Every time the Winter Olympics rolls around I can’t help but look at some of the sports and wish my body could do. When I was first approached about posting about ski runs I was dubious about how I could possibly make it work and realised that although it’s not something I’m ever going to do, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a sport that my readers take part in. This post is all about the top ten ski runs in Europe which I’m hoping some of you will find interesting and you may even find a new ski destination you hadn’t thought of before.
Mont Fort, Switzerland
Mont Fort, Verbier, Switzerland provides a run which is 1,300m from top to bottom and is considered to be the most challenging of the pistes in Verbier. It takes four cable cars (yes four and a lift pass)to reach the summit but you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of glaciers and sudden descents.
The Streif, Austria
The Streif can be found on the Hahenkanm mountain which hosts one of the most hazardous races in the world cup and is described by many as one of the most feared runs in the world. This run was the star of a documentary in 2015 entitled – Streif: One Hell of a Ride and with 85% gradients, the name is no surprise. You’ll also find a 3.3km descent where you’ll be doing speeds of up to 84% so this is not for the faint of heart.
Pas de Chavanette, France
This run is often referred to as the ‘Swiss Wall’ and is famous for its 200m ski run which is at the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski area on the Swiss-French border of the Alps. This run features rapid drops as well as some angles which are so steep you might struggle to see what’s coming towards you as you descend. The difficulty level does depend on the time of year and conditions. With a decent layer of snow it will be effortless but if it’s icier then expert skills will be required.
This Austrian piste is 1,500m in length and often icy in the centre with the easier to grip snow being found around the edges. It’s in the resort of Mayrhofen and is named after the samurai ritual of committing suicide which is potentially a reference to the fact that it’s the steepest groomed slope in the world with an average gradient of 78%. Make sure you have some skiing lessons before attempting this one. Definitely not for the beginners out there.
Grand Couloir, France
Grand Couloir is the only Courchevel couloir to be classed as a run on the piste map even though it’s the broadest and easiest of the three. At 900m in length and with a slope gradient of 85% the first challenge to deal with is the steep path which leads from the cable car station in La Saulire which can be especially dangerous if the conditions are icy.
Aiguille Rouge, France
The Aiguille Rouge – which translates to Red Needle — is the tallest peak in the Les Arcs resort. The run is classified as black at the top and red once you reach a third of the way down. It has a length of 8km and a vertical descent of over 2,000m. One of the best things about the Aiguille Rouge is the panoramic view of the Italian Alps, Pierra Menta, Mont Pourri, and extraordinary Mont Blanc.
The joy of the Ventina run is that it’s suitable for both beginners and pros. What the Ventina piste offers is a long descent and shallow gradient that allows you to truly take in the truly incredible views around you. Although, your legs might feel like spaghetti after tackling the 11km run. There is a gentle descent and a total drop if 1,430m which is ideal for families and groups.
Hidden Valley, Italy
Hidden Valley is a paradise for skiers that enjoy the beautiful scenery as much as the activity they are taking part in. Skiing here makes you feel totally isolated from the world with the Dolomite peaks towering over you. The run begins at the peak of Lagazuoi (2,750m) and features a gentle descent scattered with sights of frozen waterfalls and riverbeds. An excellent run for novices and one of nature’s best stress-busters.
Piste 4, Sweden
Piste 4 at the Riksgränsen ski resort is a run that needs some very good timing if you want to give it a go. As it’s based in the Swedish Arctic Circle, the lack of sun means you can only ski here between mid-February and mid-summer. However, if skiing under a midnight sun sounds like your thing, Piste 4 is where you need to head. Freeskiers love launching off the natural bumps of the Riksgränsen slopes. The bonus with giving Piste 4 a try is that you’ll actually glide into Norway before looping back around during your descent.
If you’re a confident skier and feel the need for adrenaline-inducing sports then the Lauberhorn is the run for you. This is supposedly the fastest run in the World Cup where you start from the 2,500m summit and travel 4.5km in just two and a half minutes. On your descent, there’s a 130-foot jump that catapults you into the air to contend with, and you’ll reach speeds of around 99mph — enough for g-forces to come into play. If you can handle it, it will be an exhilarating experience.