Top Ten Extreme Ski Slopes
Perched at Lake Tahoe's northern end, Squaw Valley is the signature resort in a region blessed with alpine bounty—14 downhill and seven cross-country centers spackle the Sierra Nevada range some 200 miles east of San Francisco. Host of the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw is hailed as the birthplace of American-style extreme skiing, born there in the eighties.
The 4,000 acres of above-treeline bowls and chutes are steep and well-deserving of their extreme reputation. While most of its black runs are relatively short, the teeth in Squaw's bite is the air time—100 feet if you've got the cajones to go for it—that at times will seem more like throwing yourself down a mine shaft than alpine recreation. One such gauntlet, the Palisades, is where the extreme stars of tomorrow are born or, quite literally, crushed. Ominously, they're closed on weekends for fear of luring weekend warriors to their demise.
To reach the Palisades, ride the Headwall or Siberia lifts to the top of Squaw Peak. You'll then need to do some legwork to reach the summit of the flat-topped peak and gain entry to the northeast-facing Palisades, a series of ever-narrowing chutes that lace the cliff. If you simply want to watch the action on the Palisades, which have starred in countless extreme skiing flicks, remember that they loom center stage above the well-trafficked Siberia Bowl, giving you that perfect front-row seat.
2002-03 lift pass: $58
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication