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Not a Poll, but an Opinion...

post #1 of 37
Steepest is easy - since it isn't an opinion, its measurable. The steepest mountain overall in the U.S. is Taos, NM.

Bear Mountain, CA scares me . . . its the closest place to LA and apparently completely dominated by LA Snowboarders (how many are armed do you think?)
post #2 of 37
(how many are armed do you think?)

All knuckledraggers bear arms
post #3 of 37
if they have a snowboard, they're armed. bear is runner-up, anyway, to neighboring snow summit. if you look real close and keep your head on a swivel, you WILL spot a skier here and there.
post #4 of 37
I lived in CO for 3 years and skied every area in the state + Taos and never found an inbounds, named run I wouldn't ski.

It wasn't until I moved to CA and skied Kirkwood for the first time that I stood at the top of a named run, inbounds, which required no hiking or climbing and said "nope." It's happened again at Squaw, Sugarbowl, and Whistler.

I'm still amazed that some of the chutes at Kirkwood and Sugarbowl are open and not only accessible, but even possible to stumble into by accident. Scary!
post #5 of 37
Thread Starter 

Not a Poll, but an Opinion...

I have a question,

Which resort is the steepest in the US? What resort scares you? Where do you find yourself intimidated?

This question could be taken very many directions. Which resort is the steepest overall? Which trail/terrain the steepest in the US?

Being as I'm starting this post I'd guess I oughta put out some of my ideas.

My five most radical resorts in the US would be:

1. Big Sky

2. Jackson Hole

3. Squaw Valley

4. Taos

5. Snowbird

Even though I've never skied it I'd have to rate the "Big Couloir" at Big Sky as the toughest in-bounds chute in the US. I watched a couple guys ski this chute while riding up the tram. I was impressed when one of them stopped and put his hand back on the slope while standing. I'd also have to put the terrain off the tram at Big Sky as the most extreme inbounds I've seen.

I'd be interested in hearing what you folks think...


[ April 18, 2002, 12:39 AM: Message edited by: BobMc ]
post #6 of 37
I think I'll agree with you! I was a supervisor at Kirkwood for 5 seasons, and it does have some ball busting terrain-. Ever done "west shore chute", off ch4? Have a local take you out there... But "Once is enough"(done it 3 times in 5 seasons, each time swearing I'd never do it again!), the" HeartChute", some of these definitely causes you to re-evaluate your sanity... Even Glen and Scot thought long and hard about some of these...(I think Glen broke his leg in the "Heart Chute"...)

Telluride is long and steep, gunbarrel at Heavenly, is L+S, Taos certainly has variety of narrows+Stp, Jacksons got some thrills, Never done Big Sky, but hear it's coming on...

post #7 of 37
Kevin and Vail snopro,
I would tell you to search for trails but the search function is not working

For inbound steeps, these named runs come to mind

Telluride, Spiral Staircase.
Heavenly Mott Canyon (I think steeper than GunBarrel.
Sugarbowl, Strawberry fields, the 58
Alta, Alf's High Traverse, Baldy chutes, Katherines area, Glory Hole and Devils castle
Blackcomb, Outer limits, Spanky's ladder and the bowls behind it.
There were some very nice steeps and deeps in the trees and off the upper chairs at The Canyons too.
post #8 of 37
Just got back from Kirkwood, Squaw, Alpine and Rose (I was supposed to be at convention, but the back bowl lift's main bearing fried, don't tell anybody I blew it off), grew up in Europe and Whistler and have skied 100+ days at Taos. As a % Todd is right. Squaw and Kirkwood are next.
Scariest, you are both wrong...Mt. High is the closest drive from LA, and this season averaged over 3200 snowboarders and 800 skiers per day...all on less than 200 open acres on 35 inches of natural...be afraid....very afraid!
post #9 of 37
Clearly - symantecs change everything in conversations like this. The steepest ski area, is Taos. That means the total average gradient of the mountain. This obviously does not mean that there are not runs on other mountains that are as steep or even steeper than Tao's steepest however.

For example Wolf Creek's Montezuma bowl, Peak Chutes and Knife Ridge areas are as steep as anything I've found in-bounds elsewhere in the U.S. But as a whole the mountain is still fairly average by Colorado standards.
post #10 of 37
Nitemare, @ Baldy

36 degrees, 1000'.

(not comparing, just an excuse to post a pic...)

steepest thing i've seen is BLOWHOLE(?), at blackcomb, as you move along to enter the GLACIER. i looked down into it and felt a little ill. "keep movin'."

[ April 18, 2002, 01:35 PM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #11 of 37
Even though I ruled it out because you have to hike to it, the Palisades area of Squaw is definately some of the steepest marked terrain I've skied as well. On my first trip to Squaw, I was riding up Siberia (which passes right in front of the famous Palisades chutes) and scouted out the one I wanted to ski. I picked the widest one because it also had what looked to be only about a 5 foot drop to enter it. I started counting chutes from the chair so I would know which one to ski when I got above them. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4. That's it, fourth chute. I need to find the fourth chute (I think it's called America Chute).

I got off the chair, kissed my wife, shouldered my skis, and started the hike up. The plan was that she and my brother in law would ski under the chute to watch. He had a video camera and wanted to film it. I hiked up to the flat section above the chutes and, winded, stepped back into my skis. Skating to the edge, I started counting the entrances. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4. There it is. I got to the edge and looked over and my heart leapt into my throat and I got a bit nauseous. It looked like a 12 foot vertical drop before landing on a narrow, 75 degree pitch, surrounded by jagged granite walls. OOPS! That certainly isn't the right chute; let me count again. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4. Shit! Maybe I miss counted from the bottom. I checked Chute #3: Worse. I checked Chute #5: MUCH worse. I think I'm in trouble.

I took some deep breaths and went to the edge again. The nausea came back but I forced myself to stay and plan my descent. I decided to stand sideways on the lip; hop up and out; and free fall the 12' sideways so that my skis were already across the slope before I hit. After getting control, I could then set my downhill edge hard and make an aggressive hop-turn to avoid the rock wall in front of me. I stepped back again and visualized the sequence. My concentration was interrupted by a calm voice behind me.

"You gonna go, dude?"

I turned around and there was a snowboarder shimmying his way to the edge. "after you," I said meekly.

"Thanks," he said, as he got set up for the drop, snowboard pointing straight down the chute. "Can ya give me a push?" I agreed and gave him enough of a push to allow him to clear is tail and watched him drop in. He hit hard and tried to jam the board sideways unsuccessfully. His tumbling fall was long and terrible as I knew his view of Squaw at the time was white-blue-white-blue-white-blue. Now I was really scared. I peered over the edge again to see my wife and Brother in Law still trying to traverse under the chute, a long way from where they could see me. I had a while to wait.

The longer I stood there, the more nervous I got. Finally, with about a minute before my wife was in view, I realized that if I didn't go now, I'd lose my nerve. I skated a half step and drew my feet up under me as I cleared the lip.

I don't remember much of the free-fall. I either had my eyes closed or was concentrating on the landing. I hit with my right leg about 2 feet below my left and my edge immediately gave way. Fortunately, I was in a good upright position so instead of crashing, I rode the slide on my hip in the same position I would be in if I were on both feet. I knew the slope was nowhere near 75 degrees but it still felt unbelievably steep. My downhill edge caught and popped me back up on my feet. I made an aggressive right-hand pole plant and hop-turned for all I was worth. It worked and I was now back under control and riding my left ski across the face of the chute. After one more hop turn, I was convinced I wasn't going to die and finally let myself enjoy the great snow and made bigger turns all the way out of the chute. I skied up to my wife and brother-in-law who had seen most of the run but didn't get anything but the end on film.

"How was it??" They asked.

"Scary." was my only response.
post #12 of 37
nice story. thanks.

Couloir of Woes...

[ April 18, 2002, 02:28 PM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #13 of 37
OK, after reading the link, maybe my Squaw experience wasn't so bad after all [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #14 of 37
ryan, the Blowhole is really fun if it is not too icy.
I did bail on Corbett's because the drop in was fairly long that year.


[ April 19, 2002, 09:21 AM: Message edited by: Lucky ]
post #15 of 37
the steepest piste I am aware of in europe the the Swiss wall out of Avoriaz which is a piste i.e. in bounds, I believe it's 42 degrees & drops about 800 metres.

Out of bounds i.e. off piste here anything goes. Places like Chamonix & Verbier have plenty of deaths each year. If you want to try a Chamonix chute, then as I've said elswhere: helmet, two ice tools, & climb in, then there's no nasty surprises.
post #16 of 37
There is actually plenty of off-piste in North America that is just as radical as in Europe, and up in Alaska its much more radical. However most of such terrain takes more work to get to since the mountains are much less developed (i.e. pristine) than they are over the pond.
post #17 of 37
How could you guys leave Aspen Highlands off of the list?

Either you haven't skied it since they've opened Highland Bowl or you haven't skied the stuff off of Logepeak chair, like the "Nose".
post #18 of 37
I would have to add Snowbird's neighbor, Alta, to that list. One ride up the Germania lift and staring in disbelief at the lines down the Baldy Chutes proved that to me. I got a good scare while doing a mini slide for life on Wildcat Face. Also, I don't know what was scarier for a first time Alta skier: the High Traverse or entering and standing on top of Alf's High Rustler.

I've never been to Crystal Mountain, WA but I've been told and have read that it has some of the best steep expert terrain in the country.

Maybe that should be a new post... Best Secrets for Steep/Expert Terrain. My picks... Sugar Bowl, CA and Snowbasin, UT
post #19 of 37
Secret Chute and Calvin & Hobbes chute at Blackcomb. Secret is short, but right next to a chair (forget which one, but it's even shown on the trail map). I had posted a picture of me standing still in it, and my arse was about 6" from the snow. I don't remember where I had posted the picture. It may be on the Epic server, because I can't find it on my ISP directory.
post #20 of 37
I remember the picture, is it in the "pictures" thread. I'll see if I can find it.

I skied secret chute this season. great fun.

It's off the back side of 7th Heaven.
Visable from Glacier chair but you have to take the Horstman T to get to it from the glacier side.

Steeper and longer yet there is take spankys ladder out to the end of the ridge and hang a left into the "bowl" there. Don't remember the name "something bowl" but That's where we watched some guy that decided to follow us in, do a 150-200 yard slide. Good thing it pitched out flater towards the bottom and was soft snow. otherwise he would have headed right over the cliff at the end of the bowl.

PS. I think it was called Saphire Bowl.

[ April 22, 2002, 09:20 AM: Message edited by: dchan ]
post #21 of 37
After visiting this past season I have to give a nod for Kicking Horse in Golden BC.
Place was steep all over. Not intimidating steep in most regards but for overall degree of pitch across the entire mountain it has to rank.
post #22 of 37
Even though here in Utah, Alta gets a lot of credit for the steeps, I always feel like I'm on steeper when next door at Snowbird. High Rustler is steep, especially if you start at the very top where its narrow, but I always feel that if I want to ski steeps, I'll start at Snowbird and look around. Some of the chutes are not very long, few hundred vert, but they are very steep, slide for life situations. I suck with knowing the names of runs, actually skied High Rustler at Alta, one of the most famous runs in all of skiing, and learned the name later in the day. So don't ask me the names of any of these places at the 'Bird. Ski with me, I'll show 'em to you!
post #23 of 37
I have been lucky enough to ski most of the places mentioned in this thread (haven't done Big Couloir or DOA at Blackcomb) and in addition I had the opportunity once to ski a week in the Chugach. I have little doubt that the average pitch (at least for the first 2000 ft of vertical) you get heli skiing in the Chugach far surpasses any of the resorts mentioned.

However, I don't think steepness or pitch is the primary issue. I think that skiing even a 55 degree slope can be pretty straight forward. What really counts is entry, crux (cruxes?), and exposure combined with pitch and width. For example, I skied Delirium Dive at Sunshine villag this year. It's a great run and very steep at top. However, there are at least 2 main entries where you can get in without jumping and no immediate exposure, and pretty much still hold an edge (the entry was scraped off when we were there). This makes it pretty straightforward to ski. Of course if you've got the tools there are numerous hairball entries with lots of exposure along the ridge.

I have jumped in about 15 feet in the Center Chute of the Squaw Palisades. That's about my limit but it just wasn't THAT difficult because I could enter near sideways onto soft snow and didn't have to pick up much fall line speed. On the other hand I've tried Corbet's a couple of times. Once with a lot of fresh powder (successfully) and once with a 15 foot or so entry (relatively unsuccessful) when it was scraped off. In the latter case most of the people in my group had to hip check and scrape speed to make that first left turn before running into the rock wall of the couloir. (Me I just double released upon landing this second time). Thus the crux, a narrow couloir neck requiring a quick left turn after a pretty big entry (varies with season and conditions), made my second experience in Corbets much more difficult than the first or in comparison to the Palisades chute.

I have skied many "normal" single and double black runs where there are numerous cruxes (formed by boulders, trees, etc.) that most people (often including myself) just avoid. However, they often pose more challenge than the runs listed in this thread.

I do not mean to in any way deny the thrill and fun of getting onto a very steep face and ripping turns (at least to the best of my ability) down some great terrain and snow conditions. However, I don't think it's very meaningful to rate my ability to ski the steeps based on this. I can readily find the right crux and exposure on much less steep terrain that will scare me (if not scare me off) to a much greater extent.

I don't mean to stymie the discussion only to encourage discussion of aspects that make some runs more difficult than others.
post #24 of 37
Just found my map from Blackcomb.

Glacier inset shows the bowl off of Spanky's ladder as Ruby Bowl..

post #25 of 37

There are 3 bowls off of Spanky's: Ruby, Garnet, and Sapphire. I call them the jewels although I don't know if anyone else uses that term. All three provide some great skiing. There's also a little chute at the bottom right of Ruby that's a great training ground for a straightline through a narrow crux.
post #26 of 37
Whakapapa, NZ, has some very steep, but admittedly short chutes that are guaranteed to give you the willies.

The Chute is only about 200-300 ft, but requires an entry off a small cornice, a hop turn mid-way over approx 6ft band of rock, and in lower snow years a 20-30ft air out the bottom. Don't know how steep, but very. On the right hand side is a 60-80ft drop to rock, and the left is a rock wall. It is often only around 6ft wide in the waist. The Chimney beside it is steep and very narrow, and pitches over as you go in. Need good jump turn technique in both. Combine with typical North Island hardpack makes for some hairy descents.

There are some very hairy descents off the front and back of The Pinnacles, usually the most daunting prospects are the entries, which are inevitably windblown ice and very narrow. You need crampons and axe to get to these, unless you are brave/insane.

There are numerous unamed chutes scattered around as a result of volcanic rock formation over the millenia.
post #27 of 37
Hey RockSkier, upping the ante are we? I think I'll just fold at this point.
post #28 of 37
Mammoth has some serious inbounds, lift served steeps. The "Top of the World" area is the first that comes to mind. Most people riding the gondola don't even realize that it is skiable, and usually open. The most obvious line there "Balls" (short for Balls to the Wall) is a beautiful steep chute, with a small cliff in the middle. Often, you can do a scary traverse left, across a very exposed ledge, and keep your skis on the ground. Otherwise we are talkin' mandatory air, say 40' most years, but I have only done it on big snow years when it was about a 10 footer. Warner's is a nice one; it starts off easy with a small cornice you can usually avoid. Once you are in the 40+ degree chute, you better get your hop turns right or you could end up facing the wrong way for the crux move in the 5 foot wide throat. Eat it here, and most years you are in for some serious injuries.I have yet to ski most of the other lines in the area. Some are just huge drops(the Cove, Diving Board), others have scary entrances with mandatory airs onto exposed lines (Junior's). This is where the finals of the Easter Sierra Freeskiing Classic are usually held. If that's not enough stay on the ridge past Paranoid 4, and hit Kiwi Flat (often called Star Chute in error). This line was first skied by PSIA prez John Armstrong (he is a Kiwi) who said "oh, its flat" Whatever, he did enter it on rappel. This is where the Gravity Games Big Mtn. comp was held. If you are a god hit the "French Face" right next to Phillip"s. This was I belive first skied by Guarlain Chichoriet during the Gravity Games. Don't forget to nail the front flip after the 50 footer. Of course, over on the other side of the ridge, the Head Chutes (called Beyond the Edge on the map) are full of scary options, as is all of Dragon's Back/Tail. You don't hear as much about Mammoth as say Squaw, but the terrain is here.
post #29 of 37
I forgot to mention it earlier but I'm surprised Crested Butte has not come up. I have a friend who lived there for a coiple of seasons and said that it has some of the steepest lift served terrain that he's been on. I don't know, I've never been but I'm thinking about it for next season. Can anyone who's been to CB compare it to those that are usualy listed as America's steepest?
post #30 of 37
Crested Butte's North Face is the home of the U.S. Extreme Skiing Championships for a reason. It is very steep, tight and technical terrain. Definately some of the most radical lift served terrain in the country. When I was competiting in that comp - we got to go ski the 'Banana Peel', the normally closed run from the tip of Mt. Crested Butte -- it was extremely, well . . . 'extreme'! Fun especially to do with the group we had (all the 'names' from the late 90's)

Again, "steepest" mountain gets into symantecs and measuring methadology. If you are looking at what mountain has the highest average gradient, its Taos. There are certainly runs as radical or more radical all over the place, but "steepest mountain" would be Taos.
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