Whistler Blackcomb is home to the most challenging in-bounds terrain in North America. From vertical chutes to massive cliff drops Whistler Blackcomb has some insanely gnarly and notoriously challenging marked and unmarked terrain you need to check off your steep skiing bucket list.
In terms of steep skiing and INSANE in-bounds terrain Blackcomb has Whistler beat. There are numerous unmarked lines that look near impossible to ski and will surely scare the S**T out of anyone who has the balls to attempt them. The runs below (especially the unmarked runs) are absolutely mental and only suited to those with some serious grit, guts and steep skiing experience.
The resort trail map only shows the double black diamond runs. Although these runs are very intense, you can get an even more insane thrill by trying out some of the unmarked triple black diamond runs on the mountain. This post will explain how you can find and ski the toughest marked and un-marked runs in North America.
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! Be cautious on these runs and always respect the mountain. Falls on these runs could result in death. Ensure you take time to scout out each line yourself and use your experience with line choice and snow conditions to determine if it is safe.
I don’t want to scare you, but want to ensure that you will be approaching these trails with a safety-first mindset.
Now it’s time to make all of your wildest in-bounds steep skiing fantasies come true.
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 Blackcomb Mountain
All of the runs below can be found on the Whistler Blackcomb Trail Map. They are rated as double black diamonds, but, depending on the line you decide to ski you can make these lines even more challenging.
Please remember to wear a HELMET and keep it strapped up!
Couloir Extreme (Saudan Couloir)
Named after Sylvain Saudan, a French freeskier who was considered the ‘godfather of extreme skiing’. Over the course of his career Saudan claimed 23 first descents on some of the wildest steep skiing terrain in the world. In 1987 steep skiing was becoming the rage and Blackcomb launched a race named the Saudan Couloir Extreme (check out this epic youtube video). The race marketed itself as ‘2500 vertical feet of thigh burning hell’ and this couldn’t be more than true. The Saudan Coulouir is the steepest sustained fall line on both Whistler and Blackcomb and if you enter via the ‘False Face’ you will have conquered one of the steepest skiable faces at any ski resort in North America.
To Get to Saudan Couloir take a ride up the 7th Heaven Express and exit to the left following the Crystal Traverse/Blue Line. Ski down the cat track and you will see a ropes blocking the entrance to the ‘False Face’ and a small plaque providing some history on the run itself. The false face is steep and is usually sheet ice unless there has been fresh snow, but, this adds to the excitement. You do not want to fall while skiing down the false face because there are cliffs and rocks on the left side that could spell trouble. Once you ski down the false face the run opens up a bit more and you start getting some really soft turns. It is so steep that when you stop on the run all the snow/sluff from your skiing will bash into your legs. The Couloir opens up into the Jersey Cream bowl and you can choose to attack the bowl from the left, middle, or right (preferably the direction with the most powder and least avalanche debris). Note: there is always some avalanche debris in the bottom of the bowl so if the light is flat be extra careful so you don’t hit a huge death cookie at top speed.
Located in the Secret Bowl area is another steep skiing classic. Exit left on the 7th heaven chair and ski down the cat track past Saudan Couloir. Hang a left towards the open bowl you will see on your left (Secret Bowl). There are many different chutes and lines from the secret bowl that spit you out into the Jersey Cream Bowl. Pakalolo is one of the most heavily trafficked lines in the secret bowl. Stay to the left when traversing the secret bowl and look for the obvious entrance. The entrance to Pakalolo is often steep, bumpy and has a few rocks to navigate around. It is quite wide compared to other chutes and is a great option if this is your first time skiing a chute. If you want more of a challenge you can opt to try the Pakalolo Pillow/side entrance. Instead of heading straight down Pakalolo stay further left and work your way around the rocks. The entrance is a much more steep and intense way to drop in. You will usually get a few awesome steep turns before meeting up with the main stem of Pakalolo. Once you have skied Pakalolo head over to the Bite for some awesome tree skiing.
Spanky’s Ladder is the bread and butter of Blackcomb mountain and sometimes I can’t even believe that this is skiable resort terrain. There are 4 primary areas you can ski in Spankys, the Sapphire, Diamond, Garnet and Ruby Bowls. The entrances to the bowls vary in difficulty and there are no signs marking which direction to ski or safe routes. Spanky’s Ladder can be quite intimidating if it is your first time skiing it, especially if the visibility isn’t perfect. In fact, Spanky’s is so intricate that I have put together a completely separate guide for skiing it. You can check it out here.
Located on the Crystal Ridge Express. Exit to the left down Ridge Runner and watch for a big wooden sign post on the right about half way down. Outer limits is a great run for the adventurous who love tree skiing. It is steep and filled with pillows, drops and trees. The further you stay to skiers left the easier it is. The further you adventure to the right, the more burly the terrain becomes. There is a large cliff band near the bottom portion of the run. You will have to traverse to the left above it to continue down to glacier road. You can also navigate the cliffs to the right and ski the (CBC trees) to the bottom. Make sure you are with a friend in this area and you have a charged phone and a map, sometimes it can get confusing, but, as long as you continue downhill and dodge all of the large cliffs you will end up back at the glacier road which will lead you back to the base of the Crystal Ridge Chairlift.
Steepest/Hardest Unmarked Inbounds Runs on Blackcomb Mountain
Some of the lines on this list may very well be the most challenging in-bounds terrain in all of North America. I’ve listed the runs in no particular order. If I had to choose the top 4 most dangerous, exposed and scary runs on the mountain would be Krakatoa, Hawaii 5-0, Crack House and Pencil Chute, but thats just my opinion. Try them for yourself!
Molly’s reach is a short and steep chute to the skiers right of the Grey Zone above Ridge Runner on the Crystal chair. The chute can feel spooky and involves negotiating a cornice and making turns above the cliffs to your right. The whole line is a no-fall zone. To access this line ride up the Glacier Chair and take a left on crystal traverse. At the sharp left turn continue to the right towards the short steep hike (known as the Chimney) below the big rock face. Once you reach the top stay to the skiers right of the Grey Zone by the boundary ropes. Molly’s reach is the first accessible chute on the right. Be very careful when peering around the cornice to find the entrance.
Teetering is one of the more interesting entrance’s to negotiate in Blackcomb. I always thought it got it’s name because the gigantic cornice that marks the entrance barely balances over the chute below. Take a look up at it the next time you are riding up the glacier chair and you will wonder, ‘How the hell, does someone ski this?’ Teetering is actually named after the Wile E. Coyote rock situated on the cliffs edge about 30m to the left. The Teetering entrance is a massive cornice and sometimes there is no reasonable way to conquer it. Once you are standing atop teetering things feel slightly better as you can take your first left turn onto a bench type feature above the massive cliff below before fully committing to the line. The conditions have to be right for this one so make sure you spot it from the bottom! If you conquer Teetering from the top you have some serious guts.
Purple Haze is another fantastic chute with a slightly technical and exposed entrance. To access it you need to head up the 7th heaven express and traverse across Secret Bowl staying to the left towards cougar chutes (the open and clear path down with sparse trees). Ski a few turns down cougar chutes and traverse to the right where the run flattens out and there are two small sections of spaced trees. Head between the trees and take a look at the cornice before dropping in. The entrance is a no fall zone and it is tight and tricky. Once you safely conquer the entrance you will be rewarded with some amazing snow and great powder turns down purple haze as it opens up into the Baggers area and into the Bite.
The Curl (Lone Pine)
The curl also known as lone pine for the tiny little solo tree that sits at the end of the line. Ski down secret bowl and head left alongside the huge cliffs. Continue hugging the cliffs and ski down the curl as it winds around the cliffs left. The entrance and line is fairly straight forward but take your time and ski safely because the whole line is a (no-fall zone). If you lose an edge you will be tumbling down a massive cliff. The curl is a unique line and will be very fun to point out to your friends and family the next time you are heading up the chairlift and want to brag.
This is hands down one of the most insane lines on the resort. Head up the Showcase T-bar accessed via the Glacier chair. Once you reach the top of the T-Bar pop you skis or board off and boot pack up the 50m groomed up-track. Pop your skis back on and traverse across the windlip. Once you are at a dead stop pop your skis off and hike along the windlip and to the right around the back of the ridge to bootpack up. Krakatoa is the second skiable line along the ridge. This line is extremely dangerous and involves dropping two cliff bands that can range anywhere from 2-10 meters depending on the snowpack.
Head up the Showcase-T-bar and hike the same ridge as Krakatoa. This time head all the way to the top. Crack house starts the same as Ladies first which is the furthest line down the ridge. Maneuver left around the upper cliff and take a right turn at the second rock band jumping off the mandatory air in the middle. This one is also extremely dangerous and should only be attempted in optimal conditions by expert skiers.
Head up the Showcase T-bar accessed via the Glacier chair. Once you reach the top of the T-Bar pop you skis or board off and boot pack up the 50m groomed up-track. Once through the gate, this massive (blowhole) type feature is on the left. Looking down this one can feel pretty intimidating but it is skiable, so give it a try!
CBC Trees & Romper Room
I like to call this one THE MAZE. The CBC trees are for experienced ski adventurers only and those who are comfortable with a little bit of navigation and hiking through the trees. It is best to learn how to ski this run from a guide or someone with lots of prior knowledge. You can be in this run for 15-20 minutes and see absolutely no one, hence, THE MAZE. From the top of the crystal chair stay right and traverse above ridge runner. You will see a designated hiking trail. Once the trees begin in front of you pop your skis on and turn down to the left. The top portion is known as Romper Room and the larger bottom portion is CBC trees. There are loads of hazards, cliffs and frozen waterfalls tucked in and around the CBC trees. The hazards are what make this area so exciting but also challenging. It is very easy to get lost in the CBC trees so only explore this area with friends always keep a bit of a trajectory to the left. It is common to get cliffed out in here and have to hike around to find a safe way down. After some exploration in this area you will become more familiar and be able to navigate your way to your favourite lines.
The Chainsaw Ridge is the huge cornice atop the ridge you see up and to the left of the Jersey Cream Chair. To access the ridge ride up the 7th Heaven chair and exit left continuing down along the ridge North of Saudan Couloir. Be careful while traversing along the ridge due to the many cliffs below and stay well clear of the huge cornice on the edge. There are 5 different routes down the Ridge. It is best to scope out your plan of descent from the top of the Jersey Cream chair before you attack. Hawaii 5-0 is the first route down and is not for the faint of heart. This one is the steepest in-bounds runs on the entire hill. Some say that it’s called Hawaii 5-0 because its pitch is 50 degrees. Bring an extra set of underwear if you are dropping into 5-0. The next two skiable lines are Bushrat and Bushrat shoulder both involving entering off the massive cornice. The shoulder is more technical and is a ‘no-fall zone’ as you navigate your way down with huge cliffs to your right.
The Horstman Peak is the Ridge you see up and to the right of the 7th Heaven chair. Do not ski the chutes down the Horstman peak if the uphill travel sign is marked as closed. The bootpack takes only a few minutes and you will have your pick at 6 different lines along the ridge including Pearly Gates, Prime Rib, stupid East, Stupid West, and Way Stupid the most challenging of them all. I’ve never had the right conditions to do Way Stupid from the top but have traversed in from Stupid East. They are all steep, exhilarating and depending on the time of the year inaccessible due to the size of the cornices.
Surfs Up and Pencil Chute
These 3 chutes are all steep, rocky and not for the faint hearted. You can access these chutes by heading to the Blackcomb Glacier and traversing left after the end of the rocks on the left side of blowhole. Winky Pop is the first line on the right and it is very straight forward (just don’t fall!). Surfs Up may be the steepest on paper but it is wide enough to side slip the whole chute making it less intimidating. If you’re an adrenaline junkie the pencil chute on the far right is by far the most exhilarating. The Pencil chute is long and thin and is accessed via a cornice which you sometimes have to jump into. If it is possible to side slip the entrance expect it to be icy. You’ll be coming out of the chute at intense speed so call your drop and make sure no one is below before you nail this legend of a line. It’s always best to check the snow conditions below the line before you drop in. You will not be able to let go of your speed if you exit onto sheet ice. Good Luck!
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 Blackcomb off your bucket list. Why not try the most extreme runs on Whistler. Check out the post HERE.
Happy Steep Skiing!