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The 10 Scariest Ski Slopes in the World

Skiers who live for the snow rush will find heart-pounding thrills in Whistler Blackcomb, Jackson Hole and even Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.

But beware: These slopes are experts-only, so ski at your own risk.

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Photo: Andre Charland

Do You Dare?

One of winter's upsides is the ability to hit the slopes. For many, that means heading to the local ski resort and enjoying the greens, blues or blacks. For a smaller segment of the population, that means traveling further abroad to experience the steepest verticals, the biggest drops and the most challenging terrain and conditions. Read on to learn about the scariest and most extreme on- and off-piste slopes around the world.

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Photo: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Jackson Hole, Wyoming: Corbet’s Couloir

Jackson Hole legend has it that in 1960 mountaineer Barry Corbet noticed this couloir (a steep, narrow gorge), and said, “Someday someone will ski that.” Today many someones ski Corbet’s Couloir, of which the scariest part (of many) is the initial 20-foot drop. This involves (ideally) catching air followed by quick thinking to avoid smacking into narrow cliff walls. Many tumble down this initial stretch. You also need ideal snow conditions to attempt this without seriously injuring yourself. Unlike some extreme runs that aren’t officially listed on trail maps, you can find Corbet’s Couloir in the Double Black section. Scope it out while catching the tram to the top, then take advantage of Corbet’s Cabin for a pre-run pitstop.

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Photo: Kate Abraham

Squaw Valley, California: The Fingers

There’s no Photoshop trickery here; the Fingers in Lake Tahoe's Squaw Valley really are that vertical. It’s also another run that requires a leap of faith thanks to 50-foot drops on the way down. Expert skiers can study the options while catching the KT-22 lift up, although the hardcore queue up well before the lift opens at 9 a.m. in order to stake out their preferred line, dubbed “The Fingers Race.” Choose your own adventure from numerous steep, rocky chutes and then spend the next 2,000 feet trying not to wipe out.

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Photo: Juan Manuel Castro Prieto / Agence VU / Aurora Photos

La Grave, France

Let’s just say the entire La Grave ski "resort" (really a drop-off to some experts-only runs) is terrifying. Don't expect to find official runs, signs, ski patrol, roped-off sections or ski-in, ski-out anything. This is where extreme skiers come to experience backcountry terrain that’s home to glaciers, chutes and plenty of steeps — a gondola drops riders off at 7,000 feet. From there it’s up to you (and ideally a guide) to determine the best way down. Want to hike and then rappel down a cliff to reach a prime section? That can be done. Whichever path you pursue, odds are that you’ll barely see another soul while doing so. Just be on the alert for avalanches. Find out how to reach La Grave.

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