Best Ski Resorts for Advanced Skiers
May 12, 2020
Most of the major resorts in the world have great, varied terrain – there’s usually enough to keep all levels happy. But there are some that stand out with enough challenging inbounds or out-of-bounds extreme steeps to keep the most advanced skier happy for days.
Jackson Hole is one of the best resorts in the world for access to steep and extreme terrain. The famous Corbet’s Couloir is on the bucket list of most advanced skiers. There are plenty of chutes, cliffs and bowls to play in (try the Alta chutes or Meet Your Maker to get the adrenaline pumping). The best part is that so much is accessed by the 9-minute ride up the Tram. However, there’s also some great hike-to terrain on Headwall and Casper Bowl. And the resort is planning a lift to the top of the Crags (currently hike-to) for the 15/16 season.
Revelstoke's recently found fame is the result of endless visions of skiers jumping down powder pillows or hucking off cliffs. It has the highest vertical descent in North America or 1,713 vertical meters/5,620 feet and when combined with the steeps and natural features there is enough terrain here to keep the thighs burning for days.
Whistler Blackcomb is mammoth. And when you look at the black runs in size (2206ac; 893ha) rather than as a percentage it reminds you that the advanced terrain alone is bigger than most other ski resorts in their entirety. Most of the double-black diamonds are in the high alpine areas – head to the “Couloir Extreme” on Blackcomb for an adrenaline rush or the equally thrilling steeps of Whistler’s Peak chair or the Blackcomb Glacier via Spanky’s Ladder for some powder.
Home to some of North America’s best expert terrain, Kicking Horse is still one of the best kept secrets in skiing. With over 60% of the terrain black and double-black diamond runs, Kicking Horse has earned a reputation for being one of the best resorts for advanced skiing and snowboarding. The chutes of the South and North ridges (off the aptly named Terminator Peaks) are particularly great at getting the heart pumping, and skiers will love the big bowls, gladed runs and dry powder off Redemption Ridge (who names these mountains?!).
Even before these Alta and Snowbird resorts launched a combined ticket and opened gates to allow skiers to cross between them, they held a special place in the hearts of most advanced skiers. The fluffy, dry powder is plentiful and usually the best in the country. Added to that is some incredible lift-accessed and hike-to steep terrain and you have two resorts that are almost unmatched in their potential for providing heart-stopping runs. The famous Baldy Chutes can be accessed from either resort but are usually best left to the pros.
Whitewater caters perfectly to advanced and expert skiers - in fact, over 68% of the resort terrain is made up of countless chutes, wide bowls, and glades that are sure to satisfy that white-knuckle action you seek. There are plenty of opportunities for awesome lift-accessed backcountry touring from the resort, and teamed up with great tree skiing, and plenty of opportunities to get 'steep and deep', Whitewater has become one of our favourite resorts for advanced skiers in BC.
Aspen is renowned for having some of the best advanced skiing on offer - all you need to do is take a hike! The Highland Bowl is probably one of the most well-known hike-to areas in Colorado and on a powder day it is definitely worth the hard work. Advanced skiers could spend a whole week exploring the terrain around Aspen and not ski the same run twice. It's a fantastic choice for expert skiers, with high alpine and gladed skiing.
Steep skiing isn't something that Japan is famous for. Instead it's all about pow, pow and more pow. Yet Hakuba in Japan's Nagano region is quite the surprise package. Admittedly a lot of the resort terrain isn't steep, but with a bit of effort, the backcountry area around the valley has some of the steepest and best terrain in the country. In 2017 it was even host to a stop on the Freeride World Qualifiers.
If we had to pick one resort in the world as the best for steep skiing, Chamonix in the French Alps would be it. Situated at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, Chamonix has endless terrain in and out of the resorts for thrill seekers. Getting a guide here is essential as it isn't easy, nor is it safe due to the sheer drops and crevasses that can surprise and frighten even the most seasoned skier.
Verbier isn't the final stop of the Freeride World tour for no reason. This huge resort in the Swiss Alps has some of the best steep skiing within resort boundaries, and, of course, endless steep skiing outside the boundries too. Much of it takes little effort to get to, meaning that you can get a serious amount of vertical in each day. And the sheer size of the resort means there's enough heart pumping terrain to keep any great skier terrified ad satisfied for days and days.
Val d'Isere is heaven for advanced and expert skiers. For starters there’s the super steep Bellevarde run (a Winter Olympics downhill course), and tons of wide open red runs for some super high-speed cruising. But the main attraction is the fantastic off-piste, much of which is accessed via lifts (giving those legs a well-earned rest). While it’s not the biggest ski area in France, the terrain options are endless and there are plenty of ridges and valleys to ski to your hearts content.
For years Engelberg in Switzerland went under the radar, however thanks to the proliferation of Scandanivian proffessional freeriders that have made it their home, it's been elevated to cult status. The best terrain is accessed outside the resort boundaries and local guides should be used. Scout can attest that it is truly some of the best fun skiing we've had in a long time.
St Anton in Austria might be famous for it's Apres, but one can make sure they truly deserve a beer by skiing some of the huge resort's huge terrain. Now connected to Lech and Zurs by lifts, there are endless opportunities to get the adreneline pumping.