably the scariest in-bounds hike in the    country. The bonus? You get sole access to steep chutes.

78.  Teocalli Bowl, Crested Butte, CO – Great for finding untracked pow.

79.   Challenger, Deer Valley, UT – Part of the Daly Chutes. When you run this, you’ll forget won’t think you’re at the cushiest resort in America.

80.  The Fingers, Snowbasin, UT – These chutes are uber steep and even more authentic—accessed by a Euro-style tram.

81.  Peace, Purgatory, CO – What we all want. Find untapped powder either on this trail or in the trees in between.

82.  High Rustler, Alta, UT – A classic run where the resort hosts their end of season  party.

83.  Peel, Crested Butte, CO – One of the longest chutes in the West.

84.  Vagabond, Steamboat, CO – Features a skiable forest.

85.   Banana, Crested Butte, CO – Almost shaped like its namesake, the chute offers a 40-plus degree pitch.

86.   Scott Chute, Alpine Meadows, CA – A straight shot down the mountain.

87.   Solitude Canyon, Diamond Peak, NV – Some of the most open skiing on the mountain.

88.   Sentinel Bowl, Kirkwood, CA – Long, steep groomer.

89.   Zachary, Kirkwood, CA – As suburban as its name. Find fresh corduroy daily.

90.   Heavenly Daze, Steamboat, CO – A long, sweet groomer that takes your mind away.

91.   Bull Run, Purgatory, CO – The toughest run on the mountain that surprises you after its initial mild beginning.

92.   The Chutes, Mt. Rose, NV – Up to 55 degrees of steep wildness. And it’s close to Reno, but with more wilderness.

93.   Stampede, Northstar at Tahoe, CA – A bull-ride of a bump run, but not too steep to throw you off.

94.   Tonini’s, Northstar, CA – A long, steep pitch.

95.   Peaked Mountain, Grand Targhee, WY – Not a run, per se, but an area accessible by snow cat. Powderhounds are huge fans.

96.   Prospector Glades, Angel Fire, NM – The resort just cut nine acres for tree skiing.

97.   Dark Wizard, Saddleback, ME – A tight, steep glade, as only Maine would offer. Ski this, and ski anything.

98.   Captain Hook, Brighton, UT – A steep pitch dotted with trees.

99.  Glacier Bowl, Alyeska, AK – Deep, untouched powder.



 photo: Alta