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Steep and famous slopes -- exact angles wanted

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

For a project I'm working on, I want to find out the angles (in degrees) of a few of the steepest and/or most famous ski slopes (either off-piste or at a resort). Does anyone know of a good resource for that type of information? Alternately, if you have a favorite steep slope and know exactly how steep it is, shout it out!

Thanks! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

post #2 of 68
Try this to start. There are links to other sites from there at the end of the article. You could also try searching on Google. Let us know what you find. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #3 of 68
I think it is the latest Skiing Magazine that has resort reviews... In these it lists the steepest run at each resort ranked. Have a look - it's not an exhaustive list but a place to start.
post #4 of 68
Alpental is known for its steeps. Here are a few examples of inbounds runs:

Ave. Grade = 50%
Max Grade = 92%
Vertical Drop = 1,502'

Ave. Grade = 75%
Max. Grade = 135%
Vertical Drop = 781'

Ave. Grade = 62%
Max. Grade = 73%
Vertical Drop = 310'

Is this the type of information your looking for? If you want I can email you their list of all trails with specs. There is a private site that hasn't been updated in a year or more on the area, but it has some pretty good pictures of the backcountry runs and some history of the area.

Alpental has the steeps in WA.

[ October 17, 2003, 08:47 AM: Message edited by: MrHyak ]
post #5 of 68
I always find it interesting that often these kinds of numbers are given in percent, while my inclinometer is in degrees. I don't usually cary a calculator with me on the slopes.

For referance on how steep something is, my stairs in my house are 35 degrees. yep, I measured them.
post #6 of 68
I only post % because the documents I have for Alpental are written that way. If I knew the formula I'd calculate for both and I would have included the degrees as well.

Does someone have the conversion formula?
post #7 of 68
[ October 17, 2003, 03:31 PM: Message edited by: feal ]
post #8 of 68

It probably won't help much because most of the runs featured are not what you would call heavily traveled, but this book gives lots of stats on things in the Wasatch Range:


It's a great resource, is very humorous, and Andrew lists slope degrees for all of his chutes.

One thing you're going to run into is that measurements on most in-resort ski runs tend to be made at the steepest point. Most of the time, that may be a length of only a few turns or less. Also, actual steepness often is *far* less impressive than most people tend to think.

I've used my inclinometer on a few spots around Jackson Hole, Snowbird, and Alta and can give you my own results:

Great Scott/Snowbird: 42 degrees for about three turns at the top.

Nirvana Shoulder/Snowbird: 49 degrees for about eight turns (this is the steepest "sustained" skiing I've run into at a resort)

High Rustler/Alta: 44 degrees for about six turns at the top.

Greeley Bowl/Alta: Average of about 35 degrees.

Main Baldy Chute/Alta: Average of about 38 degrees. A little over 40 at the top.

Rendezvous Bowl/Jackson Hole: Average of about 35 degrees.

Corbet's Couloir/Jackson Hole: (Not counting the entrance which is essentially vertical) 42 degrees for about four turns at the upper end.

First Alta Chute/Jackson Hole: 42 degrees for about six turns in the middle.

North Hoback/Jackson Hole: Average of about 36 degrees (which it maintains for close to 2500 vertical feet)

Good luck in your quest.

post #9 of 68
grade = (rise/run)*100%

i.e. 100 foot drop in elevation per 100 lateral feet = 100% grade

I confused grade with degrees before and heard for it on the board.

For those with a calculator, set it to degrees, then:

degrees = tan^-1 (grade/100)

i.e. 45deg = tan^-1 (1)

Degrees is more useful unless you are a civil engineer and used to thinking in terms of grade.
post #10 of 68
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the quick replies! My memory of high school trigonometry is pretty fuzzy...anyone know how to calculate degrees from grade if my calculator doesn't have an inverse tangent function?

post #11 of 68
According to "How to Ski Mammoth" published in 1975, and long since out of print:

Cornice Bowl Max: 40 degrees Min: 30 (this was before it got blasted for winch-catting)

Scotty's Max: 40 Min: 35

Daves Max: 45 Min: 40

Climax: Max: 45 Min: 40

Wipeout 1 Max: 40 Min: 35

Wipeout 2 Max: 47 Min: 35

Dropout 1 Max: 40 Min: 35 (now called drop 2)

Dropout 2 Max: 44 Min: 35 (now called drop 3)

Note: the Wipes and drops were declawed back in the early 80's when Chair 23 went in

Paranoid 1,2&3 not 4 Max: 40 Min: 35

Phillipe's Max: 50 Min: 40

Huevos Grande Max: 52 Min: 45

Hangman's Max: 55 Min: 50

This book does not even mention stuff like "the Top of the World" or "Kiwi Flat aka Star Chute". Really, it all comes down to the snow. If you drop big of the lip on Dave's, it's a little different than skiing in around it. These numbers seem exaggerated, but Dana Couloir (Mt. Dana off Tioga Pass)is listed in most climbing guides at 40 dergees, and skis like a longer Dave's with a rollover entrance.
post #12 of 68

You are right.

I made way too many assumptions.

[ October 17, 2003, 12:27 PM: Message edited by: feal ]
post #13 of 68
Thread Starter 
I don't think so, feal. By that logic, a 200% grade would be 90 degrees (vertical), which is clearly wrong. 200% grade means two units up for each unit over.


[ October 17, 2003, 12:19 PM: Message edited by: joshs ]
post #14 of 68
Thread Starter 
I found the motherlode: http://www.skistats.com/slopes.asp. Good info, I just wish it listed maximum pitch as well (it looks like the listed pitch is average) and included resorts worldwide instead of just the US.

post #15 of 68
Here's a famous trail I've done many times - Mahogany Ridge. It starts out pretty flat, but it gets steep very quickly and becomes difficult to hang on I've completely lost all control a few times and taken some very serious tumbles.

Sometimes I could swear it looked flat, but usually it appears closer to 60 or even 90 degrees!! : Pretty wierd. It was a lot easier to do when I was younger, but now I usually try to compensate by using my experience and finesse in order to avoid looking completely incompetent.

Once I actually tried Mahoghany Ridge around mid-day, and I later found myself struggling just to get down a few green runs. So now I usually save it for the end of the day. If you've never tried it yourself, I suggest you check it out with a few experienced locals first. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #16 of 68
A few years ago I learned a nice low tech way to guesstimate it: just place one ski pole vertically in the ground and have the other ski pole perpendicular to it poking into the slope. The 90 degree angle formed on one side of the triangle will let you guess the angle. For example, if the tops of the two ski poles touch then you know you're on a 45 degree slope.
post #17 of 68
Originally posted by feal:
Incorrect Information!!
Are you saying "my" information is incorrect? It did not come from marketing, but from "Sno.engineering, INC" who put the information together for the USDA Forest Service.. I got the information from the Forest Service in 1998..

post #18 of 68
Speaking of steep runs, I can't resist re-posting this. It was written by Andrew McLean (author of The Chuting Gallery mentioned above) and was posted on the Telemark Tips forum about a year ago.

I still think it's the funniest thing I've ever seen about slope angles (perceived and actual). I've posted it here before but I just love it and it seems appropriate:


Steep-speak International Translations:

France: Subtract 5 degrees & 1/3 of the stated vertical. ie: 1000 meters of 50 degrees = 660m of 45 degrees.

Alaska Heliskiing - Subtract 20 degrees and cut the vertical in half. FIVE THOUSAND FUGGIN' FEET OF 60 DEGREES (Dude!) = 2,500' of 40 degrees.

Montana & Washington - accept at stated values.

California - Subtract 10 degrees, nip the vert by 1/4 and double the width of any stated couloir.

Oregon - there is no steep skiing in Oregon.

The East Coast - Overstated stats, but the conditions justify it. Accept at stated value.

Colorado - Whatever Lou said it was.

Utah - I'll take the 5th on that.

Film/Movies - cut stated angles and length in half.

Hope that helps.


Oh yeah - I forgot Wyoming. ADD 5 degrees and 200' to any stated value.
post #19 of 68
Sorry Mr Hyak,

I hastily put that on there while removing the incorrect information I had posted as a result of making some false conclusions. I had no intent that it mean anything more than the fact that what I had put up was incorrect. Sorry for the confusion, but it most certainly was caused by my own ignorant conclusion and response!

post #20 of 68
joshs, skistats does a good job. I just checked the Mt. Hood Meadows 4 Bowl (my calculation of slope angle) against skistats assessment of the same and we agree. 4 Bowl is about 45 to 50 degrees at the top for perhaps 300' then flattens out to a consistant 42 to 45 degrees for the remainder.

post #21 of 68
Bob Peters

I don't remember any runs in Snowbird called Great Scott
or Nirvana shoulder - Nor can i see them on the trail map.

are you sure you are talking about Snowbird, Utah. Can you tell me what lifts it is closest to.
post #22 of 68
Altaskier's stairs, at 36 degrees, or about 75%, are way steeper than most of the black diamond slopes I can think of.
post #23 of 68
Hey Maddog, how about Heather Canyon? When I was out there with jyarddog it looked like the top of Rendevous at Jackson. I didn't get to ski it, I forgot my ACL brace.(DUMB : )
While we're at it how about some more stats for Jackson from Bob Peters? What's the spec on S&S Coulier? How about Tower 3? Toilet Bowl? Expert Chutes?
The top of Corbett's counts in the overall average.

[ October 17, 2003, 05:00 PM: Message edited by: SLATZ ]
post #24 of 68
Josh S, I'm confused. Using the chart on that link, how would I find the steepness, in degree, for, say, Spaulding bowl at Copper, or Corbet's at Jackson?
post #25 of 68
Yeah, yeah! More Jackson Hole stats! I'm addicted to that place. Anyone going there Feb. 10-15?
post #26 of 68
Pretty impressive place, Mr. Hyak. Alpental would scare the bejesus out of me. I used to pound around out that way when I was living in Washington. It's Amazing.
post #27 of 68
I always thought that 100% grade = 45 degrees. Some info on the olympic downhill runs in Utah stated that.
post #28 of 68

100% = 45 degrees was my understanding as well.


Great Scott is one of the most famous runs at Snowbird (Utah). You get off the tram, head north almost under the tram, pass the right turn leading to Chip's, pass the right gate leading to Silver Fox, turn left into the top of Regulator Johnson and then turn immediately right onto the ridge that leads into the Upper Cirque. Great Scott is the first major hole in the ridgeline that you come to. It drops off the ridge into the very upper Cirque. Trust me on this one.

For those of you looking for more stats on Jackson:

S&S is vertical (that would be 90 degrees for the mathmatically-impaired) for the first 18 to 30 feet. The drop depends on snow depth and how much you try to "cheat" by aiming left onto the adjoining cliff wall.

Tower 3 is steep (40 degrees-plus) for the first few turns up by the chairlift and then settles into about 40 down into Toilet Bowl.

Toilet Bowl is all over the map. The center and skier's right portions are probably high thirties, while there are several areas on skier's left that drop over rock ledges. Skier's left is definitely the "sportier" route down Toilet Bowl.

Expert Chutes are, for the most part, high thirties. There are portions at the rock band that crank up a bit, but the main shots between the rock outcroppings are high thirties.

That brings up an interesting point. There are very few sections of "skiable" runs at Jackson Hole that exceed about 42 degrees, and then only for very short distances. The angle of repose is just south of forty degrees for the scree slopes that make up much of the more expert terrain at Jackson. Thus, if you're not skiing a slab or boulder outcropping, you aren't going to be much steeper than low 40's.

The steepest sections I've measured at Jackson (other than obvious cliff areas) are Hanging Snowfield (between S&S Couloir and Tensleep Bowl), parts of Alta Zero (which is almost always closed), a small extension of the Expert Chutes near Lonnie's Chute, and a cool little shoulder of Dick's Ditch just above the base of the Thunder Chair. There are other little pieces like the cliff band into Bivouac and parts of the Cuervo Chutes that are also steep, but *none* of them (to my knowledge, anyway) even approach 50 degrees.

That may be somewhat disappointing to some first-time visitors here, but I'm fairly certain that a lot of the mountain *feels* pretty steep when you're standing at the top of various parts of it.


For anyone planning visits this winter (U. P. Racer...) I'd be happy to arrange a little tour.
post #29 of 68

I neglected to mention Nirvana Shoulder. That's kind of a private name for an area betweeen the Gad Chutes (which are directly above you rider's left as you get off the Gadzoom detachable quad) and the Wilbere Bowl area (back more to the north).

You get to it by following the Cirque Traverse (lovingly known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail, just like the traverse to High Rustler at Alta) to where it comes out at the middle Cirque. You then follow the top Cirque ridge for about another two hundred yards and turn left down the fall line. You make your way down through wind drifts and scattered pines, angling skier's left kind of toward the Mid-Gad Restaurant. If you do it right (it's easy to get lost in the scattered glade), you end up just skier's right of a main ridgeline that sort of forms the north boundary of the Gad Chutes.

What we call Nirvana Shoulder drops north from there. It's open (and quite steep) for a few turns and then funnels into two narrow little cuts through the trees. Below that, it opens out again and eventually comes out at the cat track on the west edge of Big Emma.

If you can find it from those directions, I guarantee you'll have a fun run.


post #30 of 68
Originally posted by Carvemeister:
Here's a famous trail I've done many times - Mahogany Ridge. ... Once I actually tried Mahoghany Ridge around mid-day ...
Ridgemeister, from your location, I presume you are talking about MR at K-mart, not the one at Steamboat. Since I know more about the one at K-mart, let me give you a few of my own pointers.

First, it sounds like you have found out the hard way that you should never, ever begin MR as early as mid-day. The conditions just aren't right. If you start doing laps on MR around then, at some point, you will probably realize you made an error and find yourself making an unwanted run over to the Toilet Bowl area, and talk about ungroomed, you are going to see a lot of ungroomed skiers come out of there.

Second, there are a number of cougars who stalk that area of the mountain every day, starting about then. They are not as rare as you think. Go down it later in the day, and never alone. Trust me, there is safety in numbers. Hollerin' and whoopin' to your buds also helps keep them away.

Finally, as you know, MR can be a very long run. Eat something before you attempt it, and keep nibbling on food if you yo-yo it repeatedly. Definitely watch out for the bears when you exit it, especially after you make that sharp LHT at the bottom of the hill.

Tom / PM
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