100 best ski runs in the world

Story highlights

Best list panel of pickers includes Olympic medalist and ski/snowboard innovators

U.S., France, Canada top the list with most entries

Corbet's Couloir at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has been called world's scariest slope

CNN  — 

What great beaches are to summer, ski runs are to winter.

To make sure the snow hounds among us get equal treatment to the beach bums, we asked some of the world’s top skiers, snowboarders and winter sports journalists to name their favorite ski run.

Our panel included Andrew Weibrecht, Olympic medalist and U.S. ski team member; John Stifter, editor at U.S. ski bible Powder magazine; Mike Douglas, the godfather of free-skiing and creator of the world’s first twin-tip ski; and Nicola Iseard, editor of the UK’s top ski magazine, Fall Line.

They helped us come up with this list of some of the world’s most exhilarating ski runs.

Difficulty evaluations for each run were provided by the respective resorts and reflect a mix of rating systems.

While the resorts of Europe and North America understandably dominated the list, the novelty factor of skiing in some of the world’s lesser known ski destinations resulted in a few less predictable recommendations.

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100. Saulire, Three Valleys, France

“One of my favorite runs is the Saulire,” says Emily Sarsfield, Great Britain’s current number one ski-X athlete.

“It stretches all the way from the Meribel/Courchevel connection at 2,700 meters to Meribel Village at 1,400 meters. It’s a great long run with really wide pistes and great views down the valley.”

Watch out for: Rapid descent.

Rating: Red


99. Valluga, St. Anton, Austria

St. Anton’s huge, powder-filled bowls attract skiers and snowboarders, but for many, the highlight is the 3,000-meter Valluga run.

You’re not allowed to board the lift to the top without a guide, and the first section is challenging.

After that you encounter a series of powder fields before reachig Zürs – famous for its mountaintop restaurants.

Watch out for: Powder-filled bowls.

Rating: Black


98. The Cliff, Big White, British Columbia

According to Team GB snowboarder Becky Menday, you can’t do much better than The Cliff for adrenaline.

“I love doing The Cliff – it’s a near vertical face with amazing chutes to run down, especially on a powder day,” she says.

Watch out for: Snowboarders crushing it at warp speed.

Rating: Double black diamond


97. McConkey’s, Squaw Valley, California

California's Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympic Games.

Once known as Eagle’s Nest, this run was renamed after the tragic death of Squaw Valley local Shane McConkey.

It can be found at the top of the KT-22 lift and is for advanced athletes only, thanks largely to the 68-degree pitch of the final section.

Watch out for: Other people.

Rating: Double black diamond


96. Motatapu Chutes, Treble Cone, New Zealand

The Motatapu Chutes are a series of expert-only runs in Treble Cone, New Zealand.

The chutes can be found at the top of the Saddle Basin chairlift.

New Zealand’s top freestyle skiers and snowboarders love the varied terrain, which includes powder-filled bowls, narrow couloirs and drops.

Watch out for: Drops that appear out of nowhere.

Rating: Black


95. Chute 75, Squaw Valley, California

Pro skier Cody Townsend never tires of Squaw Valley’s Chute 75.

“Chute 75 is one of the most infamous runs at the legendary Squaw Valley,” he says.

“From fresh powder to spring slush, it skis well in nearly all conditions and sustains a pitch of 35 degrees for nearly 1,500 vertical feet.

“From the challenging cornice entrance to the narrow choke halfway down, Chute 75 is a challenge for any advanced skier.”

Watch out for: Heavy vert.

Rating: Black diamond


94. Hourglass Chute, Alta, Utah

Steep slopes limit Hourglass to intermediate and advanced skiers.

It’s narrow, but wide enough to fit a few turns to control your speed.

Watch out for: Narrowness.

Rating: Black diamond


93. Hidden Valley, Cortina, Italy

Many European resorts have “hidden valleys,” but this one is special.

A 20-minute bus ride from the center of Cortina, the 2,750-meter descent snakes past frozen waterfalls.

At the bottom, horse-pulled lifts return skiers to the start of the Sella Ronda circuit.

Watch out for: Chanel-clad skiers aching to be seen.

Rating: Red


92. No. 3, Mount Hermon Ski Resort, Israel

Mount Herman is known as the Eyes of the Nation because of the views into Syria from the summit.

The journey to Israel’s only ski resort is interesting, passing cordoned-off mine fields.

The nature reserve that surrounds the resort makes it a beautiful place to ski, and the views from No. 3 are glorious.

Watch out for: Mines and military training.

Rating: Red

91. The Back Corries, Nevis Range, Scotland

It can get cold in Scotland, but the views are fantastic.

When the conditions are good, you can simply point your skis – or snowboard – downhill and let gravity do the rest.

The views are superb.

Watch out for: Wind.

Rating: Red and black


90. Burnt Stew Trail, Whistler, British Columbia

This mellow, eight-mile ribbon has amazing views over Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Watch out for: The best views of Garibaldi Provincial Park in Canada.

Rating: Green


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89. Straight Shot, Powder Mountain, Utah

This steep powder chute located directly beneath the Paradise lift is a favorite with snowboarders for its consistently steep pitch, rock jumps and cliffs.

Watch out for: Exposed hazards.

Rating: Black diamond


88. Scarlett’s, Aspen Highlands, Colorado

“This is a wide, intermediate bump run off of the Cloud Nine ski lift,” says snow sports journalist and founder of ski blog braveskimom.com Kristen Lummis.

“Scarlett’s has a moderate, even pitch with well-spaced bumps. You feel like a freestyle champion as you bash through them.

“The run terminates at the Cloud Nine restaurant, where you can sit outside and watch the action.”

Watch out for: Crowds outside Cloud Nine who laugh uproariously when you stack it.

Rating: Green


87. West Cirque, Whistler, British Columbia

This is pro skier and Rossignol athlete Dan Treadway’s favorite run.

“It holds some of the best snow and is steep with some fun spines to ski,” he says. “It also leads you into my second favorite run, which is called Christmas Trees.”

Watch out for: Branches.

Rating: Double black diamond.


86. Grande Combe, Jebel Attar, Oukaimeden, Morocco

Africa’s highest ski resort is located 10,000 feet above sea level, 80 kilometers from Marrakech.

The resort is one of the world’s most bizarre places to ski or snowboard – there’s just one chairlift but locals often opt for a donkey ride to the top of the ungraded runs, the majority of which start from the peak of Jebel Attar.

A steep mogul field, Grande Combe offers the best terrain at the resort.

Watch out for: The donkey ski lift.

Rating: Ungraded

85. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Zermatt, Switzerland

Getting to this run involves a ride on the lift of the same name, one of the highest cable cars in Europe.

Through the tunnel near the lift’s exit you emerge to spectacular views over the Matterhorn.

From here, it’s an eight-mile descent that drops 2,200 vertical meters.

Watch out for: Bad weather.

Rating: Red


84. Vallon d’Arby, Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier -- land of postcard views.

This one puts powder seekers in their element.

It’s marked as an official run on the ski map, but can still be tackled when it’s closed, if you’re with a guide.

The second half opens up to reveal several powder bowls and tree-lined sections, before finishing in the village of La Tzoumaz.

Watch out for: Getting lost.

Rating: Black


83. Olympiabakken course, Kvitfjell, Norway

This run was used for the downhill event at the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Although it’s rated black, on powder days it’s suitable for intermediate skiers.

Various jumps can be bypassed and the slow corners and numerous straight sections mean that there’s plenty of time to take in the view over the Jotunheimen Mountains.

Watch out for: Jumps – they demand a lot if you hit them.

Rating: Black


82. Bräma schwer, Jakobshorn-Teufi, Davos, Switzerland

Few runs in the Jakobshorn ski area are groomed, which makes the whole place a favorite with advanced skiers.

Bräma schwer is an ungroomed run through varied terrain that gets terrific powder stashes and holds snow well into spring, thanks to an optimal northeastern exposure throughout winter.

Watch out for: Sneaky powder.

Rating: Red and black


81. Kill the Banker, Revelstoke, British Columbia

“Kill the Banker at Revelstoke Mountain Resort has to be one of the most fun runs in the world,” says pro skier and Dynastar athlete Sean Cochrane.

“It has some of the steepest cliffs known to man while technically being out of bounds, but it’s located directly beneath the gondola, so you’re never too far from hearing the cheers from your peers.”

Watch out for: Cliffs.

Rating: Double black diamond


80. Saslong, Val Gardena, Italy

Here’s a good place for airtime.

The middle section contains a series of three jumps, the center one of which can be cleared if you approach at high speed.

Watch out for: Coming up short when trying to clear the middle jump.

Rating: Black


79. Ross Gold, Blackcomb, British Columbia

The Solar Coaster Express leads to this run, named after pro snowboarder Ross Rebagliati.

It’s often closed for race training but is suitable for intermediates.

The even pitch makes it ideal for practicing high-speed turns.

Watch out for: Blunt edges.

Rating: Black diamond


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78. Piste 38, Kitzbühel, Austria

Locals like to claim this as the world’s most spectacular ski run.

The bad news is there’s little time to take in the view, because the gradient reaches 70% at several spots.

For experts only.

Watch out for: Speed.

Rating: Black


77. Combe du Vallon, Meribel, France

Off piste but on course for some great powder, at Meribel.

A great run to end the day on, thanks to crazy views of Mottaret and Tueda Lake.

A flat section at the bottom means there might be some walking involved, but the scenery should keep you interested.

Watch out for: A long flat section.

Rating: Red


76. Whispering Jesse, Snowmass, Colorado

It has space and it’s easygoing.

“Whispering Jesse incorporates terrain shifts, detours through widely spaced glades and outstanding grooming as it makes its way down from the top of the Big Burn,” says snow sports journalist Kristen Lummis.

“It’s the type of ego-boosting run that makes Snowmass famous.”

Watch out for: Overconfidence.

Rating: Blue


75. Hugh’s Heaven, Blackcomb, British Columbia

Blackcomb’s Seventh Heaven area is popular with intermediate skiers and snowboarders, and Hugh’s Heaven, located above the tree line, offers views to Whistler on sunny days.

Access is via the Solar Coaster Express.

Watch out for: Ski school crowds.

Rating: Blue


74. Forcella Rossa, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

The women’s World Cup uses this experts-only run – it has rocky canyons in the first half followed by several long, steep sections.

Watch out for: Great scenery.

Rating: Black


73. The Cut, Grouse Mountain, British Columbia

Located 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, skiers and snowboarders on this run get breathtaking views over the city.

It’s open for night skiing.

Watch out for: Vancouver.

Rating: Green


72. Crystal Ridge, Diamond Peak, California

At Lake Tahoe, the runs with the best views are mostly suited to advanced skiers, but this one is good for beginners and intermediates.

Watch out for: Snowflake Lodge – good place for a break.

Rating: Blue


71. So Long, Alta, Utah

Pro skier Brody Leven loves Alta’s So Long run for its variety.

“After traveling to the far corner of the resort and up the Supreme lift, a really short sidestep puts you on top of a long run with more options and features than I’ve seen anywhere else,” says Brody.

“It’s that one run that will stick out in your memory, and you’ll look back on it with pride.”

Watch out for: Varied terrain.

Rating: Black diamond


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70. The Bite, Whistler, British Columbia

“My favorite run on Whistler Blackcomb is The Bite,” says pro skier and Rossignol athlete Logan Pehota. “It’s the first run I go to every time it snows.”

Watch out for: Powder.

Rating: Black diamond


69. Canalone Miramonti, Madonna di Campiglio, Italy

 Madonna di Campiglio hosted the Ski World Cup Men's Slalom in 2012.

With sharp bends and major variations in slope gradient, this run keeps the best skiers and snowboarders on their toes.

Floodlit for night skiing, the run ends in the heart of a pretty Italian resort.

Watch out for: Tight turns.

Rating: Black


68. Misoshiru, Niseko, Japan

Misoshiru means “miso soup,” and like the soup, this run is different every time you try it.

It’s a long, un-groomed black run that finishes in Niseko – perfect for those wanting to improve their technical skills.

Watch out for: Complacency. It always throws something new your way.

Rating: Black


67. North Face, Alyeska, Alaska

This is North America’s longest continuous double black diamond run.

Watch out for: Fearless locals who were skiing before they were walking.

Rating: Double black diamond


66. Aguille Rouge, Les Arcs, France

From the highest point in the resort, the Aiguille Rouge (Red Needle) descends 2,000 meters to the hamlet of Villaroger.

It’s rated black at the top, but mellows into a red a third of the way down.

Watch out for: Wine-filled skiers oblivious to others.

Rating: Red and black


65. Couloir Croix des Verdons, Courchevel, France

Located 50 meters from the top of the Saulire cable car, this challenging, off-piste run is steep but not in a death-defying way.

It remains relatively crowd-free through winter.

Watch out for: Cocky skiers and snowboarders who aren’t as good as they think they are.

Rating: Unrated


64. Jerusalem, Méribel, France

This is a long, undulating rollercoaster run on the Saint Martin de Belleville side of Meribel.

The village where the run finishes is one of the prettiest in the Three Valleys region – a good spot for lunch.

Watch out for: Bumps and rollers.

Rating: Red


63. Eclipse/Luna, Valle Nevado, Chile

South America’s largest ski resort has one of its craziest (and funnest) runs.

The black Eclipse run starts at the peak of the Cima Andes mountain (3,483 meters), hurls you down a steep snowy cliff before leveling off into the red Luna run.

That ends at a restaurant where you can ingest a few calories before taking the Andes Express cable car back to the top to start over.

Rating: Black and red


62. The Swiss Wall, Avoriaz, France

The “For Experts Only” sign at the top tells you that this is one of the steepest descents in the Alps.

It’s just 200 meters long, so if you fall, there’s not (that) far to go.

Watch out for: The end. There’s little room to burn off speed.

Rating: Black


61. Holiday, Niseko, Japan

Plenty of room for all at Niseko in Japan.

The Grand Hirafu ski area is popular for night skiing.

This easy, crowd-free run is accessed via the King Triple Lift #3 and located at the bottom of the red-rated Rinkan run.

Watch out for: Other skiers in the dark.

Rating: Green


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60. L’Aigle Noir, Morzine France

This one looks tame but it’s open to the elements – gale-force winds and huge moguls.

Watch out for: Big bumps.

Rating: Black


59. Tortin, Verbier, Switzerland

After a heavy snowfall, powder seekers flock to this north-facing run.

Large moguls quickly form and it can become one of Switzerland’s tougher descents.

Watch out for: Fatigue.

Rating: Black


58. Lauberhorn, Wengen, Switzerland

Part of the World Cup Downhill ski racing circuit, this is a test of both stamina and technical ability.

Watch out for: Staying upright.

Rating: Black


57. Grand Paradis, Avoriaz, France

Winding through a valley below the spectacular peaks of the Dents du Midi, this picturesque run takes you from one of the highest points in the area all the way to the town of Chambery.

Watch out for: Mountain goats, especially in spring.

Rating: Red


56. Bear Run, Fernie, British Columbia

This tiny resort gets a ridiculous amount of snow, which makes Fernie’s long gentle cruisers – like Bear Run – great fun, especially on a powder day.

Watch out for: Visibility, which can deteriorate rapidly.

Rating: Blue


55. Grizzly Gully, Lake Louise, Alberta

Grizzly Gully is ranked blue, but the range of terrain, which includes powder-filled bowls, trees and chutes, means you can choose routes that are suited to your skill level.

Watch out for: Bears.

Rating: Blue


54. Outer Limits, Killington, Vermont

Kelly Marren rides the half pipe during the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix in 2009 in Killington, Vermont.

This is the longest, steepest mogul run in the eastern United States.

The starting point is at the top of Bear Mountain.

Watch out for: Never-ending moguls.

Rating: Double black diamond


53. Meribel World Cup Downhill, Meribel, France

“There’s no better piste than the one used for Meribel’s World Cup Downhill course,” says Dave Edwards, CEO of the British Ski and Snowboard governing body.

“It’s fast, long and at its best early morning, just after it’s been groomed. I like to get up there early and watch the sun come up over the mountains and see the course come out of shadow and into sunlight as the racers inspect the course.”

Watch out for: Shadows.

Rating: Blue


52. Roca Jack, Portillo, Chile

One of the South America’s best resorts, Portillo on the dramatic Inca Lagoon, is renowned for big mountain runs.

The expert-level Roca Jack – accessed by a high-elevation tow rope – shows off that gargantuan terrain. The nearby Garganta run is another worthy monster.

Particularly on powder days, the wide-open run – shouldered by massive peaks – delivers the best buzz in Portillo, outside a bottle of Carmenere.

Watch out for: Not much – this is “vista” skiing.

Rating: Expert


(The original version of this story listed Austria’s Harakiri run – #28 – twice and inadvertently left out Portillo’s Roca Jack at #52. The error has been corrected. —Ed.)

51. La Face, Val d’Isere, France

“This notorious 1992 Winter Olympics downhill run is steep and often covered in moguls the size of cars,” says Nicola Iseard, editor of the UK’s Fall Line magazine.

“It took Olympic gold medalist Patric Ortlieb a mere two minutes to ski from top to bottom. It’s probably best to not try and beat his time.”

Watch out for: The bottom, which appears out of nowhere.

Rating: Black


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50. Cascades, Flaine, France

The 14-kilometer Cascades run is the longest blue run in France.

The adventure starts at Les Grandes Platières in Flaine, 2,500 meters above sea level.

From there it’s a long gentle cruise all the way home to the parking lot, where a free shuttle bus awaits.

To break up the journey, the Gers Lake restaurant has a huge terrace and serves great raclette.

Watch out for: The shuttle bus timetable – if you miss the last bus, getting back to the main resort can be tricky.

Rating: Blue


49. Sarenne, Alpe d’Huez, France

With a length of more than 17 kilometers and a total drop of 2,000 meters, this is the longest black run in the French Alps.

From the starting point at the top of Pic Blanc, there are stunning views over dozens of peaks.

The top section is the steepest, but a detour allows intermediates to bypass the mogul field at the top.

Watch out for: The top section. It’s steeper than it looks.

Rating: Black


48. Alta Zero, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

In a recent poll of Wyoming skiers, this topped the list as one of the steepest, scariest runs in the state.

Watch out for: Your skis – if your bindings pop open, they’ll be a distant memory.

Rating: Double black diamond


47. Sella Ronda, Dolomites, Italy

This is more like a long-distance circuit than a ski run.

The 16-kilometer route passes below limestone crags, through alpine meadows and mountain villages.

Several ski lifts provide a chance to take in the view.

Watch out for: Alpine villages.

Rating: Blue/red


46. No 60, Curnius, Laax, Switzerland

Laax -- long runs, high quality.

Pro skier Chris McCormick cites No 60 as one of his favorites.

“This is because of how long the run is, but every feature is of really high quality,” he says.

Watch out for: Sudden changes in grade.

Rating: Red


45. Paradise, Mad River Glen, Vermont

This experts-only run is filled with obstacles.

To start, there’s a five-meter cliff drop followed by a narrow, ungroomed trail that snakes around boulders and trees.

Watch out for: The cliff drop.

Rating: Black diamond


44. Grand Couloir, Courchevel, France

Getting to this ridiculously steep run is a challenge in itself – after riding up the Saulire Télépherique cable car, you have to creep along a narrow, icy, 200-meter-long ridge.

The run consists of an extremely steep chute then a huge, mogul-filled powder field.

Watch out for: Ice.

Rating: Black


43. Rambo, Crested Butte, Colorado

Once you commit to this 300-meter run with a 55-degree pitch, there’s no going back.

For steep terrain, it’s one of the best runs in the United States.

Watch out for: Other skiers and snowboarders. It gets crowded.

Rating: Double black diamond


42. Ridge Runner, Whistler, British Columbia

This intermediate-level, tree-lined run is wide, fun and skirts the edge of the resort, where crowds are rare.

Watch out for: Bears, especially in March when they’re emerging from hibernation.

Rating: Blue


41. The Hahnenkamm, Kitzbühel, Austria

This spectacular Austrian run (also known as the Streif) is widely regarded as the world’s toughest, and is the setting for World Cup downhill races each winter.

The three-kilometer run isn’t as scary as you might think, but on race day the red-rated slope is injected with water to turn it into a sheet of ice.

The rest of the year it’s significantly less scary. It’s so wide that sections can be skirted.

Watch out for: Speed.

Rating: Black


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40. Casserousse, Chamrousse, France

The favorite run of Marion Josserand (ski cross bronze medalist in Vancouver 2010) can be found at a tiny resort in the French Alps.

“My top slope is Casse Rousse, 1,700 meters above sea level,” says Marion. “It’s very long and located in a hidden part of the ski resort, so it’s never busy. Because of its north face, the snow is always fresh and good.

“On this slope, you can find everything: flats, bumps, trees and, of course, steep parts. It’s a little bit like my secret garden.”

Watch out for: Powder stashes on the edges.

Rating: Black


39. Bernadein, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Here’s a great morning warmup run.

With its shady, high position (the run starts at 2,050 meters) snow conditions are almost always great, and the views over the mountains greater.

Watch out for: Late afternoon ice.

Rating: Red