If you are in search of the most challenging in-bounds terrain in North America, look no further. Whistler Blackcomb has some insanely gnarly and notoriously challenging marked and unmarked inbounds runs for you to check off your steep skiing bucket list. Even professional skiers and riders can get an adrenaline fix on Whistlers in-bounds terrain.
Blackcomb Mountain is home to some of the most insane steep skiing, cliffs and chutes. (Check out Blackcomb’s steepest runs HERE) BUT Whistler Mountains lineup is nothing to gawk at. The Peak Chair zone on Whistler Mountain is home to the most famous lines and cliffs on the hill including the elusive Coffin Chute and the monstrous Air Jordan double cliff drop.
If you’re a skier or snowboarder who is not out to explode your ACL’s (most of us) don’t worry! There are plenty of marked runs, chutes and steeps on Whistler mountain that still make anyones stomach churn.
The resort trail map only shows the double black diamond runs. These runs are intense! However some of the unmarked routes I’m going to share in this post are Triple Blacks and should only be attempted by expert skiers in ideal conditions.
Fortunately all of these marked and unmarked runs are within the bounds of the resort and are avalanche controlled. This does not mean that avalanches are impossible, small slides happen all the time and can make dangerous terrain even more dangerous. However, you can have more confidence charging down these big mountain lines than you would in the Backcountry.
All of the runs listed below are for expert skiers. Don’t attempt these runs in white out, storm conditions or if they are closed by patrol! Make sure you are skiing with friends and remember it’s always a good idea to spot the line from the bottom before you commit to skiing it.
Whistler is an extremely hard mountain to navigate, especially when the clouds move in. If you are a steep skiing addict like me you need to take advantage of those precious days when the skies are clear and snow is just right.
This post will provide details on the steepest, most challenging and craziest lines you can conquer the next time you visit Whistler Blackcomb.
These runs are no joke so don’t forget to wear your brain bucket! I swear by my Smith Vantage Helmet and IOS Goggles. Another fantastic and super affordable option is the OM Diamond Snow Helmet & OM Ultra XL Goggles. Keep your brain and eyes protected all day long!! (Use code JAMES10 for a 10% discount on anything on the OM website)
Steepest/Hardest Marked Runs on Whistler Mountain
The following runs can all be found on the Whistler Trail Map. They are all rated as double blacks and have varying levels of difficulty, exposure and terrain traps.
Located at the top of the peak express chair above the glacier bowl. Get off the peak chair and hang a left on Matthews Traverse. The Cirque is the first sign up to the left and often has rope warnings before the entrance. The drop in and first few turns are very challenging. You have to conquer a steep, icy and rocky entrance before you get the meat and potatoes. Trust me, it’s steep, commiting and can feel scary. This is a ‘No Fall Zone’ as you do not want to pop out of your skis and stumble down the cliffs to skiers left. Once you navigate the first portion you are going to enjoy some of the most remarkable snow in the Glacier Bowl. The cirque is very wind protected and the snow tends to hold real nice in there.
Located at the top of the peak chair above the glacier bowl. Get off the peak chair and hang a left on Matthews Traverse. Look for the Couloir signs to skiers left (it is the second run on the left). The entrance is the trickiest part of this line. You have to drop in off a small cornice (the size changes depending on the time of the season and snowfall). The start is typically hard packed and you will need to focus on your first few turns. Then you will be rewarded with great turns down a steep and wide chute which opens up to the phenomenal glacier bowl where you can control your speed and lay down some huge carving pow turns. The entrance to the couloir is tougher than the cirque so I would recommend tackling cirque before you take on the couloir.
Located on the Peak Express chair. Get off the peak chair and head right on the peak to creek trail. Keep your eyes peeled to the right for the quick hike marking the beginning of the run. The west cirque is around 44° average slope but the drop in at the top can almost feel vertical on days with less snow, involving the dodging of many rocks. The top part is the steepest and once you finish this section you have the option to head to the West bowl, Whistler bowl or blaze your own trail. I would recommend hanging a left under the cliff bands on the traverse known as ‘Sneaky Pete’. Ride along the West Ridge and drop into the trees down to the left. I like to call this one Christmas Trees. The West Cirque and Christmas tree combo is one of my absolute favourites on Whistler Mountain.
If you are looking for an entrance with even more of a bang you can try the West Cirque high entrance! This involves jumping off a cornice and into the West Cirque from the skiers right side. It’s a little tricky finding the high entrance so find a local to lead you in 🙂
Whistler Bowl via Lifties Leap or Whistler Cornice Entrance
Whistler Bowl is one of the most fabulous pitches to ski on a fresh snow day. It is also one of the quickest places to become skied out on a powder day. More often than not, you will find monster moguls scattered across the bowl. The normal entrance to the Whistler Bowl is simple and the run itself isn’t stomach dropping steep. To spice the Whistler Bowl up a little bit opt to drop in from lefties leap or Whistler Cornice.
Lifties Leap is a steep roll behind the hut and was named after a former lift operator Len Letain. The Whistler cornice is even more gnarly. You can see it to your left as you approach the top of the peak chair. To get to the entrance walk to the right of the cell tower and mound. This cornice can be pretty hairy and sometimes is just straight down. If you drop in from the Whistler Cornice and continue on the right side of Whistler bowl you will enjoy a great steep fall line and less moguls.
Mondays, Cockalorum, Stefans Chute (West Bowl)
All three of these chutes are very steep and finish in the legendary West Bowl. West Bowl is one of the most expansive open bowls in all of Whistler Blackcomb. Mondays is the highest entrance into the West bowl and is very steep involving dropping in off a small cornice. Cockalorum has a less sustained fall line than Mondays but is more adventurous due to required cornice jump to enter into the bowl. Stefans Chute is a steep chute between two rocks and is a great steep chute to try out that doesn’t involve a sketchy entrance.
The Harmony Ridge is the big corniced ridge you see to the left above the open bowl when riding up the Harmony Ridge Express. There are 8 marked routes known as the Harmony Horseshoes. Horseshoe 5 (H5) is the steepest, scariest and most intense of them all. You can either sneak down the cornice through the middle of the two rocks or shoot through the extremely small crack between the rocks on the far right. The snow beneath the entrance of H5 is phenomenal (just watch out for avalanche debris and death cookies).
Steepest/Hardest Unmarked Inbound Runs on Whistler Mountain
If you want to truly master the mountain and become the king of Whistler steeps you are going to need to shred some of the most insane lines. These lines are not marked on the trail map but are in-bounds and frequently skied.
Please Note: All of the runs named below are inbounds and are not PC (Permanently Closed areas). Respect boundary ropes and permanently closed areas as they pose serious hazard for you and others on the mountain. Trust me, the list of these inbounds runs are so challenging that many Whistler skiers will never attempt them in their entire lives. They will surely give any mountain thrill seeker the adrenaline rush they are looking for.
This one is most definitely a triple black diamond. Exhilaration lives up to its name and is extremely steep and narrow. If you have a long set of skis it may be pretty hard to get enough jump turns in. There needs to be a couple solid storms before there is enough snow cover on the rocks and it is skiable. Turning can be tough in the chute, I’ve seen skiers bomb the whole thing straight down. They were only able to slow down because their gigantic balls were dragging down the mountain.
To access Exhilaration ski right off the Harmony chair and hike up the ridge to the right. There is usually a well worn boot back up to the top. Exhilaration is the first line down closest to the chair.
Excitation is the next skiable line over from Exhilaration. It is super steep, and tight, with a big rock running along the top left part of the line. If you are planning to ski Exhilaration I would recommend trying Excitation first. It is equally as steep but is a tad wider so you can find out through trial and error if you have what it takes to ski Exhilaration. Excitation is slightly easier than Exhilaration and allows skiers to take more turns down the face.
The remainder of the ridge is known as Glacier Wall & Dilemma you can jump it at any point off the wall that looks skiable but trust me, these entrances are only for steeps experts when the conditions are reasonable. These lines need to be taken seriously, they are absolutely triple blacks.
The Flute bowl is a hike accessed inbounds bowl skiing paradise that has a remote backcountry feel. The terrain in the flute bowl is North Facing, holds unbelievable snow and has loads of line choices of varying difficulties to choose from before attack its beautiful slope. The steepest lines are known as the “flute chutes” they are located in the bowl below the blue circle marking the start of Encore Ridge.
You can choose your own adventure on flute and create lines of varying difficulties and steepness. The patrol do avalanche control so you don’t have to bring avi gear if you plan on a flute adventure. There is only one groomed up track (the musical bumps trail) which skiers can hike to the top and no marked runs down.
To access Flute head to the top of the Symphony Express chair. Take a left and ski between Piccilo and Flute and locate the groomed up track. If you can’t see the up track when skiing down to it, the visibility is probably to poor to attempt flute anyways. When exiting Flute locate the exit track which is marked with bamboo poles with florescent circles. Note: You cannot ski down to the base from the bottom of the Symphony Chair. If you miss the last symphony chair you will have to hike 30 minutes up the rescue road to get to Harmony Ridge.
Sun Bowl Chutes
The Sun bowl is located off the back of the Harmony Ridge Chair leading towards the Symphony Ridge Chair. The Sun Bowl zone faces to the East, which means that it is the first spot to soften up in the spring or have its powder snow ruined by the hot afternoon sun rays. To access the sun bowl take a left off the Harmony chair and watch for the Sun Bowl Signs to the right. On the right side of the main stem of the sun bowl there are some steep and rocky chutes and cliff drops which you can play around on. Make sure to try Sun Bowl first and spot out any of the lines first before you ski them.
The coffin is the most legendary ‘freeride’ line on the mountain. The coffin is situated right beneath the peak chair and you can scope it out as you ride up the lift. It is a super skinny chute that can only be skied by dropping straight down it and taking your first turn in the bowl below to reduce your speed. There is a mandatory small cliff drop at the top if you want to ski the line in the classic fashion. Otherwise you can ski in and around the drop and bomb through the coffin. In my opinion, depending on the conditions, climbing up to it is actually spookier than skiing down it.
This is a sweet little chute involving a small drop at the top that is located between Kaleidoscope and Low Roll. The tight chute sneaks between the rocks and cliffs and you can take a few jump turns as you near the bottom. The chute is very rocky at the start of the season so you may have to wait until there is a mid/late season base to rip this one.
The Elevator (West Ridge Chutes)
Elevator is a spooky line that drops between the rocks off the West Ridge. Elevator can be accessed by skiing West Cirque or Whistler bowl and traversing across the Whistler bowl and riding along the West ridge. Elevator is the second line between the rocks along the ridge. It is a very spooky, steep and rocky line that requires solid snowfall before attacking it.
Safety First Skiing Second
Hopefully I’ve helped provide you with a deeper knowledge about how to ski and access some of the most insane terrain in Whistler Blackcomb.
These runs are insanely fun but they need to be taken seriously.
Please remember to be safe and always ski to the conditions and your ability level.
Always wear a brain bucket AKA a HELMET. I swear by my Smith Vantage Helmet and IOS Goggles. Another fantastic and super affordable option is the OM Diamond Snow Helmet & OM Ultra XL Goggles. Keep your brain and eyes protected all day long!! (Use code JAMES10 for a 10% discount on anything on the OM website)
Once you’ve checked all of the steepest lines on Whistler off your bucket list. Why not try the most extreme runs on Blackcomb. Check out the post HERE.
Happy Steep Skiing!