1. REVELSTOKE, B.C. From the top of the Stoke Chair, hike straight up the Sub-Peak for great North Bowl turns. Pick from a variety of chute options—Drop-In, Sweet Spot, Unlimited Assets or Meet the Neighbours. Drop-In is a favorite. Traverse across North Bowl using the Drop-In entrance to get to Greely Bowl (pictured). Try Discipline, Mania, or Powder Assault, from which you can access the bottom of North Bowl. From there you can either head left up a Hike Back Route to the blue run Chopper or weave your way through the Back 40 Glades. Or head right into Baxter's Gully, just inside the resort boundary. All spit you out at the bottom of the Ripper Chair. From the top of the Stoke Chair you can also head skier’s left for fresh turns on Hot Sauce, Roller Coaster and Jalapeño.
2. MAMMOTH, CALIF. Known for its wide-open, high-alpine bowls, Mammoth is a great place to get a feel for the backcountry. The terrain on either side of Chair 23, including Scotty’s and Cornice Bowl, has great cornice drops. For some serious steeps, ride the Panorama gondola. From the 11,053-foot summit, head skier’s left to Climax, or for an easier out, opt skier’s right for Dave’s Run.
3. SQUAW VALLEY, CALIF. From the top of the expert-only Silverado triple chair, traverse the ridge to skier’s right back toward High Camp and enter Bailey’s Cirque through Gate 4. Or continue to Gate 5, where you can drop into Tram Bowl. Cliff bands stretch across Bailey’s and Tram’s, about 50 feet from the gate, so line selection is key. Be warned: Miss any of the narrow gullies that snake through the rocks, and you’ll face mandatory big airs.
4. VAIL, COLO. Take your pick of back bowls: This is the place that defined the term. From the top of the Northwoods Chair, head skier’s right and drop into Sun Down Bowl or go straight to Sun Up Bowl. For the best snow and smaller crowds head to Mongolia Bowl. To get there, head up the Orient Express Lift and traverse along the Silk Road catwalk, then ride the Mongolia Palma Lift and pick your line at the top. Be aware that with the exception of blue terrain in China Bowl and the catwalks, nothing else is regularly groomed.
5. SUGARLOAF, MAINE The sprawling, treeless expanse that gave Route 27’s “Ohmygosh Corner” its name is Sugarloaf’s Snowfields. The East’s only lift-served above-treeline terrain, the Snowfields feel like the deep backcountry. From the top of the Timberline Lift, hike over the ridge to the backside and drop onto the nearly 100-acre canvas. The terrain is rugged and steep, so it’s never groomed. Weave through the open glades that sprout up toward the
bottom of the fields to find untouched pockets.