Corbet’s Couloir ON THE EDGE: A view from the edge of Corbet's Couloir in Jackson Hole, Wyo. When you push off to begin this run, you push off into a 20-foot freefall. (Photo: trpnblies7/Flickr)

You make think snow is made mostly of water. But dumped on the right terrain, the fluffy white stuff is about 60 percent adrenalin. Breath-taking drops, rocks and trees that threaten life and limb and the power of gravity combine with crisp white snow to create hairy, scary, black diamond ski runs.


If you’re fit, experienced and have really good health insurance, consider making a winter run down one of America’s five scariest black diamond ski runs.


Black Hole – Smuggler’s Notch, Vt.

Touted as the only triple black diamond run in the Eastern United States, the Black Hole is steep — a 53-degree pitch — and offers glade skiing at its most intense. Not only do you have to keep from falling, you have to keep from slamming into a pine tree. Here's a tip: Don’t look at the trees; look at the white space between them.


Corbet CouloirCorbet’s Couloir – Jackson Hole, Wyo.

While many skiers bomb down the slopes hoping to “catch some air,” you have no choice but to catch some BIG air on this legendary run (at right), frequently mentioned on lists of most extreme black diamond ski runs. When you push off to begin this run, you push off into a 20-foot freefall. Once your skis hit snow, you must control your descent down a 45-degree slope.


Great Scott – Snowbird, Utah

Little Cottonwood Canyon gets about 500 inches of dry, powdery snow each season, but that doesn’t do much to cushion a fall on this run. Steep at 40 degrees or so, Great Scott is an obstacle course of rocks and trees. And you likely won’t be able to see below your knees because of the deep powder.


Paradise – Mad River Glen, Vt.

Forty percent of the terrain at this New England skiing icon is rated expert, which explains the bumper sticker: "Mad River Glen. Ski it if you can." Paradise begins with an eight-foot drop and continues through a steep obstacle course of trees, rocks and, often, ice. (This is East Coast skiing after all.)


Rambo – Crested Butte, Colo.

This resort in southwestern Colorado boasts 542 acres of in-bounds, double-black diamond terrain. Plenty of runs for thrill junkies. Rambo earns its manly moniker by being crazy steep — a 55-degree slope. If you’re wearing a hat, you’ll lose it here.


Know of other scary ski runs in the U.S. or around the globe? Leave us a note in the comments below.


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Photos: pixculture/Flickr; dpstyles™/Flickr