10 Stupidly Gnarly-Sounding Piste Names

Body Bag, Agony, Widow Maker - but how many actually live up to their name?

D.O.A. in Whistler backcountry. The name doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence, does it? Photo: Justin Lamoureux

Piste names. They come in all shapes and sizes – funny, terrifying, incomprehensible and sometimes just plain deceptive.

Take Le Tunnel in Alpe d’Huez for example. It sounds pretty tame but don’t be fooled. It’s one of the longest black runs in Europe – fine when it’s sunny but as soon as the ice sets it, it’s a veritable death trap.

The Europeans don’t quite have the same overactive imagination as the Americans when it comes to naming pistes. Agony, Jaws of Death, Deathstar and Delirium Dive are among some of the favourites we’ve Yankee titles encountered. Do they actually live up to their name? That’s for you to decide.

As Chris Moran said in his Whitelines’ issue 100 column, “there’s nothing quite like watching an elderly American couple rag-doll down a ‘blue’ run named Bellecôte which is actually a rock-strewn, 50-degree mogul field.”

It’s this that inspired us to find the gnarliest-sounding piste names in the world. We asked you guys to chip with the best you’ve encountered and these were the results… The real question, however, is which of these bad boys would you take on?

1) Harakiri – Mayrhofen, Austria

…and it looks icy as! Photo:

Harakiri is one of the most notorious runs in the world. The word “hara-kiri” comes from the Japanese ritual samurai suicide by disembowelment using a sword. So pretty much as gnarly as a name can get, right? It’s a 78 per cent grade, it’s 1500m long and it’s the steepest piste in Austria. One for the ‘To Do’ list then…

2) Agony – Sunday River, Maine, USA

Agony? Pfffft. Photo:

Great name for a run, but from what we can tell there’s very little that is agonising about ‘Agony’. Sure it’s a bit mogul-y. But hell, there are more moguls on the blue runs to Avoriaz during Christmas week.

3) Jaws of Death – Mt. Snow, Vermont, USA

Not quite akin to the watery beast… Photo:

This is the Hollywood movie of piste names. You can imagine it being said with one of those impossibly deep, dramatic movie trailer voices: “The Jaws of Death, destroying knees since 1958″. It looks distinctly underwhelming, don’cha think?

4) Body Bag – Crested Butte, Colorado, USA

Body Bag is definitely up there with the more gruesome titled pistes – and it really is as sketchy as it sounds. This rock-strewn, tree-lined vertical nightmare has seen punters and North Face Masters competitors alike tackling its disgustingly difficult face. Would you give it a go?

5) Devil’s Crotch – Breckenridge, USA

Check out the Devil’s Crotch drop off, second from the left. Photo:

Devil’s Crotch sounds delightful, doesn’t it? I don’t know what you picture when you think of a Devil’s Crotch but it ain’t good.

The plummeting verticality of Niagara Falls crossed with the smell of chicken thighs left in a warm car for three days, perhaps? Apparently the piste is pretty gnarly too. Narrow, icy, ungroomed moguls. Where do we sign up?

6) Mother-in-Law – Sunshine Village, Banff, Canada

This photo doesn’t quite do it justice. Photo:

Who ever said Canadians don’t have a sense of humour? We’re not sure whether they’re recommending you send your mother-in-law down or referring to the nightmarish ride, but either way this name is one of our favourite. Apparently it’s referred to by the local ski patrol as Pam’s… I’d love to know the story behind that one.

7) Balls to the Wall – Mammoth Mountain, California, USA

Balls to the Wall from top left. Photo:

How could we go without including Mammoth Mountain’s Balls to the Wall? A title crafted with pure literary genius. Some might call it poetry. If that doesn’t convey the sheer verticality of the face, I don’t know what will.

8) Widow Maker – Falls Creek, Australia

Looking over the top of Widow Maker. Photo:

Falls Creek, Australia may not have the altitude that some of the other resorts listed here do, but that doesn’t mean it can’t indulge in death-defying names like Widow Maker here. It might not look like much, but we’ve heard it there are some pretty hefty rocks to dodge. However, do correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any widows have been made in the riding of this run.

9) Upper and Lower Hades – Purgatory, Colorado, USA

It doesn’t look that bad… Photo:

You can’t beat the American tendency to give resorts really gnarly names, like Suicide Six, and then whack a family friendly tagline next to it. On this train of thought, welcome to Purgatory!

Upper and Lower Hades are just two runs that continue the theme of heaven and hell in this bizarrely titled family resort. Other piste names include El Diablo, Pitchfork, Pandemonium and Grizzly Gulley.

10) Disease Ridge – Whistler-Blackcomb Backcountry, B.C. Canada

Disease Ridge looking pretty peak-y… Photo: Blake Jorgenson/Whistler Blackcomb

There’s some really sick lines on Disease Ridge (pun very much intended). When it comes to the Whistler-Blackcomb backcountry, it probably very much lives up to its name. We can’t quite believe it but apparently the chutes that come down it are called Gonorrhoea and AIDS….

And a few honourable mentions…

The drop in at Delirium Dive. Fancy it? Photo:

There were too many to choose from, so we’ve rounded up a few honourable mentions to give you one final laugh:

Delirium Dive – Sunshine Village, Banff, Canada

Satan – Les Deux Alpes, France

Alligator Pit – Mammoth Mountain, California, USA

Organ Grinder – Sugarbush, Vermont, USA

Deathstar – Mt. Baker, Washington, USA

D.O.A.  – Whistler-Blackcomb Backcountry, B.C. Canada

Mug’s Alley – Glencoe, Scotland

Have you come across any more to add to our list? Leave them in the comments below.

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