At Kirkwood, which has received more than seven hundred inches of snow in some places this season, it's hard to narrow the runs to one that is gnarliest: After all, this unique mountain has two miles of ridgeline where cornices form and extreme skiers gather. But gnarly is not just about the dropoffs, which Kirkwood offers in plenty. It's about the steeps, the deeps, and the terrain. For the best combination of all three, go up on a powder day, take Chair 4, and hang a right, skirting high above the gentle ravines where the blue pansies roam. Your goal is a series of vertigo-inducing chutes off Thunder Saddle, just below the formidable Thimble Peak. Any one of these will do -- but one at a time, please, because even Two-Man Chute allows room for only one knee-shaking snow-rider. Drop between the rocks or off the cornice, if there is one on your lucky day, and you'll be propelled straight into the basin of Eagle Bowl, where, if you survive, a fresh stash of powder awaits. Unfortunately, if you want to do it again, you're faced with a traverse and two chairlift rides to return to the back side -- but it just may take that long for you to catch your breath.
KT22, Squaw Valley