THE BLOG

World's Most Terrifying Ski Slopes

02/02/2015 04:34 pm ET | Updated Apr 04, 2015

By Allison Williams, Condé Nast Traveler

Strapping yourself onto two tiny pieces of wood--or one thick one--isn't terrifying enough; that's why daredevils brave cliffs, chutes, and iced-over moguls. These near-vertical runs are within recognized ski areas, proving you can be on-piste yet still out of your mind.

1. Couloir Extreme, Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler, BC, Canada

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© All Canada Photos / Alamy

A spring race down the terrifying Saudan Couloir on Blackcomb Mountain began in 1987, soon billed as "2,500 Vertical Feet of Thigh Burning Hell." The name morphed into Couloir Extreme, an apt title for the run that starts with panoramic views of the Coast Range peaks but often ends in a disastrous tumble.

2. Corbet's Couloir
Jackson Hole, WY

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© Raymond Gehman/National Geographic Society/Corbis

The first turn is always the hardest, and in this famously terrifying run it's also a four- to six-meter controlled fall into a narrow chute. After the initial drop, skiers must quickly avoid the rocks that litter the route. It doesn't help that the plunge is visible from the cable car that flies above the couloir (a fancy word for a steep gully).

3. Delirium Dive, Sunshine Village, Canada
Banff, AB, Canada

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Courtesy Sunshine Village

Avalanches are so common at this Banff zone that an avalanche beacon, shovel, probe, and buddy are required for entry. Two skiers had to be airlifted off the mountain last May when snow slid down the 50-degree slope. All-day clinics focus on bagging this single, infamous run.

4. Rambo
Crested Butte, CO

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John Terence Turner/Getty Images

Moguls scare some skiers, but the bumps are about the only thing standing between those who dare to try this ultra-steep run and a free fall. At 55 degrees, it's said to be the steepest run in North America, though it's only 300 meters long--a short thrill.

5. Valluga
St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria

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© Neiliann Tait / Alamy

A gondola runs to the summit of this Tyrolean peak, but no one's allowed to bring skis on board unless they have a guide (everyone else is a sightseer). The mountain claims to be the "cradle of Alpine skiing" for the techniques developed here, but the best skill on the rocky cliffs is guts.

6. Harakiri
Mayrhofen, Austria

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© Cultura RM / Alamy

As the steepest groomed slope in the world, this run might not seem quite as terrifying (even though it's named for a form of ritual suicide). But when it's tiled downhill at 38 degrees, corduroy never seemed so terrifying--and plenty of folks fall down the entire run once they lose their balance.

7. Great Scott
Snowbird, UT

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© Lee Cohen/Corbis

While the hike-in Pipeline requires daredevils to rappel down ropes while wearing skis (and sign a waiver before they do so), the Great Scott falls 1,000 vertical feet right under the tram. The run is littered with rocks and sudden drops that are often hidden by the heavy powder.

8. Grand Couloir
Courchevel, France

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Christian Arnal

Strangely enough, the word "easy" is often attached to this in-bounds couloir, but that's simply compared to harder nearby drops that don't happen to be recognized runs. The ridge path to the drop-in point is famously icy, with scary drops on either side, and the reward for making it is a steep chute, then moguls.

9. Le Pas de Chavanette
Avoriaz, France

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Stéphane Lerendu

The slope known as the Swiss Wall begins with the holy trio of challenges: It's steep, narrow, and filled with moguls the size of Mini Coopers. Oh, and it's often icy. Survivors can brag that they started the run in France but ended in a Swiss ski town, since the run bridges the national border in a ski area made up of 14 villages and 200 lifts.