North America’s Most Classic Ski Runs

All you need is patience, timing, and a good pole whack before dropping in

This article originally appeared in the November 2015 (44.3) issue of POWDER as part our guide to The Best Winter Ever.

Some ski runs are right in your face, every single day. Others are obscure stashes in the trees that you and your buddies try to keep secret. And some are so crowded on holidays that they constitute the most dangerous skiing you’ll do all winter.

And then, there are the classics, the ski lines that represent milestones that never get old. They usually require patience and timing, and so when it’s finally ON there’s no place else you’d rather go. So step into those bindings, pole whack it for good measure, and drop in. In a special never-before-seen Alta-free segment, these are the most classic inbounds ski runs in North America.

1. The Fingers at Squaw Valley, California. If you’re 16 and you think you’re hot shit, the Fingers are where it’s at. Right under the chair and visible from the parking lot, the bars, and the base area, the Fingers are the original Hollywood line.

2. First Notch in the East Wall at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado. The long, steep shot in the wall is a proving ground.

3. The Little Couloir at Big Sky, Montana. Not to be outdone by its big brother, this little guy is steep and narrow and sketchy.

4. Alta Zero at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Corbet’s is more visible, but believe it or not, this one is more daring. Alta Zero is either a poach (not recommended) or it’s a big enough year that ski patrol can drop the rope. If Alta Zero is open, everything is in. Oh, and it’s right under the Sublette chair, so style counts.

5. The N.C. at Alpine Meadows, California. We can’t say the full name, but this chute is as tight as a nun’s…

6. Hidden Gully at Bridger Bowl, Montana. Drop a cornice into a chute barely wider than a pair of downhill boards. The chute stays narrow for a few turns and then opens up to an apron full of glorious pow.

7. Kill the Banker at Revelstoke, BC. A sustained and steep frozen waterfall with cliffs and pillows and whoop-de-dos. The line falls right under the gondola, so close that passengers inside can hear the joyful screams of the skiers below.

8. The Traynors at Aspen, Colorado. From Pat Sewell, a resident of Aspen’s ski bum palace, the Skier’s Chalet: “This zone taunts you all year long with its technical lines, steep glades, and plethora of pillows and cliffs. It quite literally drops right into town, and if you screw up, you might just roll all the way down to Main Street.”

9. Single Chair line at Mad River Glen, Vermont. Ski it if you can; you’ll have an audience.

10. Pipeline at Snowbird, Utah. A beautiful chute with a sustained fall line and rock walls on either side.

11. Palmyra Peak at Telluride, Colorado. Ski off the top of the peak you can’t stop staring at. Senior’s is the main shot off the top. Roy Boy, to skier’s right, through the cliffband, is more spicy.

Marquee image—And then there’s always Corbet’s. It didn’t make our list, because, well, you’ve seen it before, though maybe not in such good style as Andrew Whiteford. PHOTO: Jay Goodrich