3 Most Challenging Resorts Serviced by Ski Butlers
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY (JHMR)
It’s no secret at this point that Jackson has some of, if not the most, challenging in-bounds terrain of any North American ski resort. JHMR boasts 2,500 acres of in-bounds skiable terrain, 4,139 vertical feet from top to bottom and 116 recognized trails (50% of which are considered to be expert.)
The best way to experience as much of this terrain as possible is by riding the Aerial Tram, nicknamed Big Red. Within a 9 minute ride, Big Red will have you standing atop the resort at an elevation of 10,450 feet ready to tackle the steeps. Now all you have to do is choose which direction to go. It is important to note that however you decide to get back to the bottom you are going to have an amazing time, but a couple of our personal favorites include; Rendezvous Bowl and Corbet’s Couloir.
Rendezvous Bowl is a high elevation, open face, which in spots is considerably steep. Depending on the snow conditions, you can either rip open Giant Slalom style turns through powder or may be required to pick your way through a mogul field to get the bottom of the face. Either way, it is generally a challenging, exposed run that offers incredible views of the adjacent mountains and valley below. To access the Rendezvous bowl you go directly to skier’s right after exiting the tram.
Corbet’s Couloir may be the most famous, recognizable trail at JHMR due to the 10 foot mandatory cliff drop to access the rest of the run. On its best days it allows skiers to make the drop onto pillowy powder below before exiting the chute to the open face below. On its worst days, it is a veritable death trap that requires skiers and riders to plunge off the drop onto an ice sheet. On all days Corbet’s couloir is a no fall zone and should only be fated by skiers with highly technical abilities. Too see what we mean, check out this video.
Snowbird is known for three things, steep terrain, deep powder and being 35 minutes form a major international airport. For the destination skier looking for a combination of excellent snow and terrain, you really don’t need to look any further. Similar to Jackson Hole, one of the signature features of Snowbird is the Arial Tram, which takes skiers and riders to the top of Hidden Peak, elevation 11,000 feet, in about 8 minutes. From the top of the tram you can access almost the entire mountain. As far as getting down goes, two of our personal favorites for when looking for great snow and steep terrain are Upper Baldy and Tiger Tail.
To access Upper Baldy, you will go directly to the skier’s right after exiting the tram. From there you will have to click out of your skis for about a 10 minute boot pack across the High Baldy Traverse. Once your back in your skis there are a variety of options for the descent, including West Baldy Chutes, Fields of Glory and Thanks for the Memories. All three options offer steep, fall-line skiing as well as great views of Mt Superior across Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Tiger Tail is an area of the mountain that is great for those who love tree skiing. To access Tiger Tail you will need to ride the new Gad II quad chair and go directly to the skier’s left once exiting. Stay on the high traverse and meander through the trees until you find a line that looks ideal. The best part of the Tiger Tail area is that it spends most of the day in the shade so the snow is always in excellent condition.
Squaw Valley, CA
Squaw Valley has a place in skiing lore like no other resort. When you think of sun, snow, steeps and skiing in the 80s, you’re thinking of Squaw Valley.
Squaw Valley boasts over 450 inches of snow annually, 3,600 skiable acres and six distinct peaks to choose from.
The KT-22 chair is a must when visiting Squaw. The chair rises 1,767 vertical feet to an area that does not offer an “easiest way down.” Some of our recommendations for the descent include G.S. Bowl, chute 75 and Mosley’s (named after Olympic Gold Medalist Johnny Moseley who grew up skiing Squaw.) Each of these trails are considered to be expert terrain only so you may want to leave the little ones at the bottom.
For the risk takers wanting to push their limits or for those who would prefer to watch others push their limits, head to The Palisades. The Palisades consist of several sizable cliffs with narrow, steep chutes between them. To access the Palisades you will want to ride the Siberian Express lift and take the 10-15 minute boot pack out to skier’s right once exiting the chair. Similar to Corbet’s Couloir, The Palisades are for skiers with expert technical skills only. It is important to note that the Palisades generally do not open during the weekends as a way to avoid large crowds building up in the run out area.
No matter which resort you choose to ski, even if it is not on this list, you are sure to be able to find some excellent terrain that will challenge the most experienced skiers. It is just a matter of asking the friendly local on the chair and when you do get to the terrain, always proceed with caution and make sure to be wearing your helmet! And of course, if something get's in your way, turn!