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World's best ski runs: 100 to 1

Story highlights

  • Best list panel of pickers includes Olympic medalist and ski/snowboard innovators
  • U.S., France, Canada top the list with most entries
  • You haven't skied New Zealand till you've hit the Motatapu
  • Corbet's Couloir at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has been called world's scariest slope
What great beaches are to summer, ski runs are to winter.
To make sure the snow hounds among us get equal treatment to the beach bums, we asked some of the world's top skiers, snowboarders and winter sports journalists to name their favorite ski run.
Our panel included Andrew Weibrecht, Olympic medalist and U.S. ski team member; John Stifter, editor at U.S. ski bible Powder magazine; Mike Douglas, the godfather of free-skiing and creator of the world's first twin-tip ski; and Nicola Iseard, editor of the UK's top ski magazine, Fall Line.
They helped us come up with this list of some of the world's most exhilarating ski runs.
Difficulty evaluations for each run were provided by the respective resorts and reflect a mix of rating systems.
While the resorts of Europe and North America understandably dominated the list, the novelty factor of skiing in some of the world's lesser known ski destinations resulted in a few less predictable recommendations.
Did we miss your favorite run? Share your pick in the comments.
100. Saulire, Three Valleys, France
"One of my favorite runs is the Saulire," says Emily Sarsfield, Great Britain's current number one ski-X athlete.
"It stretches all the way from the Meribel/Courchevel connection at 2,700 meters to Meribel Village at 1,400 meters. It's a great long run with really wide pistes and great views down the valley."
Watch out for: Rapid descent.
Rating: Red
99. Valluga, St. Anton, Austria
St. Anton's huge, powder-filled bowls attract skiers and snowboarders, but for many, the highlight is the 3,000-meter Valluga run.
You're not allowed to board the lift to the top without a guide, and the first section is challenging.
After that you encounter a series of powder fields before reachig Zürs -- famous for its mountaintop restaurants.
Watch out for: Powder-filled bowls.
Rating: Black
98. The Cliff, Big White, British Columbia
According to Team GB snowboarder Becky Menday, you can't do much better than The Cliff for adrenaline.
"I love doing The Cliff -- it's a near vertical face with amazing chutes to run down, especially on a powder day," she says.
Watch out for: Snowboarders crushing it at warp speed.
Rating: Double black diamond
97. McConkey's, Squaw Valley, California
Once known as Eagle's Nest, this run was renamed after the tragic death of Squaw Valley local Shane McConkey.
California's Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympic Games.
It can be found at the top of the KT-22 lift and is for advanced athletes only, thanks largely to the 68-degree pitch of the final section.
Watch out for: Other people.
Rating: Double black diamond
96. Motatapu Chutes, Treble Cone, New Zealand
The Motatapu Chutes are a series of expert-only runs in Treble Cone, New Zealand.
The chutes can be found at the top of the Saddle Basin chairlift.
New Zealand's top freestyle skiers and snowboarders love the varied terrain, which includes powder-filled bowls, narrow couloirs and drops.
Watch out for: Drops that appear out of nowhere.
Rating: Black
95. Chute 75, Squaw Valley, California
Pro skier Cody Townsend never tires of Squaw Valley's Chute 75.
"Chute 75 is one of the most infamous runs at the legendary Squaw Valley," he says.
"From fresh powder to spring slush, it skis well in nearly all conditions and sustains a pitch of 35 degrees for nearly 1,500 vertical feet.
"From the challenging cornice entrance to the narrow choke halfway down, Chute 75 is a challenge for any advanced skier."
Watch out for: Heavy vert.
Rating: Black diamond
94. Hourglass Chute, Alta, Utah
Steep slopes limit Hourglass to intermediate and advanced skiers.
It's narrow, but wide enough to fit a few turns to control your speed.
Watch out for: Narrowness.
Rating: Black diamond
93. Hidden Valley, Cortina, Italy
Many European resorts have "hidden valleys," but this one is special.
A 20-minute bus ride from the center of Cortina, the 2,750-meter descent snakes past frozen waterfalls.
At the bottom, horse-pulled lifts return skiers to the start of the Sella Ronda circuit.
Watch out for: Chanel-clad skiers aching to be seen.
Rating: Red
92. No. 3, Mount Hermon Ski Resort, Israel
Mount Herman is known as the Eyes of the Nation because of the views into Syria from the summit.
The journey to Israel's only ski resort is interesting, passing cordoned-off mine fields.
The nature reserve that surrounds the resort makes it a beautiful place to ski, and the views from No. 3 are glorious.
Watch out for: Mines and military training.
Rating: Red
91. The Back Corries, Nevis Range, Scotland
When the conditions are good, you can simply point your skis -- or snowboard -- downhill and let gravity do the rest.
It can get cold in Scotland, but the views are fantastic.
The views are superb.
Watch out for: Wind.
Rating: Red and black
90. Burnt Stew Trail, Whistler, British Columbia
This mellow, eight-mile ribbon has amazing views over Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Watch out for: The best views of Garibaldi Provincial Park in Canada.
Rating: Green
89. Straight Shot, Powder Mountain, Utah
This steep powder chute located directly beneath the Paradise lift is a favorite with snowboarders for its consistently steep pitch, rock jumps and cliffs.
Watch out for: Exposed hazards.
Rating: Black diamond
88. Scarlett's, Aspen Highlands, Colorado
"This is a wide, intermediate bump run off of the Cloud Nine ski lift," says snow sports journalist and founder of ski blog braveskimom.com Kristen Lummis.
"Scarlett's has a moderate, even pitch with well-spaced bumps. You feel like a freestyle champion as you bash through them.
"The run terminates at the Cloud Nine restaurant, where you can sit outside and watch the action."
Watch out for: Crowds outside Cloud Nine who laugh uproariously when you stack it.
Rating: Green
87. West Cirque, Whistler, British Columbia
This is pro skier and Rossignol athlete Dan Treadway's favorite run.
"It holds some of the best snow and is steep with some fun spines to ski," he says. "It also leads you into my second favorite run, which is called Christmas Trees."
Watch out for: Branches.
Rating: Double black diamond.
86. Grande Combe, Jebel Attar, Oukaimeden, Morocco
Africa's highest ski resort is located 10,000 feet above sea level, 80 kilometers from Marrakech.
The resort is one of the world's most bizarre places to ski or snowboard -- there's just one chairlift but locals often opt for a donkey ride to the top of the ungraded runs, the majority of which start from the peak of Jebel Attar.
A steep mogul field, Grande Combe offers the best terrain at the resort.
Watch out for: The donkey ski lift.
Rating: Ungraded
85. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Zermatt, Switzerland
Getting to this run involves a ride on the lift of the same name, one of the highest cable cars in Europe.
Through the tunnel near the lift's exit you emerge to spectacular views over the Matterhorn.
From here, it's an eight-mile descent that drops 2,200 vertical meters.
Watch out for: Bad weather.
Rating: Red
84. Vallon d'Arby, Verbier, Switzerland
This one puts powder seekers in their element.
Verbier -- land of postcard views.
It's marked as an official run on the ski map, but can still be tackled when it's closed, if you're with a guide.
The second half opens up to reveal several powder bowls and tree-lined sections, before finishing in the village of La Tzoumaz.
Watch out for: Getting lost.
Rating: Black
83. Olympiabakken course, Kvitfjell, Norway
This run was used for the downhill event at the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Although it's rated black, on powder days it's suitable for intermediate skiers.
Various jumps can be bypassed and the slow corners and numerous straight sections mean that there's plenty of time to take in the view over the Jotunheimen Mountains.
Watch out for: Jumps -- they demand a lot if you hit them.
Rating: Black
82. Bräma schwer, Jakobshorn-Teufi, Davos, Switzerland
Few runs in the Jakobshorn ski area are groomed, which makes the whole place a favorite with advanced skiers.
Bräma schwer is an ungroomed run through varied terrain that gets terrific powder stashes and holds snow well into spring, thanks to an optimal northeastern exposure throughout winter.
Watch out for: Sneaky powder.
Rating: Red and black
81. Kill the Banker, Revelstoke, British Columbia
"Kill the Banker at Revelstoke Mountain Resort has to be one of the most fun runs in the world," says pro skier and Dynastar athlete Sean Cochrane.
"It has some of the steepest cliffs known to man while technically being out of bounds, but it's located directly beneath the gondola, so you're never too far from hearing the cheers from your peers."
Watch out for: Cliffs.
Rating: Double black diamond
80. Saslong, Val Gardena, Italy
Here's a good place for airtime.
The middle section contains a series of three jumps, the center one of which can be cleared if you approach at high speed.
Watch out for: Coming up short when trying to clear the middle jump.
Rating: Black
79. Ross Gold, Blackcomb, British Columbia
The Solar Coaster Express leads to this run, named after pro snowboarder Ross Rebagliati.
It's often closed for race training but is suitable for intermediates.
The even pitch makes it ideal for practicing high-speed turns.
Watch out for: Blunt edges.
Rating: Black diamond
78. Piste 38, Kitzbühel, Austria
Locals like to claim this as the world's most spectacular ski run.
The bad news is there's little time to take in the view, because the gradient reaches 70% at several spots.
For experts only.
Watch out for: Speed.
Rating: Black
77. Combe du Vallon, Meribel, France
A great run to end the day on, thanks to crazy views of Mottaret and Tueda Lake.
Off piste but on course for some great powder, at Meribel.
A flat section at the bottom means there might be some walking involved, but the scenery should keep you interested.
Watch out for: A long flat section.
Rating: Red
76. Whispering Jesse, Snowmass, Colorado
It has space and it's easygoing.
"Whispering Jesse incorporates terrain shifts, detours through widely spaced glades and outstanding grooming as it makes its way down from the top of the Big Burn," says snow sports journalist Kristen Lummis.
"It's the type of ego-boosting run that makes Snowmass famous."
Watch out for: Overconfidence.
Rating: Blue
75. Hugh's Heaven, Blackcomb, British Columbia
Blackcomb's Seventh Heaven area is popular with intermediate skiers and snowboarders, and Hugh's Heaven, located above the tree line, offers views to Whistler on sunny days.
Access is via the Solar Coaster Express.
Watch out for: Ski school crowds.
Rating: Blue
74. Forcella Rossa, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
The women's World Cup uses this experts-only run -- it has rocky canyons in the first half followed by several long, steep sections.
Watch out for: Great scenery.
Rating: Black
73. The Cut, Grouse Mountain, British Columbia
Located 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, skiers and snowboarders on this run get breathtaking views over the city.
It's open for night skiing.
Watch out for: Vancouver.
Rating: Green
72. Crystal Ridge, Diamond Peak, California
At Lake Tahoe, the runs with the best views are mostly suited to advanced skiers, but this one is good for beginners and intermediates.
Watch out for: Snowflake Lodge -- good place for a break.
Rating: Blue
71. So Long, Alta, Utah
Pro skier Brody Leven loves Alta's So Long run for its variety.
"After traveling to the far corner of the resort and up the Supreme lift, a really short sidestep puts you on top of a long run with more options and features than I've seen anywhere else," says Brody.
"It's that one run that will stick out in your memory, and you'll look back on it with pride."
Watch out for: Varied terrain.
Rating: Black diamond
70. The Bite, Whistler, British Columbia
"My favorite run on Whistler Blackcomb is The Bite," says pro skier and Rossignol athlete Logan Pehota. "It's the first run I go to every time it snows."
Watch out for: Powder.
Rating: Black diamond
69. Canalone Miramonti, Madonna di Campiglio, Italy
With sharp bends and major variations in slope gradient, this run keeps the best skiers and snowboarders on their toes.
 Madonna di Campiglio hosted the Ski World Cup Men's Slalom in 2012.
Floodlit for night skiing, the run ends in the heart of a pretty Italian resort.
Watch out for: Tight turns.
Rating: Black
68. Misoshiru, Niseko, Japan
Misoshiru means "miso soup," and like the soup, this run is different every time you try it.
It's a long, un-groomed black run that finishes in Niseko -- perfect for those wanting to improve their technical skills.
Watch out for: Complacency. It always throws something new your way.
Rating: Black
67. North Face, Alyeska, Alaska
This is North America's longest continuous double black diamond run.
Watch out for: Fearless locals who were skiing before they were walking.
Rating: Double black diamond
66. Aguille Rouge, Les Arcs, France
From the highest point in the resort, the Aiguille Rouge (Red Needle) descends 2,000 meters to the hamlet of Villaroger.
It's rated black at the top, but mellows into a red a third of the way down.
Watch out for: Wine-filled skiers oblivious to others.
Rating: Red and black
65. Couloir Croix des Verdons, Courchevel, France
Located 50 meters from the top of the Saulire cable car, this challenging, off-piste run is steep but not in a death-defying way.
It remains relatively crowd-free through winter.
Watch out for: Cocky skiers and snowboarders who aren't as good as they think they are.
Rating: Unrated
64. Jerusalem, Méribel, France
This is a long, undulating rollercoaster run on the Saint Martin de Belleville side of Meribel.
The village where the run finishes is one of the prettiest in the Three Valleys region -- a good spot for lunch.
Watch out for: Bumps and rollers.
Rating: Red
63. Eclipse/Luna, Valle Nevado, Chile
South America's largest ski resort has one of its craziest (and funnest) runs.
The black Eclipse run starts at the peak of the Cima Andes mountain (3,483 meters), hurls you down a steep snowy cliff before leveling off into the red Luna run.
That ends at a restaurant where you can ingest a few calories before taking the Andes Express cable car back to the top to start over.
Rating: Black and red
62. The Swiss Wall, Avoriaz, France
The "For Experts Only" sign at the top tells you that this is one of the steepest descents in the Alps.
It's just 200 meters long, so if you fall, there's not (that) far to go.
Watch out for: The end. There's little room to burn off speed.
Rating: Black
61. Holiday, Niseko, Japan
The Grand Hirafu ski area is popular for night skiing.
Plenty of room for all at Niseko in Japan.
This easy, crowd-free run is accessed via the King Triple Lift #3 and located at the bottom of the red-rated Rinkan run.
Watch out for: Other skiers in the dark.
Rating: Green
60. L'Aigle Noir, Morzine France
This one looks tame but it's open to the elements -- gale-force winds and huge moguls.
Watch out for: Big bumps.
Rating: Black
59. Tortin, Verbier, Switzerland
After a heavy snowfall, powder seekers flock to this north-facing run.
Large moguls quickly form and it can become one of Switzerland's tougher descents.
Watch out for: Fatigue.
Rating: Black
58. Lauberhorn, Wengen, Switzerland
Part of the World Cup Downhill ski racing circuit, this is a test of both stamina and technical ability.
Watch out for: Staying upright.
Rating: Black
57. Grand Paradis, Avoriaz, France
Winding through a valley below the spectacular peaks of the Dents du Midi, this picturesque run takes you from one of the highest points in the area all the way to the town of Chambery.
Watch out for: Mountain goats, especially in spring.
Rating: Red
56. Bear Run, Fernie, British Columbia
This tiny resort gets a ridiculous amount of snow, which makes Fernie's long gentle cruisers -- like Bear Run -- great fun, especially on a powder day.
Watch out for: Visibility, which can deteriorate rapidly.
Rating: Blue
55. Grizzly Gully, Lake Louise, Alberta
Grizzly Gully is ranked blue, but the range of terrain, which includes powder-filled bowls, trees and chutes, means you can choose routes that are suited to your skill level.
Watch out for: Bears.
Rating: Blue
54. Outer Limits, Killington, Vermont
This is the longest, steepest mogul run in the eastern United States.
Kelly Marren rides the half pipe during the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix in 2009 in Killington, Vermont.
The starting point is at the top of Bear Mountain.
Watch out for: Never-ending moguls.
Rating: Double black diamond
53. Meribel World Cup Downhill, Meribel, France
"There's no better piste than the one used for Meribel's World Cup Downhill course," says Dave Edwards, CEO of the British Ski and Snowboard governing body.
"It's fast, long and at its best early morning, just after it's been groomed. I like to get up there early and watch the sun come up over the mountains and see the course come out of shadow and into sunlight as the racers inspect the course."
Watch out for: Shadows.
Rating: Blue
52. Roca Jack, Portillo, Chile
One of the South America's best resorts, Portillo on the dramatic Inca Lagoon, is renowned for big mountain runs.
The expert-level Roca Jack -- accessed by a high-elevation tow rope -- shows off that gargantuan terrain. The nearby Garganta run is another worthy monster.
Particularly on powder days, the wide-open run -- shouldered by massive peaks -- delivers the best buzz in Portillo, outside a bottle of Carmenere.
Watch out for: Not much -- this is "vista" skiing.
Rating: Expert
(The original version of this story listed Austria's Harakiri run -- #28 -- twice and inadvertently left out Portillo's Roca Jack at #52. The error has been corrected. —Ed.)
51. La Face, Val d'Isere, France
"This notorious 1992 Winter Olympics downhill run is steep and often covered in moguls the size of cars," says Nicola Iseard, editor of the UK's Fall Line magazine.
"It took Olympic gold medalist Patric Ortlieb a mere two minutes to ski from top to bottom. It's probably best to not try and beat his time."
Watch out for: The bottom, which appears out of nowhere.
Rating: Black
50. Cascades, Flaine, France
The 14-kilometer Cascades run is the longest blue run in France.
The adventure starts at Les Grandes Platières in Flaine, 2,500 meters above sea level.
From there it's a long gentle cruise all the way home to the parking lot, where a free shuttle bus awaits.
To break up the journey, the Gers Lake restaurant has a huge terrace and serves great raclette.
Watch out for: The shuttle bus timetable -- if you miss the last bus, getting back to the main resort can be tricky.
Rating: Blue
49. Sarenne, Alpe d'Huez, France
With a length of more than 17 kilometers and a total drop of 2,000 meters, this is the longest black run in the French Alps.
From the starting point at the top of Pic Blanc, there are stunning views over dozens of peaks.
The top section is the steepest, but a detour allows intermediates to bypass the mogul field at the top.
Watch out for: The top section. It's steeper than it looks.
Rating: Black
48. Alta Zero, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
In a recent poll of Wyoming skiers, this topped the list as one of the steepest, scariest runs in the state.
Watch out for: Your skis -- if your bindings pop open, they'll be a distant memory.
Rating: Double black diamond
47. Sella Ronda, Dolomites, Italy
This is more like a long-distance circuit than a ski run.
The 16-kilometer route passes below limestone crags, through alpine meadows and mountain villages.
Several ski lifts provide a chance to take in the view.
Watch out for: Alpine villages.
Rating: Blue/red
46. No 60, Curnius, Laax, Switzerland
Pro skier Chris McCormick cites No 60 as one of his favorites.
Laax -- long runs, high quality.
"This is because of how long the run is, but every feature is of really high quality," he says.
Watch out for: Sudden changes in grade.
Rating: Red
45. Paradise, Mad River Glen, Vermont
This experts-only run is filled with obstacles.
To start, there's a five-meter cliff drop followed by a narrow, ungroomed trail that snakes around boulders and trees.
Watch out for: The cliff drop.
Rating: Black diamond
44. Grand Couloir, Courchevel, France
Getting to this ridiculously steep run is a challenge in itself -- after riding up the Saulire Télépherique cable car, you have to creep along a narrow, icy, 200-meter-long ridge.
The run consists of an extremely steep chute then a huge, mogul-filled powder field.
Watch out for: Ice.
Rating: Black
43. Rambo, Crested Butte, Colorado
Once you commit to this 300-meter run with a 55-degree pitch, there's no going back.
For steep terrain, it's one of the best runs in the United States.
Watch out for: Other skiers and snowboarders. It gets crowded.
Rating: Double black diamond
42. Ridge Runner, Whistler, British Columbia
This intermediate-level, tree-lined run is wide, fun and skirts the edge of the resort, where crowds are rare.
Watch out for: Bears, especially in March when they're emerging from hibernation.
Rating: Blue
41. The Hahnenkamm, Kitzbühel, Austria
This spectacular Austrian run (also known as the Streif) is widely regarded as the world's toughest, and is the setting for World Cup downhill races each winter.
The three-kilometer run isn't as scary as you might think, but on race day the red-rated slope is injected with water to turn it into a sheet of ice.
The rest of the year it's significantly less scary. It's so wide that sections can be skirted.
Watch out for: Speed.
Rating: Black
40. Casserousse, Chamrousse, France
The favorite run of Marion Josserand (ski cross bronze medalist in Vancouver 2010) can be found at a tiny resort in the French Alps.
"My top slope is Casse Rousse, 1,700 meters above sea level," says Marion. "It's very long and located in a hidden part of the ski resort, so it's never busy. Because of its north face, the snow is always fresh and good.
"On this slope, you can find everything: flats, bumps, trees and, of course, steep parts. It's a little bit like my secret garden."
Watch out for: Powder stashes on the edges.
Rating: Black
39. Bernadein, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Here's a great morning warmup run.
With its shady, high position (the run starts at 2,050 meters) snow conditions are almost always great, and the views over the mountains greater.
Watch out for: Late afternoon ice.
Rating: Red
38. Hobacks, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
"The Hobacks at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is my number one run in the world," says Salomon pro skier Kim Havell.
"Although relatively mild in pitch, this area offers some of the world's deepest powder fields with tremendous vertical and open, expansive skiing."
Watch out for: Powder holes.
Rating: Black
37. Four o'clock, Breckenridge, Colorado
Snowboarders turn windsurfers in Breckenridge.
"The Four o'clock is just a nice long run home," says Ross Welch, pro skier and founder of forskiersbyskiers.com.
"This wide and fast run is my personal favorite, as it always ends the day on a high -- that four o'clock feeling!"
Watch out for: The last lift -- nothing beats finishing the day with a deserted descent of this relaxed run.
Rating: Blue
36. Hemlocks, Mammoth, California
"When you're on this run, it feels like you're in own private powder utopia," says Atomic skier Chris Benchetler. "The final part is a perfect, well-protected, north facing slope, with great terrain and trees to wind in and out of."
Watch out for: Nothing. This is a crowd-free pleasure.
Rating: Double black diamond
35. Zig Zag, Blackcomb Mountain, Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Pro skier Matty Richard loves Blackcomb Mountain's Zig Zag run for its high speed thrills.
"Zig Zag feels like you're on a roller coaster," he says.
Watch out for: Unexpected bumps.
Rating: Blue
34. Ciampac, Canazei, Italy
This black run is regularly used for international Super G and Women's Giant Slalom races.
It requires a high level of technical ability, plus nerves of steel -- there are several incredibly steep sections.
With a slope gradient of 34% and a vertical drop of 660 meters, you're at the bottom in no time.
Watch out for: Pro skiers in training.
Rating: Black
33. Cosmiques Couloir, Chamonix, France
"Chamonix's Cosmiques Couloir, off the Aiguille du Midi cable car, is my favorite run," says Dynastar skier Forrest Coots.
"There's a short side-step to the entrance, then a rappel and you're in the couloir. It's an 800-meter couloir that's 50 degrees at the top, mellowing to 45 degrees, exiting on the Bossons Glacier.
"From there it's a case of navigating the glacier's seracs down to the Mount Blanc tunnel and Chamonix."
Watch out for: Entire, fur-clad families snaking down the mountain in perfect crocodile formation.
Rating: Black
32. Keyhole, Snowbird, Utah
Keyhole is pro skier Forrest Coots' number one run.
"From the tram it's a short ski and hike up to the high traverse, then a few turns down 'Fields of Glory,' and a few more down 'Thanks for the Memories,'" says Coots.
"Then duck through the trees for a few more turns along the Alta-Snowbird rope line, then hang a left into some of the deepest, tree-skiing, powder lines at Snowbird."
Watch out for: Little trails that lead off from the main run.
Rating: Black diamond
31. Sache, Tignes, France
This run is located next to the Aiguille Percee or "eye of the needle."
The first half is steep, with moguls so huge they have to be climbed down if you're a snowboarder -- skiers should find it easier.
The second half is easier, snaking all the way down to Tignes le Brevieres, the resort's lowest point.
Watch out for: Car-sized moguls.
Rating: Black
30. Barry Barry Steep, Snowbird, Utah
One of the best tree runs in the United States, this intermediate-level run winds through snow-dusted conifers.
Access is via the Snowbird tram.
Watch out for: Tree stumps. Lots.
Rating: Double black diamond
29. Gran Pista, Trentino, Italy
Although it has several steep sections, the wide flat stretches between them offer a chance to recover.
The last section winds through one of the area's prettiest forests.
Watch out for: Steep sections.
Rating: Red
28. Harakiri, Mayrhofen, Austria
This run is Austria's steepest.
The Hintertux Glacier near Mayrhofen in the Zillertal Valley, Austria.
It's so steep that to groom it, the resort uses a piste basher attached to a winch.
One of the steepest sections can be found at the end, but a long run-out provides plenty of room to burn off speed.
"Harakiki is one of the steepest ski runs in the world and it really opens your eyes when you're standing at the top," says Olympic halfpipe snowboarder and Oakley athlete Ben Kilner.
Watch out for: Hidden bumps.
Rating: Black
27. Couloirs des Fréaux, La Grave, France
This is one of La Grave's toughest runs.
"This is a long, narrow couloir that goes from the top station in La Grave past Vachier Lake into a narrow gully," says Jenny Fellows of the North American Ski Training Center.
"You end up in village of Les Freaux. The run is about 800 meters and prone to avalanches. It's for experts only, and best in February and March."
Watch out for: Everything -- this is one of the world's most challenging runs.
Rating: Unrated
26. Cornice Bowl, Mammoth, California
The Cornice Bowl is one of Mammoth's most famous runs.
The views from the top are spectacular, but its narrow chutes mean that turns need to be precise.
"Mammoth has an amazing park and insane back country," says Tom Monterosso of Snowboarder Magazine.
Watch out for: Narrow chutes.
Rating: Black diamond
25. Gransangarner, Riksgränsen, Sweden
Sweden's ski areas are underestimated, and this resort, open between February and May, has spectacular skiing under the midnight sun.
Gransleden offers the novelty of a brief foray into Norway before curving back into Sweden.
Watch out for: Norway.
Rating: Red
24. Stairway to Heaven, Niseko, Japan
This gentle, scenic intermediate run is located to the west of the main Hirafu ski area.
Beautiful silver birches line the route, which can be extended by linking with the Youtei Sunset run.
Watch out for: Crazy gadgets beloved by the Japanese skiers and snowboarders.
Rating: Red
23. Sparks Lane, Mount Bachelor, Oregon
Laurenne Ross, an Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Downhill podium finisher, says Mount Bachelor is one for speedsters.
"Sparks Lake is my all-time favorite run," says Ross. "It's reminiscent of a downhill course: twists and turns, steeps and flats, jumps and banked turns, I still love flying down that run at full-speed -- there's no better feeling in the world."
Watch out for: Banked turns.
Rating: Black diamond
22. High Boy, Alta, Utah
Best payoff for Alta's High Boy run?
The bar at the end.
"At the top you get an insane view down the canyon all the way down to valley floor," says pro skier Julian Carr, world record holder for the highest invert ever performed (translation: a very big jump).
"Once you drop in, it's steep and sustained good times all the way to the bottom, legs-a-burning, straight to the Sitzmark bar for a tasty beverage."
Watch out for: Too many celebratory beers.
Rating: Black diamond
21. The Wall, Kirkwood, California
For a white-knuckle ride, Kirkwood's Wall is hard to beat.
"This is a double-black ski run that offers access to heart-in-your-mouth steep chutes, followed by huge gullies loaded with features," says Nicola Iseard of Fall Line magazine.
"About halfway down this is one of Mother Nature's best terrain parks: diving board cliff drops, small lips and twisting gullies. The epitome of fun."
Watch out for: Cliffs.
Rating: Double black diamond
20. Inspiration, Whitefish, Montana
This intermediate-level run goes from the summit of Whitefish Mountain all the way to the base lodge, a drop of around 700 meters.
What makes it special are uninterrupted views of Glacier National Park and Flathead Valley.
Watch out for: Incredible views of Glacier National Park.
Rating: Blue
19. Either one, Tiffindell, South Africa
There's only one ski resort in South Africa and that ski resort has just two (ungraded) runs, but Tiffindell makes it onto our list simply because the resort's location, in the shadow of Mount Ben McDuie, is breathtaking.
Tiffindell -- two (ungraded) runs, one breathtaking location.
Watch out for: The cold -- it regularly drops to -21°C.
18. Rotegg, Titlis, Engelberg, Switzerland
Dynastar World Cup Ski Racer Dominique Gisin loves the first run he ever skied.
"My favorite slope in the world is called Rotegg and it's part of my home ski area, Titlis in Engelberg," says Gisin. "It's the first black slope I skied as a kid. It's a steep and impressive couloir that connects the glacier to the rest of the ski area.
"There are big bumps all over the place. I think that's why I was never that impressed with all the tough courses in World Cup."
Watch out for: Local speed demons.
Rating: Unrated
17. Exchange Drop, Coronet Peak, Otago, New Zealand
Coronet Peak is the oldest and lowest resort in New Zealand.
On powder days, experts head to Exchange Drop, which can be found at the top of the Rocky Gully T-bar lift.
New Zealand's national ski team trains on it.
Watch out for: Roller coaster bumps.
Rating: Black
16. Poma slopes, Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Gulmarg is in the Pir Panjals, one of six ranges that make up the Himalayas.
The Poma slopes -- so-called because of the type of lifts that lead to them -- are great for beginners and include some beautiful runs through the forests that encircle the resort.
Watch out for: Soldiers.
15. Delirium Dive, Sunshine Village, Banff, Alberta
This steep, Canadian trail is an experts-only affair.
Delirium Dive -- avalanche prone and for experts only.
Only skiers and snowboarders with avalanche transponders are allowed to tackle it, because it's extremely avalanche-prone.
Watch out for: Avalanches.
Rating: Double black diamond
14. Corbet's Couloir, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
This double black run is short (just 150 meters) and scary. It's been called the world's scariest slope by several publications, including USA Today.
"Corbet's Couloir is one of the best measuring sticks for expert skiers in the world," says pro skier Griffin Post. "A 15-foot drop gives way to a several-hundred-foot, 40-degree powder run. Although it's a breathtaking drop, the reward (survival) is well worth it."
Watch out for: Courage. You'll need it.
Rating: Double black diamond
13. Vallée Blanche, Chamonix, France
Vallée Blanche is one of Europe's most famous descents.
There are several routes down, including the Valley, the Petit Envers du Plan and the Grand Envers du Plan.
The resort advises anyone trying the last route to take a guide.
Watch out for: Icy patches.
Rating: Unrated
12. Piste No 6, Parsenn, Switzerland
Parsenn is the birthplace of alpine skiing, so this run is imbued with history.
To get to it, you have to take the world's first funicular built purely for skiers -- the Parsennbahn, which started operating in 1931.
From the top it's a long, scenic ride, from high above Davos's beautiful tree line to the valley floor.
Watch out for: The scenery -- some of Switzerland's finest.
Rating: Black
11. Blackcomb Glacier, Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Mike Douglas, aka "the Godfather of free-skiing," calls Blackcomb Glacier his favorite place to ski.
"It descends one mile of vertical over 13 kilometers and covers a larger variety of terrain than any other run in North America," says Douglas.
"When you add incredible views, you have an icon."
Watch out for: Spectacular terrain.
Rating: Black and double diamond blacks
10. Olympia, Cortina, Italy
This high-speed Italian course is legendary among pros.
"One of my favorite runs is the World Cup Downhill run in Cortina, Italy," says Pamela Thorburn, a member of Great Britain's ski-X team. "The Dolomites are the most beautiful mountains in the world and the run goes straight down past the famous Tofana Shute."
Watch out for: Fur-clad local women who tackle this run while taking a call on their diamond-studded phones.
Rating: Red
9. The Palisades, Squaw Valley, California
The Palisades earns its place because watching the local experts on this slope is almost as exciting as tackling it yourself.
It's the first run that Powder Magazine editor John Stifter heads to when the snow falls.
"The Palisades run beneath the KT-22 lift allows for massive airs and huge lines off all the cliffs and down the steeps," says Stifter.
"The varied location and terrain are why people refer to the area as Squallywood. The best of the best show up here to make their mark in hopes of becoming the next Scot Schmidt or Shane McConkey."
Watch out for: The fearless snowboarders Squaw Valley is famous for.
Rating: Black diamond
8. Cenidor, Marte and Mercurio, Las Leñas, Argentina
Famous for its black ratings and also a popular heli-skiing destination, this resort has one of the world's longest ski runs, an unnamed descent made up of three intermediate-level runs: Cenidor, Marte and Mercurio.
A popular heli-skiing destination, Las Lenas also has one of the world's longest ski runs.
At 15 miles long, it's widely regarded as one of South America's best runs.
Watch out for: Sudden steep sections.
Rating: Black
7. Skyward, Whiteface Mountain, New York
New York's Whiteface Mountain and the Skyward run have unbeatable views over the snow-dusted forests of the Adirondacks.
"Skyward is one of my favorite runs because it's steep, wide open and for my money you can't beat the view anywhere in the world," says Andrew Weibrecht, Super G bronze medalist at the 2010 winter Olympics.
Watch out for: Pros who flock to this scenic run.
Rating: Black diamond
6. Adrenalina, Valle Nevado, Chile
Located on the Cima Ancla peak, this one is for experts looking, as the name suggests, for a date with adrenaline.
You get to it by taking the new Valle del Inca lift.
Other good runs located on the nearby Tres Punta peak are also accessible from the base of this run.
Watch out for: Pretty alpine architecture.
Rating: Black
5. Grand Solliet, Sainte Foy, France
"This French ski run is deceptive," says Fall Line magazine editor Nicola Iseard.
"On paper it doesn't look that exciting -- a long blue piste that starts at the top of the Marquise chairlift.
"But, when it comes to letting your skis run fast on a sunny, often empty slope -- crowds in Sainte Foy are rare -- it seems to go on forever. It gives access to some awesome off-piste sections through the trees, too."
Watch out for: The time -- it's best to hit this run late in the day.
Rating: Blue
4. Glen's, Snowbird, Utah
"Glen's is steep, challenging and gets tons of snow -- truly world-class terrain," says MtnAdvisor.com editor Derek Taylor.
"Glen's will always have special significance as it was renamed last year after Glen Doherty, the Navy SEAL who was killed defending the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012. Prior to joining the SEALs, Doherty spent a lot of time at Snowbird, and was a beloved member of the community."
Watch out for: Unexpected steep stretches that have caught many skiers and snowboarders unaware.
Rating: Black diamond
3. Ventina, Cervinia, Italy
Cervinia is a family-friendly resort, and although this run has a difficult rating, at any other resort it would be a moderate.
Its beauty lies in its length (five miles) and universal appeal.
With a total drop of 1,430 meters, it's suitable for beginners and speeders, who can whiz down its wide-open spaces.
Watch out for: Children. Best in the afternoon when ski school is finished for the day.
Rating: Red
2. Dave Murray Downhill, Whistler, British Columbia
This one hosted World Cup Downhill and Super-G races from 1993 to 1995 and was used again at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
It was named after a former Canadian ski team member and Whistler's director of skiing.
Steep, fast and spectacular are the words our expert panel use to describe it.
Watch out for: Icy patches and steep sections.
Rating: Black
1. The Stash, Avoriaz, France
This Avoriaz slope is part-tree run, part-terrain park.
No. 1, as chosen by experts.
Jake Burton, founder of Burton Snowboards, helped design its layout.
"My favorite run in the world is The Stash," says Becky Menday, a member of Great Britain's Freestyle Snowboard Team. "It takes you through the trees and has fantastic natural wooden features for you to session all the way through it."
Watch out for: Trees.
Rating: Unrated