From the Super C to Corbet's Couloir, these are as good as it gets
So you call yourself a skier or snowboarder, eh? Then add these classic lines to your bucket list. From legendary inbounds steeps (see: Corbet’s Couloir) to iconic backcountry peaks (here’s looking at you, Mount Superior) to European benchmarks (like the Vallée Blanche), these must-ride lines around the world are tough but totally doable.
Pyramid Peak, Valdez, Alaska
Book a trip with Valdez Heli-Ski Guides, and if conditions align perfectly, there’s a chance you can ski off 3,875-foot Pyramid Peak, a behemoth with ski-movie-worthy spines located deep in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains. It’s a proving ground for many a pro skier and rider—snowboarder Travis Rice has called Pyramid “a classic Valdez face.”
Super C Couloir, Portillo, Chile
From the top of the Roca Jack five-person Poma lift at Portillo, a plush ski resort in the Chilean Andes, you’ll bootpack straight uphill for several hours to the saddle of Cerro Ojos de Agua, where you’ll score killer views of Aconcagua, the highest point in the Western Hemisphere. The payoff is a nearly 5,000-vertical-foot descent through a gorgeous narrow chute. “The Super C is one of the coolest lines I’ve skied anywhere,” says pro skier Ingrid Backstrom. Sign up for Chris Davenport’s Ski with the Superstars camp or Kim Reichhelm’s Adventures, both held in August, for a chance to be guided into the Super C.
Mount Superior, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Mount Superior may be one of the most popular backcountry peaks in Utah’s Wasatch Range, and it’s busy for a reason. This iconic mountain offers reliably good snow and a steep, sustained pitch. Start early in the morning and follow the skin track from Little Cottonwood Canyon to Superior’s 11,040-foot summit. The South Face is the classic way down, giving you almost 3,000 vertical feet of powder back to the main road. New to the backcountry? Hire a guide—like Utah Mountain Adventures—or hop a lift from Powderbird, a heli-ski operation based out of Snowbird.
Vallée Blanche, Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix, France
You could ride the Aiguille du Midi cable car just for the views—from the 12,604-foot summit, you’ll be treated to up-front panoramas of Mont Blanc and the surrounding French, Italian, and Swiss Alps. But you might as well ski down from the top while you’re there. From the peak, the bravest of Chamonix’s steep-skiers head into the renowned North Face. For a tamer and still magical way down, hire a guide (like those at Chamonix Experience) to ski the glaciated Vallée Blanche, a 12-mile roller coaster of a run that includes a stop for hot lunch at a midway hut and a train ride back into downtown Chamonix.
Tuckerman Ravine, Mount Washington, New Hampshire
Hiking and skiing Tuckerman Ravine is a must-do pilgrimage for East Coast shredders. Throngs of people make the trek come springtime, when corn snow, sunshine, and keg parties on Lunch Rocks make for a welcoming vibe. The skin in is just under three miles on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to reach this wide-open bowl, a glaciated cirque with ample chutes off the southeast face of 6,288-foot Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern United States.
Highland Bowl, Aspen Highlands, Colorado
For high-quality inbounds terrain in North America, you can’t beat the steep, quad-crushing lines in Aspen’s famed Highland Bowl. You’ll ride a couple chairlifts at Aspen Highlands before embarking on a 45-minute bootpack to the bowl’s pinnacle, which offers Instagram-worthy views of the Maroon Bells. Take a deep breath: you’re at 12,392 feet up here. Hit the north-facing G-Zones for untracked powder on your way down.
Terminal Cancer, Ruby Mountains, Nevada
Drive Interstate 80 across Nevada and you can’t help but notice the Ruby Mountains, a spiky 80-mile-long range that shoots straight up from the desert sagebrush. Terminal Cancer is the range’s most legendary couloir—it drops some 2,000 vertical feet and doesn’t stretch wider than a ski-length across. You’ll exit I-80 in the town of Elko and approach the chute via skin track or snowmobile before setting uphill on an elevator-shaft bootpack. “Part of the allure is that you’re in the middle of nowhere, and here’s this perfect, straight up-and-down couloir,” says pro skier Elyse Saugstad. “It feels off the beaten path even though it’s right under your nose.”
Mont Fort, Verbier, Switzerland
There’s an array of routes down from the Mont Fort summit at Verbier, including more intermediate-friendly piste. But the truly challenging terrain lies off the peak’s backside, a crevasse-filled backcountry zone that isn’t controlled for avalanches and is best ridden with a guide. (We like Jack and Susanna, the Switzerland-based American guides and founders of Epic Europe.) Ride the Mont Font tram to the peak’s 11,000-foot summit, where you’ll climb a rickety staircase before clicking into your skis for an unforgettable descent down cliff-scattered steeps and across frozen lakes.
Big Couloir, Big Sky, Montana
There’s essentially no easy way down from the top of Big Sky’s 11,166-foot Lone Peak, accessed via cozy 15-person tram. One of the peak’s most classic lines is the Big Couloir, a 50-degree shaft that drops more than 1,000 vertical feet directly under the tramline. To ski it, you’ll need a partner and avalanche safety gear (beacon, shovel, and probe). You also have to sign in at the ski patrol shack at the top of the peak (you’ll get a time slot for when it’s your turn to go).
Corbet’s Couloir, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
No inbounds line in America is more fabled than Corbet’s Couloir. Getting into the chute is the tricky part: the entrance requires a mandatory air into a hard-banking, nail-it-or-else left turn. But once you’re in, it’s a straightforward shot of 40-degree steeps. A checklist item for any expert skier, the chute sits in clear view of the Jackson Hole tram, and there’s often a slew of tourists rubbernecking from the top, so whether you crush it or crash, you’ll be doing it for an audience.
Middle Basin Chutes, Craigieburn, New Zealand
New Zealand’s club fields—old-fashioned, club-owned ski areas with a no-frills, hardy vibe—are a scene every skier and rider should experience. Craigieburn, in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, has some of the rowdiest terrain. The area’s Middle Basin Chutes have a line called 210—pronounced “Two Ten”—named for the chute’s width, in centimeters, at its narrowest point. It’s a classic line that starts out wide but rapidly shrinks to pencil thin. Back in the day, when skis were longer than 210 centimeters, you couldn’t jump-turn in, so you’d have to straight-line it.