Meet some of the most challenging ski slopes around the world
Are you a fan of the black or diamond runs? Or would you rather just observe the heroes battling the challenging ski slopes?
Where on our planet are the world’s steepest and most challenging ski slopes, the ones that offer skiers plenty of pleasure and a lot of fear at the same time? The ski slopes that get your adrenaline pumping and your heart racing? Reserved only for the experienced skiers, the black or diamond runs are known for their bizarre gradient (more than 40%) and moguls.
1. THE STREIF, Kitzbuhl, Austria
Well, who doesn’t know the infamous Streif? The annual venue for one of the toughest downhill runs in the Alpine skiing World Cup is just the story in itself. In 1937, Austrian skier, Thaddäus Schwabl, won the opening event of the Streif’s first ever race, with a finishing time of 3:53.1 minutes. The current world-course record was set by Fritz Strobl in 1997 with an impressive time of 1:51.58 minutes.
2. AL’S RUN, Taos ski valley, New Mexico
Al’s run is the first run you see when you arrive at Taos Ski Valley. The slope is named after Dr. Al Rosen, a local from the past who would ski it wearing an oxygen mask. The slope has a vertical drop of around 500 m and two steeper sections, one at the top and one at the bottom. Again, the slope is full of moguls, but you have enough space to turn. The good thing is you have a way in and out of the slope, so you can avoid the steepest parts. But the run is right under chairlift 1, so be prepared to have all eyes are on you while skiing it.
3. DELIRIUM DIVE, Sunshine Village, Banff, Canada
This completely free-ride terrain is one of North America’s most scary, hair-raising challenging ski slopes. Alpine playground for the advanced skiers and snowboarders only, demands excellent avalanche and snow knowledge. Before you even access the free-ride zone, you need to be fully equipped with avalanche gear and have a ski partner at your side. For those brave enough to tackle the track, the reward of beautiful views and acres of varied terrain awaits.
4. MONT FORT, 4 Valles, Switzerland
On the top of 3,330 m high Mont Ford, the symbol of the 4 Valles ski area, you have an incredible view of some of the most famous mountains of the Alps, from Matterhorn to Mont Blanc. The ski slope that awaits is a difficult one. Because of its steepness it is not groomed, so get ready for the moguls. Don’t worry if you reach the top decide against tackling the slope, you can always take the cable car back down and admire the view!
The slope is 1,780 m long and has a vertical drop of 380 m.
5. PARADISE, MAD RIVER GLEN, Fayston, Vermont
The slogan of Mad River Glen is “Ski it if you can” and the area was ranked as the most challenging on the East coast of the United States. It starts with an almost 3 m drop onto 38 degrees slope that is never touched by the machine. On the way down you bump into everything, from trees to frozen waterfalls. So, be prepared for a crazy and bumpy ride!
6. THE TUNNEL RUN, Alpe D’Huez, France
In Alpe D’Huez, you can enjoy the longest black run (16 km) in Europe. Sarenne offers you a gorgeous 30 min skiing with amazing views and pure pleasure. But from the top of Pic Blanc (3,330 m) you can also ski down to an altitude of 3,000 m and access a 200 m long tunnel that is a genuine cave cut out of the rock. Once you are out of the tunnel, take a deep breath before you hit the steepest mogul run in France. You don’t want to slip on that slope you will soon find yourself sliding down and unable to stop. And moguls can be a nightmare.
This slope has 220 m of vertical drop and a maximum gradient of 35 degrees.
7. CORBET’S COLOUIR, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The expert slope, Corbet’s Colouir was spotted in 1960 by Jackson Hole’s ski instructor Barry Corbet, who remarked, that “Someday, someone will ski that.” It is located right beside the tram, so expect a lot of eyes on you if you dare to drop in. Corbet’s Colouir is about 3 m wide with rocks faces on three sides. The entrance into colouir requires dropping off the cornice with a free fall ranging from 3 to 6 m. But you have to know that the drop is much bigger than it looks like in the pictures, so it is not rare to see a first-timer turn back around after once standing and looking over the edge.
8. LA CHAVANETTE, France/Switzerland
Also known as the “Swiss Wall”, La Chavanette is one of the most challenging ski slopes in the Port du Solei ski area, exactly on the border between Switzerland and France. The slope is 1 km long and has a vertical drop of 331 m. It is rated as orange color, simply because it doesn’t fit the standard classification of difficulty.
You start at an altitude of 2,151 m and right away you are facing an inclination of 40 degrees (90%), a very narrow slope, and moguls that can be enormously high (sometimes the size of a small car). The surface between the moguls can be pretty icy so that doesn’t make it any easier. If you want your adrenaline pumping, you can continue in between two rocky areas, where the width of almost 10 m gives you a feeling you are in a very steep halfpipe.
9. HARAKIRI, Mayrhofen, Austria
The name of this slope speaks for itself. It is a Japanese word for ritual suicide by samurai. It is the steepest groomed slope in Austria, about 1,500 m long and with a vertical drop of 375 m. With an incline up to 78%, it is a real challenge. Besides good technique and overall physical fitness they also recommend sharp edges and a helmet.
10. HOLZRIESE, 3 Zinnen, Dolomites
The steepest slope in Italy is considered the scariest slope even among some professionals. It is 270 m long and the vertical drop is 304 m. With the maximum inclination of 72%, it is a challenge not only for skiers but also for the staff members. Only the bravest from the maintenance team know how big of a challenge it is to groom a slope like this one.
Are you ready to take on one of these challenging ski slopes? Or have you already been skiing there? Let us know in the comments below or head to Ratoong to find or rate ski resorts!
Love always, The Ratoong Team.