9 Runs to Ski or Board Before You Die — According to SnowBrains Readers

Gregg Frantz | | BrainsBrains
Mammoth Mountain. Image: SnowBrains

There are so many great mountains to check out around the world that it can be sometimes difficult to figure out which ones to go to. The United States has a wide variety of mountains to choose from, Canada has some big-time mountains, and let’s not forget about the Alps in Europe, either. Where do you begin?

An even harder question would be: if you could only ski one run in the world before you died, which would it be? It sounds like a simple question to answer at first, however, it becomes more complex once you consider all the parameters that could dictate your final answer. The snow, the terrain, the difficulty, the atmosphere, etc.  We asked this question to our readers in a poll on Facebook and got some pretty great answers and some funny ones as well.

Here are the top 9 runs to ski or board before you die according to SnowBrain readers: 

#9 Saudan’s Couloir: Whistler-Blackcomb, BC

This run is host of the Ski Race Extreme event which brings out champions of ski and snowboard racing who are not afraid to hit over 2,500 vertical feet of what might possibly be considered the steepest ski race in the world. The Ski Race Extreme’s 20th edition will happen next April 2024 and is open to Professional and Amateur racers alike.

#8 Rambo: Crested Butte, CO

Rambo is considered one the steepest lift-serviced-cut trails in North America boasting a 55-degree pitch where you can see the bottom of the run before you can actually see the full run. Even though it is considered to be a “tree-cut” trail, the resort has decided that tree clearing is not a priority on this expert run. Therefore, skiers and riders should be aware this is a no-fall run due to all the shrubs, rocks, and stumps that are scattered throughout the entire run.

#7 Back Bowls: Vail, CO

The legendary seven Back Bowls of Vail span six miles and offer 3,017 acres which are filled with some of the greatest powder in the United States. These Bowls are geared towards expert skiers who are looking for the ultimate playground of ungroomed terrain.

#6 Big Couloir: Big Sky, MT

This is Big Sky’s signature couloir which features a 40-50 degree pitch, over 1,000 feet of vertical and is considered one of the most difficult in-bounds trails in the United States. Note: If you are planning to hit this run, you will need a friend, an avalanche beacon, a shovel, and a probe. If you do not have a friend to accompany you, you can hire a tram guide to join you. You must also sign out with Ski Patrol once you have completed your run as well.

#5 The Highland Bowl: Aspen, CO

The Highland Bowl’s top elevation is 12,392 feet above sea level and offers 270 acres of some of the best powder the Central Rockies has to offer. Preparation is the key to success for skiers and riders who must climb the 782 vertical feet to reach the peak. All the runs at the Bowl are marked as double-black diamond or expert with pitches ranging from 38 to 48 degrees.

#4 The Streif: Kitzbuhel, Austria

The Streif is where the Audi FIS World Cup events happen every winter and is considered the most dangerous Downhill Race in the world. The Streif is in your face right from the start and does not allow a racer the time to settle in and features a vertical drop of 2,822 feet, a maximum grade of 85%, and is 10,866 feet long.

#3 Corbet’s Couloir: Jackson Hole, WY

This run is named after Barry Corbet, a Jackson Hole ski instructor and a mountaineer who famously said, “Someday someone will ski that.” The legendary couloir is best known for skiers or riders having to drop off a cliff and free fall for 10 to 20 feet before landing on a steep-narrow slope to enter the couloir. Each year Jackson Hole hosts the King and Queens of Corbet’s event which draws some of the best professional and big mountain skiers and riders from around the world.

#2 The Vallée Blanche: Chamonix , France

The Vallée Blanche is considered the most famous off-piste run in the world consisting of crevasses, avalanche dangers, ungroomed terrain, and high altitude challenges. The Vallée Blanche features a top elevation of 12,392 feet with a vertical drop of 8,947 feet and an overall length of 59,055 feet. This is a true expert run for skiers and riders who are comfortable with couloir skiing.

#1 Cornice Bowl: Mammoth Mountain, CA

This is one of the most famous runs at Mammoth Mountain and it is known for its high winds, great views, and narrow chutes. The Cornice Bowl features some of the fastest lines, best powder, and scenery you will find anywhere in the United States. Although it is groomed daily, it has been known to get a little icy and bumped up by the end of the day.

Honorable Mention: Schoolmarm: Keystone, Colorado

Schoolmarm is a famous run at Keystone for being its longest green trail at 3.5 miles long and consists of some nice drops that transition into flatter sections. This is a great run to start the day out for beginners because of how wide it is and is perfect for someone who wants to take a nice-lazy run down the mountain.

These runs are bucket list-worthy for any serious skier or rider and it would be hard not to dream of hitting any one of them before you die. It’s difficult to argue with the choices our readers selected when choosing their “last run” before they die. If you feel some runs got left out that did not make the list, please give us your answer in the comments below!

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