For more extreme skiing inspiration take a read of our top 5 black ski runs in Europe.
1. Jackson Hole, USA
Jackson Hole is only for expert skiers and attracts the best of the best. The terrain is all steep and very little is groomed. The 3 day Steep and Deep Camp here is world renowned and is highly recommended.
This is the resort that Ski Instructors fight to work at and the selection criteria here is the toughest in the USA. On a powder day, which is most days, drop into the Hobacks which never get tracked out or hire a guide and head to the Cody bowl. If you want serious bragging rights then take the huck into the legendary Corbett's Couloir. Plenty have looked over the edge at the 20+ foot drop and walked away, but will you?
2. Chamonix, France
There are more ski guides in Chamonix than anywhere else in the world and this is one area that really requires them. Avalanches, cliffs, and crevasses claim more lives here each year than most other whole countries. The Glaciers on Les Grand-Montets and on Mont Blanc are spectacular and deadly.
The Vallée Blanche tour from the Aiguille du Midi right above the town is very popular and the main route down the Italian side of the glacier is quite easy and gets tracked out early. The initial climb down the spine from the ice cave at the top is good fun and your guide will attach himself to you in case you fall over the edge down the near 2km sheer drop.
If you want ski thrills then hire a top guide and get them to take you down the French side of the glacier. This will involve jumping some decent sized crevasses and takes some bottle. He will want to check your skiing ability before attempting this. There is a lunch stop half way down and at the bottom there are some ice caves and an old cog train full of smiling tourers for the last part of the trip. On a sunny day the bars opposite train stop are full of skiers from all over the world comparing ski adventure stories.
3. Whistler, Canada
Whistler Blackcomb is probably the slickest run resort in the world. The pisting, glading of tree runs, and lift management is peerless. It's a dream for the extreme skier because so much that is really tricky is available straight off the lift system and doesn't require any hiking.
It's handy to have a guide to show you all the hidden entrances to the couloirs and bowls. Our favourite is the West bowl on Whistler peak, but if that gets tracked then head over to Blackcomb for the Garnet, Diamond and Sapphire Bowls, accessible by climbing Spanky’s Ladder from the Glacier chair. The triple black diamond terrain park is so serious it requires a photo license that is bought at the bottom. The flat tops and spines are massive and the Superpipe is the biggest we've seen. Bragging rights here come from doing the 2 six foot staircase drops into Whistler's Couloir. A mistake here will be your last.
4. Verbier, Switzerland
Verbier considers itself the home of extreme skiing and hosts several competitions each year bringing in the best Big Mountain skiers in Europe. With short hikes from the cable cars you can get to legendary runs like Stairway to Heaven or Rock Garden.
Our favourite tour is over the back side of Mont Fort which will really get the adrenaline flowing. From the top of Mont Fort you can also see the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc so take a camera. Verbier is home to several good guide companies and progressive ski schools. The Clinics for expert skiers here are probably the best in Europe.
5. St Anton, Austria
St Anton is our favourite resort. It has the perfect combination of crazy Austrian après ski action, a pretty and traditional looking town, friendly locals, and a massive ski area famed for its huge and consistent snowfall. You need to get up early here to beat the hundreds of ski beardies with their full backcountry packs who compete to get the first tracks on all the famous runs.
An absolute must for any expert skier is the Valluga 'over the back' tour. The Valluga Bridge Couloir is the most fun descent option and you aren't allowed on it without a guide. If you don't want to hire a guide then the best run on a powder day is off the back of Rendl on the opposite side of the valley. The Hinter Rendl and North Face tours are seriously only for experts but if you are up to it then the rewards are immense. Just don't go too low before traversing back to the Rendl Bahn or you will be looking over 300 foot cliffs and facing a difficult climb back up.
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