Catch of the Day - Unofficial Steepest US Runs
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JimK - DCSki Columnist
August 15, 2007
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,721 posts
Catch of the Day - Unofficial Rating of the Steepest Runs in America

In case you hadn't seen before, I submit the following as fun food for thought on steep runs. The info that follows came primarily from this thread on epicski.com :
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=29735&highlight=steep
These steepness statistics were offered by a poster named Powdr, he gets any credit (or blame) due. I believe he is some kind of geographic info systems analyst and used Google Earth to derive the degree of steepness for what he perceived to be the steepest stretch with over a couple hundred yards length on well known ski trails around the country. The list started with Eastern trails, but then stats were added on a sampling of terrain from all around the country. Sorry, the runs are listed in somewhat random order. I've done a little editing in my compilation, hopefully not introducing errors. He tried to pick the steepest section he could find on each run, as long as it was over 500' in length, but I wouldn't call this process/stats definitive. They may make for fun discussion/speculation though. Note: these are in degrees, not percent.

Ovation at Killington (24 degrees, actually):
Paradise at MRG - 32.5 degrees
Tramline at Cannon - 28.1 degrees
White Nitro, Sugarloaf - 29.5 degree
Starr @ Stowe - 31.1 degrees
Castle Rock @ Sugarbush - 21.3 degrees
Whiteface Slides @ whiteface - 36.3 degrees
Denton Hill's (PA) triple diamond run - 27.7 degrees
Goat @ Stowe - 33.6 degrees
Robin's Run @ Smuggs - 29.8 degrees
Outer Limits @ Killington - 28.5 degrees
Devils Fiddle @ Killington - 25 degrees
Ripcord @ Mt. Snow - 27.4 degrees
Tuckerman's Ravine, NH (steepest I could find) - 45.3 degrees (damm!)
Dynamite @ Tremblant - 28 degrees
Black Hole @ Smuggs - 31.0 degrees
Ovation (lower section) @ Killington - 30.7 degrees
KT-22 East Chutes @ Squaw - 41 degrees
Huevos Grande @ Mammoth - 52.3 degrees (wicked steep)
51-50 @ PCMR - 47.9 degrees (and everyone says PCMR isn't steep)
Main Baldy Chute @ Alta - 44 degrees (but it's a dry steep)
Extrovert @ Blue Knob - 28.5 degrees
High Rustler @ Alta - 44.3 degrees
Great Scott @ Snowbird - 46.5 degrees
Upper Cirque @ Snowbird - 40.5 degrees
Peruvian @ Snowbird - 32.9 degrees
Under Powderhorn lift @ Solitude - 42.8 degrees
Under 9990 @ The Canyons - 29 degrees
Square Top @ The Canyons - 41.0 degrees
Upper Big Emma (Green Run!) @ Snowbird - 25.3 degrees!
Rumble @ Sugarbush - 27.9 degrees
Pitch Pine @ King Pine - 21.1 Degrees

Tuckerman Ravine Routes:
1 - 38.7 degrees
2 - 44.0 degrees
3 - 44.6 degrees
4 - 48.1 degrees
5 - 48.3 degrees
6 - 46.8 degrees
7 - 43.5 degrees
8 - 42.8 degrees
9 - 31.4 degrees
10- 30.3 degrees

Lower Wildcat @ Laurel Mountain (PA) - 28.1 degrees
Tower Three Chute @ JH - 43.1 degrees
Blowhole (Whistler/Blackcomb) - couldn't find it on the map
Rumor @ Gore - 28.9 degrees
Gunbarrel @ Heavenly, on the steepest pitch (a 136' section) is 31.6 degrees.
Palisades @ Squaw - 45.5 degrees (steepest section I could find - 205' long)

A photo of Huevos Grande @ Mammoth Mountain, CA:
http://www.sierradescents.com/photos/2006/mammoth.php




Roger Z
August 16, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Sweet! I think someone asked on the other forum- but where again is 51-50 at Park City? Where's Square Top at The Canyons... Crush?

Wish there was a way to assess some other hills, but I suppose Powdr has got his hands full- I'd be curious to see what the slopes at Crystal in Washington State and Taos in NM are.

SO... who's skied what on this list? And which on the list is the steepest you've done? It looks like my steepest run has been Tower 3 Chute at JH. And, for those who have skied west and east- which runs in your book have seemed *tougher* (as opposed to steeper)?
RobertW
August 16, 2007
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
Great List!

I was not in the steepest section but I did ski the area between Upper and Lower Cirque (Snowbird) during a snowstorm when I was a lot younger. Skiing terrain that is 35+ degrees is about as close to freefall as you will get with your feet touching the ground. There was 2+ feet of the light stuff and the feeling was similar to being in a white elevator shaft. I don't think I have ever come so close to "soiling myself" as then as all I could see was white with little or no depth perception. I can only imagine how much better it would have been if I had been able to see anything.

I also have skied the Killington entries (the Outer Limts moguls are legendary) and Extrovert and Lower Wildcat in PA.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
August 16, 2007
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,721 posts
I've been on (or near):
all or most of the Killington entries,
have traveled over Tramline on the Cannon Tram, has cliff-like sections, would be extremely tough to ski,
White Nitro at Sugarloaf (didn't think this run was that tough, but it was boilerplate during my visit which I find easier than moguls when steepness is equal),
passed on Castle Rock trail pod during low snow visit (very impressive from afar though),
pretty sure I did Ripcord back in the '80s,
not sure what Black Hole is, but Smuggs has a little section of extremely steep in-bounds glades,
Extrovert (first time was ~1970),
Great Scott (made it to a helacious drop-off, then backed away, steepest terrain I've skied that close to),
Big Emma (doesn't belong on this list),
not sure about Rumor at Gore (visit was about 20 yrs ago),
Gunbarrel (similar to Outer Limits @ Killington)

As you can tell from my recent trip reports my skiing of this kind of terrain is pretty much historical, I'm on friendly groomers for the most part now.
JohnL
August 16, 2007
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
I've skied:
Paradise at MRG - 32.5 degrees
Castle Rock @ Sugarbush - 21.3 degrees
Goat @ Stowe - 33.6 degrees
Outer Limits @ Killington - 28.5 degrees
Devils Fiddle @ Killington - 25 degrees
Black Hole @ Smuggs - 31.0 degrees
51-50 @ PCMR - 47.9 degrees (and everyone says PCMR isn't steep)
Main Baldy Chute @ Alta - 44 degrees (but it's a dry steep)
Extrovert @ Blue Knob - 28.5 degrees
High Rustler @ Alta - 44.3 degrees
Under Powderhorn lift @ Solitude - 42.8 degrees
Under 9990 @ The Canyons - 29 degrees
Rumble @ Sugarbush - 27.9 degrees
Lower Wildcat @ Laurel Mountain (PA) - 28.1 degrees
Tower Three Chute @ JH - 43.1 degrees
Gunbarrel @ Heavenly, on the steepest pitch (a 136' section) is 31.6 degrees.

Not sure:
Ovation at Killington (24 degrees, actually):
Ovation (lower section) @ Killington - 30.7 degree
May have also skied some of the trails at Snowbird. Not sure what is named what off that ridge.

Also skied most of the terrain next to Robin's Run at Smugg's, but not Robin's Run itself.

I've looked down Blowhole at W/B, but always elected to ski the next line to skier's right of Blowhole. It is less steep, but always had much better snow.

Roger Z, 51-50 is on the face to chairlift rider's right of the McConkey lift. You can get to it by either hiking from the top of the McConkey lift or from the top of the lift that servers Jupiter Bowl (approaching from the backside of the ridge.)
fishnski
August 16, 2007
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Whats the name of the run at the top of Grouse Mt at Beaver Ck that falls off to the right of the main runs?......I fell down that one \:o
Crush
August 16, 2007
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,010 posts
rogerzman - square-top is that back country ob face you see as you get off the chair at the top of saddleback @ the canyons. it has well a "square top" a ridge line that goes pretty even with the horizon. did it once or twice (a long haul for me b/c i am lazy) but it was fun. i've seen it fracture twice so it's a little scary but yeah nice but also the kind of thing you can hammer going really fast fluid you don't need any hop turns or whatever .

funny - no mention of "challenger" @ deer valley ... actually depending on conditions it must be 38 at the top for about 20 yards. and narrow too. i never found great scott to be a big deal after the first turn, except when it has a million bumps on it then it is just plain work - and i am lazy.
Roger Z
August 16, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Thanks JohnL, thanks Crush! I've done Square Top- it's quite a hike but hiking across the backside of The Canyons has to rank as one of the best hikes I've ever done. The view into Big Cottonwood Canyon and the quietness back there is amazing. Snow was crappy when I went down it... as were my turns. \:\(

Have not done 51-50. The only time I hiked up there it was fogged in. Was going to go up last winter but the conditions were rocky, so I skipped it.

I think Perelli's at Taos would clock in close to Tower 3 Chute at JH. It was an attention grabber, a 15 foot fracture of a ridgeline that plummeted down through forests immediately east of Longhorn and has a near-mandatory cliff about six turns down. The snow under the cliff was fantastic; easily the best trail I found at Taos that you didn't have to hike to get to.

There's another run at Whistler, when I was there everyone was saying it was the steepest run there but I can't remember the name right now, and Blowhole might be steeper.

For pure terror, one of the toughest runs I ever *saw* was at Lake Louise in Alberta. You literally could not see the slope, so I skipped it... and was glad to do so. When I traversed under, there was a nasty old rock that people were gouging their skis on, that you couldn't see over the lip. For true toughness, I think the Hobacks at JH are up there because they're so damn relentless. Close to a half mile vertical of steep pitch, multiple fall lines, shifting snow conditions. You'll know when you get to the bottom whether you were in shape or not. One of my favorite steep pitches I ever skied was a glade off the Scott Lift at Alpine Meadows in CA (and Goat at Stowe!). And speaking of sick... the Palisades at Sugar Bowl might be the sickest thing a ski resort ever took liability for and opened up. No idea how anyone finds a line through that mother...
Denis - DCSki Supporter
August 20, 2007
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,217 posts
Nice catch Jim. I think it is pretty accurate as well. Slope inclinometers and contour lines are the best ways of measuring slope steepness. Skier estimates are almost always too high. Here is a great link on which you can waste hours in these August days. http://patrol.mammothmountain.com/Atlas/Atlas.html
Click on the map and it will open another map of that particular area. Then click on path information to get steepness and on shot placement to see the places where the patrol places avalanche charges. I have skied almost all of these runs and all of my Mammoth skiing has been on telemark equipment. Hangman's is regarded as Mammoth's bragging rights run and the entrance is right there in your face for all to see. I will eventually do it but I'm waiting for a perfect powder day and after avi control work. The locals who have done them all regard Huevos and Phillippe's as tougher. I don't think I'll ever try the latter. The crux is just too narrow, rocky, and wicked looking. Mammoth is a fantastic place for steep lovers.

I've skied about half of this list. Steep is something that gets into your blood. It scares you and it draws you in like a moth to a flame. My first western trip was Utah in 1984. We were at Alta on day one and a local pointed up at High Rustler. I looked and did not believe that anyone had ever skied it or ever would. To a brain calibrated on eastern skiing it was incomprehensible. We were there 9 days going a little steeper each day and on the last day I skied Rustler. The snow was great and it was easier than many eastern runs half that steep under icy conditions. But it took a whole week to get my head into it. I've skied a lot of steeps since then, relish them, but will not drop in if my head says - NO. no is a sign of the adrenaline you need but NO! must be respected. It can be hard to know which no you are dealing with, if that makes any sense. I'm getting more conservative with age. I think it is likely that I will run out of the mental ability to ski steeps before I run out of physical ability. That is probably a survival trait.
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