by Frank V. Persall
If you’re new to skiing, you could be forgiven for thinking that this sport involves nothing more than getting to the top and skiing back down, but that couldn’t be more true. This is a versatile sport that is made up of many forms, including bowl skiing. But what exactly is a ski bowl and what on earth is it for?
Bowl skiing is a type of skiing that is done on the side of a mountain on a bowl-shaped piece of terrain. Different ski bowls are larger than others and require a greater level of experience to ski on. Sometimes, they may be as large as an entire side of a single mountain!
Of course, there’s a lot more to it but we are going to cover everything you need to know about bowl skiing as well as introducing you to some of the best ski resort options for skiers who want to test their skills in the ski bowl.
Bowl skiing is a term that is used to describe skiing on a certain sort of terrain on the side of the mountain. When you visit your favorite ski resort, you will notice that, as you move up the mountain, the terrain starts to change. When you are at the bottom of the mountain, there tends to be a lot of foliage and trees. However, as you ascend to the top the terrain begins to open out and there is a lot more space for skiing.
In particular, this area of the mountain is referred to as the bowl, quite simply because it is similar to the shape of a bowl. This terrain often has powder snow that is beautiful to ski on. In fact, many experienced skiers will tell you that bowl skiing on this powder snow brings them some of the best skiing days of their lives.
The best way to describe a ski bowl would be to say that skiers can literally ski around the inside of it. Depending on the mountain, the terrain will vary with some ski bowls being 360º whereas others are considered to be half bowls. In any case, bowl skiing is an unforgettable mountain-side experience.
If you have never skied on this type of terrain before, it stands to reason that you may feel a little nervous. But the good news is that there are ski bowls that are suitable for beginners, just as there are those that are considered to be a little more challenging and geared more towards experienced skiers.
There are also different ski bowls with varying levels of intensity to get to, some of them require a lengthy climb up the side of the mountain so this is worth keeping in mind.
Furthermore, bowl skiing needs to be tackled carefully since the terrain can change so rapidly. At some points, you will be gliding across powder but that powder can quickly change to solid crud in the blink of an eye. The issue is that, unlike other areas of the ski resort, the terrain on this part of the mountain is not tended to and is much more natural.
Across the United States and Canada, there are some excellent ski resorts that offer a variety of activities. For skiers that are looking for the beautiful powder snow and natural beauty, there are many that offer bowl skiing.
If you are looking for a resort that offers bowl skiing with a huge range of terrains then Big Sky Resort has got it all. With six ski bowls, this resort offers everything including some tricky tight chutes. What’s more, at more than 11,100ft, you get a breathtaking view.
At Copper Mountain, you will find four double black diamond bowls, each of which gives you a different type of terrain to try out. There are those which are much steeper and ideal for the thrillseeker whereas some of the less challenging ones are great for family time.
Alta is a beautiful maintained and remote skiing resort that boasts some great opportunities for bowl skiing. Here, visitors can try out the world famous wildcat ski bowl and if you’re feeling a little unsure, this resort is renowned for its top class ski lessons.
For people who are looking for a ski bowl that offers versatility, you won’t be left disappointed at Arapahoe Basin. Here, you will find the Montezuma Bowl that boasts a range of chutes, tree skiing and wide open skiing space with amazing views.
At Sun Valley, you will find several ski bowls on Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain including the amazing Sepps Bowl. Conditions here guarantee gorgeous powder snow all year round and the resort caters to every level of experience.
Snowbird is considered to be one of the best resorts for powder skiing in North America and as such, attracts a huge number of annual visitors. Here, there are some epic chutes and crazy bowls that will certainly give even the most experienced skier a run for their money.
If you want a bowl skiing experience that includes incredible views that go on for miles, then a visit to Whistler Blackcomb is a must. There are seven bowls with varied terrain that caters to all levels of ability.
Located on the Southeast side of Mount Washington, Tuckerman Ravine has some impressive bowl skiing on offer. This is a great place for trying out steep bowl skiing as in places, the steeps can go up to 55º!
Vail is one of the most famous skiing resorts in the world and with seven back bowls, you won’t be short on choice. The resort covers more than 3000 acres and offers bowl skiing for a wide range of levels. Check out the Outer Mongolia bowl for intermediate levels.
If you are an advanced skier then you will likely take great pleasure from trying your skills at bowl skiing on the Black Iron Bowl at Telluride. However, there is also the opportunity for less experienced ski enthusiasts to try out their powder talents on the Revelation Bowl at the back end of the resort.
Bowl skiing is a form of skiing that is done on the natural terrain of the mountain where things can go from rough to smooth in seconds. With powder snow and much thicker terrain, skiers are certainly treated to a challenge. The ski bowl is essentially a higher point of the mountain where the ground creates a bowl-like shape that can be skied around.
There are many excellent resorts across North America that offer bowl skiing so if you fancy trying your hand at this, why not check out some of our skiing articles to get you prepared?
About Frank V. Persall
Originally from the UK, Frank has a passion for skiing and anything snow related. He is currently on a never ending mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the the World. Frank is happiest when he is on ski slopes with his wife and three children.