10 Ski & Snowboard Runs You Need to Ride Before You Die
Massive vertical drops, terrifying cliff face descents and spectacular on-piste tree runs.
There's been various attempts at a snowboarding bucket list through the years, most of them include stuff like having sex on a chair lift or downing a bottle of cheap french wine in record time. Now we don't want to seem prudish at MPORA but there seemed like a real lack of riding involved.
In an attempt to right this wrong we've collected together the ten runs you need to hit before you die falling out a chair lift trying to get your end away with a chalet girl. So without further adieu we'll get stuck in.
[part title="Corbett's Couloir, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming, USA"]
A drop into the three-metre-wide 50-degree sluiceway on top of Jackson’s Hole is one of the most famous runs in snowboarding. The access is easy, courtesy of the new cable-car up Rendezvous Mountain, and to be honest the actual run isn’t that challenging.
However, it is the start that has made Corbett's a rite of passage. The only way to get into the couloir is by a five metre vertical-drop from a stationary position. Any mistakes here are punished by a cliff face or large sharp boulders, and any pain added to by public humiliation — courtesy of the crowds that watch every drop. Make it through though, and a sweet powder run, lifetime achievement, hero status and free beer awaits.
Corbett's Couloir Video:
[part title="The Back Bowls, Niseko, Japan"]
There is no place as powder-sure as Niseko, Japan, with an average accumulation of six inches a day of dry powder in January. While Niseko's on-piste tree runs are famous for their deep powder, it is the gate-accessed back bowls — the highest of which stands at 550-metres — that stand as one of snowboarding’s true holy powder grails - just you, your mates and a bottomless bowl of untracked fresh snow to do want you want with. There is simply nowhere else on the planet like it.
Back Bowls Video:
[part title="The Vallée Blanche, Chamonix, France"]
This may be a risky addition to the list, given the mellow nature of the descent and the load of traversing that is required, but there is no 19 km run in the world that offers this much scenic joy and a truer sense of free alpine spirit.
After walking out the narrow ridge of the Aiguille du Midi, you traverse beneath hulking the Mont Blanc, turn left after the spire of Gros Rognon, skirt the ice blocks of the Sérac du Géant, and turn left again near the fangs of Les Grands Charmoz. An hour or so later you’ll be sitting in bar, with a cold beer or hot coffee in downtown Chamonix knowing you have just managed something pretty special.
[part title="Delirium Dive, Banff, Alberta, Canada"]
Delirium Dive is a world-renowned classic steep slope on Goat's Eye Mountain, in one of the three ski areas of Banff/Lake Louise. The Dive is a backcountry bowl accessed by lifts. The ski patrol however, ensure you wear an avalanche transceiver and carry a shovel and probe before you are allowed on the lift. Yep, this is serious stuff.
Once you’ve worked up the courage to drop in, you’ll be faced with a sick bowl and a choice of exits. On a powder day and with blue skies, Delirium offers you a spectacular backcountry experience, all be it with a chairlift back to the famed Lake Louise pistes.
Delirium Dive Video:
[part title="Piste 4, Riksgränsen, Sweden"]
A giant natural terrain park located in the Arctic Circle. Come spring, the resort of Riksgränsen comes to life with an assorted mess of skiers and snowboarders lapping up the long days, strong beer, midnight sun and incredible freestyle terrain.
From the 909-metre summit, you look down on one giant terrain park with endless natural lumps and bumps to hit. Piste 4 is the most famous of the runs and comes with the novelty of a quick trip to Norway about halfway down.
[part title="Sun Valley Warm Springs, Idaho, USA"]
Idaho’s two-mile-long, top-to-bottom screamer charges straight through a natural gully with banked sidewalls before opening up to the width of a motorway. The gully is wide, uncrowded, perfectly groomed and maintains an average pitch of 35 degrees, without a single blind turn to slow you down.
With an uninterrupted 600-metres of vertical descent and 300 sunny days a year — all aided by ridiculously generous snow making — you can start to see why Warm Springs has a cult following.
Sun Valley Video:
[part title="Couloirs des Fréaux, La Grave, France"]
France’s La Grave offers the largest untamed, off-piste riding in Europe. A hardcore and legendary spot, where guides are mandatory. The combination of north and northeast facing slopes and high altitude supply deep powder often from Christmas through to May.
The Couloirs des Fréaux is one of La Grave's toughest runs, which features a long, narrow couloir that goes from the top station in La Grave, past Vachier Lake, into a narrow gully and ends up in village of Les Freaux. It is 800-metres of pure fear and adrenalin, and known as one of the world’s most challenging, but rewarding, runs.
Couloirs des Fréaux Video:
[part title="Cornice Bowl, Mammoth, California, USA"]
The Cornice Bowl is one of Mammoth's most famous runs. Located at the top of the mountain, the views from the top are spectacular, but it's the narrow chutes into the bowl that make this a legendary run.
The bowl is often filled with powder, either from fresh falls or from Mammoth’s famous wind buff, and if you drop in off a snarling lip of snow and nail your first turn (they have to be precise) the Cornice Bowl offers some of the best snow, fastest lines and best scenery in North America.
Cornice Bowl Video:
[part title="The Stash, Avoriaz, France"]
This Avoriaz slope is part-tree run, part-terrain park. It features jib-fest of tree trunks, natural obstacles, cliff drops, huge tree rides and wall rides, set among three routes that cut through the forest.
At a one and half kilometres long, and with a vertical drop of around 500-metres, the tree run is spectacular in its own right, but the fantastic natural wooden features that you can session all way through has put The Stash into a unique league of its own.
The Stash Video:
[part title="Barry Barry Steep, Snowbird, Utah, USA"]
One of the best tree runs in the United States, this intermediate-level run winds through snow-dusted conifers. Part of the attraction of Barry Barry Steep, a northwest-facing tree line that is scary, steep and long, is that is generally ignored by the masses.
As such, you’ll have Barry to yourself — it’s long, twisting fall line and perfectly spaced trees making it one of the truly great tree runs in snowboarding. And as Snowbird averages approximately 13-metres of unusually low-density, dry powder annually, snow shouldn’t be a problem.