Mama Mia, That's Steep!

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Dark Corridor

Photographer Chris Figenshau estimates the couloir to be 3,500 vertical feet.

"It gets only about 30 minutes of sun per day," says pro skier Micah Black. "The snow in the first section was the best."

1) "You can see this ribbon of snow as you drive into Cortina," says Figenshau of the monster couloir, which is part of Italy's Dolomiti Superski interconnect.

2) Black and four others started hiking at 6 A.M. Figenshau shot from an opposing ridge. "I couldn't spot them without my 450-mm lens. I thought they'd look bigger, but they were just specks up there." Says Black: "The walls must have been 500 feet tall in some places."

3) There's a tiny window when the temperature and snowpack make the couloir skiable. "The sun can heat up the snow on the rocks," says Black. "And when small slough falls, big slough is bound to follow." Danger: Slough from above could mean death from above.

4) Black skied the couloir in about eight minutes, stopping only a handful of times. "I love couloirs," he says. "This one was a Lord of the Rings sci-fi fantasy experience-one of the best I've ever skied."


FEBRUARY 2006