The adrenaline surges as your tips go over the top, with the rush of speed on the descent and the satisfying whoosh of blade through snow—for a skier, the slope experience electrifies every sense. But for some intrepid winter warriors, black diamonds are just the beginning.
These four resorts let you take your runs to the extreme.
Known for its picturesque five peaks with views of the Continental Divide and the surrounding Rocky Mountains, Breckenridge is an adrenaline junkie’s playground, with above-tree-line terrain spanning 11 bowls. Part of Vail Resorts, Breckenridge offers a $929 Epic Pass that gives unlimited access to 19 mountain resorts and limited access to international spots.
The resort has a number of freestyle areas with jumps, ramps, half pipes, and quarter pipes to get hearts racing. Ride the Imperial Express lift, which at 12,840 feet is the highest in North America, to the top of Peak 8.
There, you can drop off into Imperial Bowl and hike to the Lake Chutes, home to steep and rocky terrain with runs like Nine Lives, arguably one of the steepest in-bounds pitches in Colorado. Prepare to be faced with a cornice drop, mandatory air, and super-narrow turns. The 2018-19 season goes from November 2018 through April 2019.
JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING
Surrounded by Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is as scenic as it is serious.
Thrill-seeking here is all about Corbet’s Couloir, one of the most infamous runs in the world. Accessed via the Aerial Tram, one of the longest continuous trams in North America, the 45-degree slope is not for the faint of heart. The steep, narrow passage is flanked by rock walls and has a nearly 30-foot gravity-defying drop.Off the Sublet lift on the upper mountain, you'll find The Hobacks, an area with 2,000 vertical feet of fall-line skiing with ungroomed runs, trees, and rocks to contend with; and the Alta Chutes— three shorter, more technical, yet noless- steep runs with plenty of obstacles to navigate around. The 2018-19 season goes from Nov. 24, 2018 to April 17, 2019.
WHISTLER BLACKCOMB, CANADA
Nestled in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, 90 minutes from Vancouver, Whistler Blackcomb is an idyllic resort with lakes, snowy peaks, and large swaths of green.
Whistler, which hosted the ski events for the 2010 Olympics, is known for its steep, off-piste experiences, over 200 marked runs, 16 alpine bowls, and three glaciers spread over 8,171 acres.
For the extreme skier, the Saudan Couloir, dubbed “2,500 square feet of burning hell” thanks to a 2,500-foot continuous vertical drop, runs from the top of 7th Heaven on Blackcomb to the bottom of Jersey Cream.
For the ultimate experience, take to the skies with Whistler Heli-Skiing. With exclusive rights to 432,000 acres of big- mountain terrain, Whistler Heli-Skiing offers packages for everyone from strong intermediates to experts. The season typically runs from November to May, with glacier skiing open mid-June through the end of July.
Thanks to an annual average snowfall of more than 500 inches, snowbird has the longest ski season of any resort in Utah. Famed for its “steep and deep” terrain, the resort sits in a staggering valley of rock walls and contains steep bowls, chutes, tree glades, and long groomed trails amid its 2,500 skiable acres.
Accessed via the Aerial Tram, Mach Schnell is a steep pitch—descending 1,500 vertical feet—that blends tree runs with powder pastures.
From the top of the Aerial Tram, you can hike to The High Baldy Traverse, the go-to spot on a powder day.
This in-bounds area is equivalent to the kind of terrain accessed mainly by helicopter-skiing operations and will keep legs burning and heart pumping.
The season is typically from Thanksgiving week through Memorial Day.