America's Killer Slopes

From heart-pounding to heart-stopping: trails guaranteed to make even professionals think twice

It’s somewhat of an unspoken truth among avid skiers and boarders that they’re all a little crazy. Just ask anyone who’s not involved in the sport. “Let’s get up a huge mountain, strap one or two boards to our feet and fly down as fast as we can, yeah?” Sounds incredible, and dangerous—and it is both.

The risk of pushing your limits brings an intense rush, and danger is always a rather silent element. It is up to the individual to be aware of the risks, stay within his or her skill level and know when to take that walk of shame away from the edge.

Slideshow: Killer Slopes

Resorts and ski areas are not monitored by the government and are not obligated to report mortality or injury statistics to the public. The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), a trade association for ski area owners and operators, maintains its own statistics, which leave out an unknown number of deaths such as those in the backcountry. They report that “during the past 10 years, an average of 39.6 people per season have died while skiing or snowboarding at a ski area.” Johns Hopkins University estimates that there are roughly 600 thousand reported ski or snowboarding injuries per year.

But statistics don’t stop athletes from doing what they love. Expert skiers, skilled boarders and the crazy challenging trails they love are still going strong. So talk yourself up, don’t look down and get ready for our list of killer slopes.

Editor’s note: The criteria for judgment included factors such as pitch of the slope (in degrees), vertical drops, obstacles (type and frequency), grooming, reputation and current events. This list is not scientific, nor is it dependent on the numbers of injuries or deaths (uniform mortality information is not always reported or entirely accurate). Final judgment is based on the opinions of our editors and other experienced skiers and snowboarders. What do you think is America’s most deadly slope?


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