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Go Big or Go Home - The Best Steep & Deep Resorts in North America & Japan

Go Big or Go Home – The Best Steep & Deep Resorts in North America & Japan

Keen for a challenge on your next ski or snowboard holiday?

If you’re advanced or expert level, there’s a time for gentle cruising with beginner and intermediate family and friends. And then there’s a time to wave bye-bye as you venture up the mountain to put your skills to the test (with a dash of courage and possibly an equal shot of Schnapps).

Whether it’s hurtling down black runs, weaving through trees, riding mogul bumps or exploring the backcountry, there’s no reason it can’t be part of your next snow holiday experience.

So, here are six of our favourite resorts across the US, Canada and Japan that cater to all levels and ages – but serve up a veritable feast of steep and deep adventures for advanced and expert skiers and borders.

Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole ‘The Big One’ is renowned for advanced and expert skiers, overflowing with black and double black diamonds, backcountry gates, cliffs, trees, groomers, bowls, chutes and one very famous couloir.

To unlock many of these fantastic options take Big Red a.k.a the 9-minute Aerial Tram ride to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain.

From here you can:

  • descend Rendezvous Bowl to Bivouac trees
  • funnel toward Bernie’s and Cheyenne Bowls
  • barrel down steeper runs with true fall lines into Rendezvous Trail
  • do a leg-day workout on the beautiful open, endless terrain of The Hobacks.

The Thunder chair offers lots of north-facing powder fun through the trees at:

  • Tower Three Chute
  • Paint Brush
  • Hoops Gap.

And you’ll fall for (but hopefully not down) the amazing variety of Black diamond delights, such:

  • Cirque, which forms a beautifully pitched wide-open bowl for your skiing and riding pleasure.
  • for steep tree skiing on the Alta chutes
  • the treasure chest of cliffs, tight chutes and seriously fun deep-powder turns of local favourite Casper Bowl.

Of course, we can’t mention Jackson Hole adrenaline-shots without a shout-out to the world famous, Double Black, Corbet’s Couloir.

Many a curious thrill-seeker has nervously peered down the 30-foot drop into the keyhole entrance of this thin, steep, sliver of a run. About half take the plunge. Even if you don’t take the challenge, it’s worth a look and selfie.

For the other skiers
While around 50% of Jackson Hole terrain is for advanced skiers, there’s plenty of slope action to gibe less experienced friends and family a taste of big mountain skiing too with 40% intermediate & 10% beginner runs.

Après Vous Mountain is great choice for smooth, wide, cruisy groomers, the chance to try low-risk tree skiing and some amazing views of the valley.

Blue Powder Travel consultant, Mick says “There are so many great black runs to choose from. You could spend all day on different runs from top to bottom, while the kids are having a great time on blue runs and beginners”

  • Average snowfall = 12+m
  • Total inbounds terrain = 2,500 acres
  • Top elevation = 3,185m
  • Bottom elevation = 1,923m
  • Total vertical drop = 1,261 m
  • Trails = 80
  • Lifts = 11

Squaw Valley

In 1984, ski film legend Warren Miller shot Scot Schmidt jumping 100ft from Squaw Valley’s Palisades cliffs, giving birth to US extreme skiing, and a new term for the crazy, Schmidiots.

An abundance of steep bowls, chutes and cliffs makes Squaw Valley a mecca for expert skiers.

However, with over 12m of snow per year, an excellent lift system, stellar cruisers, 25% beginner terrain and jaw-dropping Lake Tahoe views, you don’t need to be an adrenalin junkie to crush on Squaw. We love:

  • In the early morning head to The Fingers, off of the KT-22 chairlift or black diamond Siberia Bowl
  • For leg-burning bumps, take on Mosely’s Run
  • Get a taste of off-piste skiing and ski the trees at Granite Glades
  • Start high at Granite Chief, working your way down the mountain to easy black Red Dog in the afternoon
  • Try the Women’s Downhill and imagine you’re an Olympian on this long, smooth descent from the top of this airy ridge.

For the other skiers
Shirley Lake Express chairlift is great for intermediates with perfect cruisers, lots of sunshine and very few of the Squallywood extreme crowd. Squaw also splits intermediate runs into “more difficult” and “most difficult”.

Plus, there’s mountain-top ice skating and swimming at the Swimming Lagoon & Spa at High Camp overlooking Lake Tahoe, free with daily lift tickets.

• Average snowfall = 12m
• Total inbounds terrain = 3,600 acres
• Top elevation = 2,758m
• Bottom elevation = 1,889m
• Total vertical drop = 868m
• Trails = 170+
• Lifts = 30

Telluride

Over the past decade, Telluride resort has been tempting advanced skiers and boarders to its beautifully transformed 1800’s mining town, cosy village and breathtaking slopes, by upgrading its facilities and opening new terrain.

Two hundred years ago, Telluride (To Hell You Ride) earned its name for the treacherous trip getting here. Today, it’s an adventure playground for all ages, experience levels and snow holiday interests.

That includes enough devilishly exciting advanced and expert options to keep you out mischief for days, such as the:

  • plunge down and exhilarating turns of iconic black ski trails, The Plunge and Bushwacker
  • above treeline bowl skiing at Revelation Bowl
  • steep, groomed, expert-level ski trails of Silvercloud
  • playful lines in and out of trees at Apex before following See Forever to heavenly Milk Run
  • fun, natural features and well-spaced trees of Sweet Martha
  • thrills of expert’s rite of passage, the 240m, 45 degree mogul-fest known as Kant-Mak-M

For the other skiers
They’ll be in rapture over the easy access to gentle beginner runs, meandering blue cruisers and green runs amongst the trees. And even beginners can take the lift up to the top for the views and a ski all the way back down for warm drinks.

  • Average snowfall = 8m
  • Total inbounds terrain = 2,000 acres
  • Top elevation = 3,831m
  • Bottom elevation = 2,659m
  • Total vertical drop = 1,155 m
  • Trails = 148
  • Lifts = 18

Blue Powder Travel consultant, Mick says; “The terrain is crazy here – so much variety it keeps everyone happy! Plus I love the mix of the two towns and all the different experiences you can have – authentic Western Telluride and ritzy alpine Mountain village.”

Whistler Blackcomb

Whether you’re sampling Whistler’s eclectic snow action, sipping coffee, swilling cocktails or savouring a fabulous meal, there’s always a common denominator…fun.

The people at SKI Magazine agree. They’ve voted Canada’s favourite ski holiday destination ‘No.1 best overall ski resort in North America’ three years in a row.

Even better, 25% of the jaw-dropping 8000 acres of skiable terrain is set aside for advanced skiers and boarders.

A sample of the many highlights include:

  • Boomer Bowl – a big, open bowl that leads to the steep and narrow Gun Barrels.
  • Flute Bowl – for a taste of backcountry adventure within a patrolled in-bounds slope.
  • Swilling a double shot of adrenalin as you drop into Whistler Bowl.
  • Challenging yourself to a non-stop ski to Grand Finale
  • Testing your expert mettle on double black The Coulior or The Cirque.

For the other skiers
With 25% beginner terrain, 50% intermediate and one of the best ski schools in the world, there’s no reason to feel guilty as you disappear up into the whites of Whistler to satisfy your need for speed, drops, turns and space.

  • Average snowfall = 10m
  • Total inbounds terrain = 8,171 acres
  • Top elevation = 2,284m
  • Bottom elevation = 652m
  • Total vertical drop = 1,609m at Blackcomb (1,530m at Whistler)
  • Trails = 200+
  • Lifts = 38

Blue Powder Travel consultant, Mick says; “For a different adrenaline rush, head to the Olympic Bob Sled Centre to experience epic bobsledding or skeleton!

Revelstoke
This former BC logging town is a magnet for skiers and snowboarders with a serious powder addiction. A sample of Revelstoke’s natural and man-made gifts include:

  • The longest vertical ski hill in North America (1,713 vertical metres)
  • Deep powder and endless tree runs
  • two high-speed quad chairlifts and an 8-person gondola
  • Two alpine bowls
  • A terrain park
  • Lift, cat and heli-ski services from one village base.

Specials on the adrenalin menu include:

  • warm-up runs on Snow Rodeo which starts black at the top of the mountain before mellowing out to a sweeping blue
  • thigh-scorching Pitch Black – the longest black run in North America (1,676m)
  • ripping huge, wide turns at speed on the wide-open runs of Wooley Bully
  • tree lines of lower mountain gem, Critical Glades, and some exhilarating drops.
  • rails, easy table top jumps and giant kickers at the Terrain
  • Jalapeno for fast blacks, glades and a heck of a lot of fun.

For the other skiers

With a new beginner area and over 45% intermediate terrain, everyone’s wearing happy faces at Revelstoke.

The Last Spike is an easy green run you could all do together. It winds down the front side of the mountain offering some of the most spectacular views of the valley and mountain range.

Blue Powder Travel consultant, Mick says “If you eat, sleep and breathe snow sports, Revelstoke may well be your spirit animal resort.”

  • Average Annual Snowfall = 6m
  • Total inbounds terrain = 3,121 acres
  • Top elevation =  2,225m
  • Bottom elevation = 512m
  • Total vertical drop = 1,713m
  • Trails = 59
  • Lifts = 5

Hakuba
Japan is not renowned for its steep terrain so when we mention Hakuba, most advanced skiers picture deep champagne powder rather than steep heart-palpitating drops. However, eyes soon light up when they fathom everything on the banquet at Japan’s largest ski destination:

  • 2,300 acres of skiable terrain
  • 137km of piste and 200+ courses
  • 135 lifts (5 gondolas)
  • 9 terrain parks
  • Has three of the top four resorts in the world for most annual snowfall
  • 11 resorts with slopes facing all directions for different conditions even on the same day.
  • one ticket that provides accesses all resorts in the Valley

In other words, an assortment advanced and expert adventures as delicious as the Raman scents wafting from the restaurants and izakayas that line the resort village streets once your day on the mountain is done.

Some of the most exciting places to test your ski ninja skills include:

  • Happo One challenges, ranging from the mogul slope at the top of the ski piste, to the run that descends 1,000 vertical meters.
  • Hakuba 47’s park for intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders long, steep and challenging runs, is a mecca for advanced riders.
  • Tsugaike Kogen for red and black moguls, groomers and untouched powder, or for something unique, backcountry courses and heli-skiing tours
  • The huge open bowl, challenging tree lines and chutes of powder snow hoarder, Cortina.

For the other skiers

Along with great English speaking ski school facilities, 30% of the terrain is designed for beginners and 40% for intermediates, including long groomers and wide runs.

Hakuba 47 has an amazing 6.5km-long forest run from the summit where beginners can enjoy the view too.

One of the best things about holidays at modern ski resorts is the variety of terrain available for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.

So, whether everyone in your party is ready for steep and deep, or some of them have never put boot to snow, there’s no reason a healthy dose of adrenaline can’t be part of your next ski holiday experience. For any further information on where the right destination is for you, talk to the people who’ve been there!

 Contact Blue Powder Travel 

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