What is a classic? Does it have to be hard? Scary? Popular? Should the access be easy or does it need to be memorably tough? I don’t have answers to any of these questions, but I do have this list. It’s my best crack at a directory of Canadian Rockies steep (or at least steepish) skiing classics, plus some extras that I feel are worthy of recognition for whatever reason.
I don’t have a hard and fast set of criteria here, but I did ask myself a few questions before listing a line as a classic. Each bolded line has some combination of ski quality, aesthetics, uniqueness, challenge and renown that speaks to me in some (completely subjective) way.
Currently there are a total of 100 lines, which feels like a nice round number to keep it at.
I’ve attempted to sort the lines by region, link to trip reports where I’m aware of them and made the following legend to help organize things a little. Hopefully this all provides some inspiration. Feel free to let me know what I missed. I haven’t skied every line on this list (obviously) so expect it to evolve over time as I work through it.
I have not included anything that hasn’t been skied yet – you can go find that on your own. Nobody has ever skied every line on this list and I’m pretty confident in saying that nobody has come even close. It would be a hell of a lifetime goal for an incredibly motivated completionist.
Bold and underlined– No question uber classic. Best of the best. Must ski if you have the means and opportunity.
Bold: Really, really good line. Still contains all the elements that make a classic, but may be lacking that wow factor. Let’s call these tier two classics.
Regular text: Above average lines for one reason or another, but debatable for inclusion as classics. These have some but not all the elements of a true classic. Good history, testpieces, wildly popular, sandbags, etc. Go check them out for a very worthy adventure.
*: A reference to lines mentioned in the old Biglines.com classics thread, which was the original classics list for many of us. Alas, the thread is no more.
[#]: Links to trip reports, interviews, press, etc. Please report dead links in the comments.
Revision 1: Added Cascade S (classic), Cascade E and Hall of Records in place of Baker N, Phantom Couloir and Niles S. The count remains at 100 and I don’t think any of the three I removed are particularly special.
Revision 2: In: Mind Shaft, Kindergarten Couloir (classic) and High School Couloir, out: Dogleg Couloir (Crowfoot), Pearl Necklace (Cathedral) and the Mt. Gray Couloirs. This revision was a tougher call, but I feel the three inclusions are worthy, and more appealing to more people as ski lines. Revisions 1 and 2 cover feedback I got after sharing this list initially. I’m pretty happy with the list now, so I’ll likely leave it alone for a while except to add links for beta and stories.