Skiers and snowboarders come from all over the world to test their skills on the world-class mountains of Jackson Hole. But are they here for the mellow, wide-open groomers? No, they're here for some serious action. Jackson Hole is known for its no-nonsense and expert terrain. Even in-bounds, you can find runs that are so daunting you have to get special permission from ski patrol to even attempt them.
Here, a look at the five scariest ski runs in Jackson Hole (in no particular order). Attempt at your own risk.
1. Corbet's Couloir, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
If the up-to-20-foot drop-in doesn't scare you off, and you're not intimidated by the the tight rock walls on both sides, the crowds watching your every move on the most talked about run in the West just might make you queasy. When you drop into Corbet's Couloir at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort be prepared to be gawked at: While most of the people who gather around the edge never venture to take this potential tumble with gravity, you'll find plenty of fascinated folks gathered around, watching brave souls test their mettle on this world-famous run.
And, with Corbet's located in prime view from the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram, count on prying eyes from above as well. It's hard to turn away when someone is about to attempt this infamous couloir.
Corbet's Couloir isn't always open (it depends on snow conditions), but when it is, except a drop of at least 10 feet, followed by a quick right turn to avoid smashing into one of the rock walls. The initial drop is the adrenaline factor—after that, it's just a regular expert run.
2. Exhibition Run, Snow King Mountain
Snow King , also known as the “Town Hill” to locals, is known to have the steepest overall slope of any ski hill in North America. Significantly adding to that ranking is the double-black diamond Exhibition Run. This run, located on looker's right when at the base, is long and steep. Facing north, it's also often shaded and icy.
And, if a long, steep, icy run isn't enough to make you nervous, Exhibition Run, as its name implies, is in full view of the entire town. Yes, people going about their daily business can witness your epic garage sale if your run doesn't go too well. And the route is so steep (and often icy), that if you take a tumble on this route, there's a good chance you're falling all the way to the bottom. Nearby restaurants offer onlookers a place to grab a beer and a bite while watching people ski (and wipe out in epic fashion) on the mountain.
Exhibition Run is the one that snowmobiles race up during the World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb held each March. Snowmobilers test their mettle and throttle as they try to rocket their machines up this fantastically steep slope. And, of course, not every snowmobile makes it to the top. YouTube is full of videos of hill climb attempts that didn't go so well.
3. S&S Couloir, JHMR
While Corbet's Couloir is sure to terrify, it's open to anyone brave (or foolhardy) enough to make the attempt. But S&S Couloir is a different story: This route is so tough, you have to make special arrangements with ski patrol just to ski it and even has its own special waiver. And yes, it's in-bounds at JHMR.
The run is named after John Simms and Charlie Sands, two local legends and former ski patrolers, who first dropped into the couloir in the late 1960s. They have never revealed who took the plunge first.
And it's a serious plunge. The drop-in can be up to 40 feet, and you're heading onto a double fall line. If you miss the landing, you're likely going to hit a wall, and the narrow rock walls here are serious business. This is definitely a route for highly skilled experts only.
4. Tower Three Chute, JHMR
Located below the Thunder Lift, the Tower Three Chute at JHMR is a steep and narrow chute that will leave you coming back for more. From the top, it looks intimidating, but there's often plenty of good snow in the chute below. The run starts wide, but it quickly narrows into a tight crux in the middle. And the whole run is really, really steep.
5. Alta Chutes, JHMR
The Alta Chutes is a collection of three steep chutes (well, technically four, but Alta Negative is unmarked and in a permanently closed area due to its 40-foot cliff) at JHMR. Alta 1 is the most popular of the three open chutes, and you can see it from the Sublette quad. That means that if you take a tumble in this narrow, steep chute, you'll definitely hear about it later from everyone who was riding the chair and saw you fall. Alta 2 and Alta 3 aren't quite as narrow or tight as Alta 1, but they're still very steep.