Resort Picks: Steeps

Bring your A game to these fall-line meccas

Oct 21, 2008
Outside Magazine
Steeps Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley Headwall powder    Photo: Nathan Kendall/courtesy, Squaw Valley Ski Corporation

Want to get a better handle on steep skiing? Taos's ridge and west basin—which are pinstriped with 500-vertical-foot chutes, many with trees—dish up the type of bowling-lane-wide rodeo skiing that's great for improving your technical skills.

With easily accessed shots like the Big Couloir off Lone Peak, Montana's Big Sky has long held some of the steepest above-treeline skiing in North America. And Moonlight Basin, which runs lifts up the other side of Lone Peak, opened up next door in 2003. Now that you can ski them both on the same lift ticket, there's effectively twice as much expert terrain.,

The birthplace of America's extreme movement, Squaw Valley's cliff-strewn KT-22 and Palisades areas used to be the exclusive habitat of deranged locals and huck-for-money pros. But today's rockered powder skis (see page 24) make these slopes accessible to the rest of us.

Most cat-ski operations serve up uniformly low-angle powder skiing. Not Chatter Creek, whose lodge is a short heli-ride outside of Golden, British Columbia: It's run by a bunch of adventure guides who aren't afraid to bump up the pitch. From $1,395 for three days;

Because British Columbia's jagged Coast Range gets blanketed every winter in wet dumps, it has a more stable snowpack. Translation: Bella Coola Heli Sports can safely guide clients down steeper terrain than outfits in other ranges. From $7,230 per week; bellacoolaheli­