If you’re a thrill-seeker or want a challenge, then the best steep terrain is what you need. Ski resorts around Europe have different slopes that will test advanced skier’s skills. Whether you’re looking for a mogul field or a narrow steep pitch, there’s are many different black runs to enjoy. Our ski experts have created a guide to the best black runs in Europe. We outline some of the hardest ski runs in Europe.
One of the best black runs in Europe is The Swiss Wall that starts in Avoriaz, France and finishes in Les Crosets in Switzerland. As you stand at the top of the slope you can’t see the end of the challenge because of the steepness involved. The run is 1km long and has a 331m vertical drop. The run starts with a narrow 40-degree pass that runs for about 50m. Most days you will encounter moguls the size of cars as you try to make short, controlled turns during your descent.
The end of the run becomes a lot wider but there are rock drops to navigate (they are signposted). During the black run, the moguls continuously come at you. Intermediates and beginners can take the lift down if they want to miss out on the run. It’s one you have to tick off the list when you visit the Portes du Soleil ski area.
The Champagne Run is the longest continuously pisted ski slope in the world. Located in Alpe d’Huez, the run is 2,200m long and is a real thigh burner. To get to the route you have to take several lifts from Vaujany up to the top of Pic Blanc, which takes 45 minutes. It is worth the wait though because you descend onto a mixture of black of red runs which tests your skiing skills. If you can do it without stopping it takes roughly half an hour to complete. High up it can be a mogul field and lower down there’s normally heavy snow to navigate. It is one of the hardest ski runs in Europe.
Harakiri is the steepest ski run in Austria, with an average gradient of 38 degrees for 78% of the run. The slope in total is 1,500m long and has a vertical drop of 375m. Unlike most black runs in Europe, the Hairkiri is hard-packed, north-facing and wide. This makes it easy to pick a line and not have to navigate as many other skiers on the slope. The slightly easier Devil’s Run nearby is a good warm up slope to try before you take on the Harakiri. It is a challenge worth doing if you ever visit Mayrhofen and one of the hardest ski runs in Europe.
The Grand Couloir is a legendary black run in Courchevel. It’s unique to have a couloir as a marked slope on the piste map. To get to the run you have to follow a narrow undulating traverse to get across to it. The main challenge is to stick on that traverse across without falling over or head down harder couloirs to the side. The start of the run is 35 degrees gradient and fairly narrow, but eventually, it flattens out to 30 degrees towards the end. Depending on the conditions the moguls can vary in size. It is definitely one of the hardest ski runs in Europe.
A lot of ski resorts have changed some of their black runs to unclassified and you have to ski them at your own risk. Verbier has several challenging runs that are set up like this. The main one is called Tortin. You have to hop on the Lac des Vaux 3 chairlift to the Col de Chassoure to get to the slope. It is often an icy slope but is wide and steep. There are often big moguls to navigate through the run as well. It is a fantastic challenge for the advanced skier and is one of the best black runs in Europe.
When you watch the world’s best slalom and giant slalom skiers struggle on this slope on the World Cup, you know it’s tough terrain. La Face in Val d’Isère has a gradient of 17.8 degrees for 31% of the run. There is no flat section just steepness for just under 3km long with a vertical drop of 959m. In the morning it can be bulletproof ice on cold days but it often softens up after midday. If you want to tick off one of the hardest ski runs in Europe then La Face is a slope you have to attempt.
Part of the Dolomites ski area, the Saslong black run is a legendary ski course. The alpine World Cup regularly visit Val Gardena to put the world’s best speed skiers through one of the hardest tests on the circuit. Its total vertical drop of 839 meters has an average overall gradient of 24% and a maximum of 56.9% at the very start of the course. There are also bumps towards the bottom of the slope to navigate. All of this whilst you’re surrounded by some of the most iconic mountain ranges in the world.
Mürren’s black number 10 is one of the longest black runs in Switzerland and is part of the famous Inferno ski race. Brits annually get together and do a timed ski run across Murren that’s open to the public since 1928. There is a mixture of flat and steep sections and is a real leg burner. Even parts of it were the location for the iconic James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. If you can ski the whole route in under 40 minutes you’ve done well.
This run was built as a backup slope for the 1956 Winter Olympic Games and is now known as a fantastic challenge. Located in Cortina, quite simply this is one of the most spectacular marked terrain you can attempt. It is a steep 3km slope that really makes you feel you’re travelling through the Dolomites. Part of the run is a narrow track that has a 64% gradient and is sandwiched by huge walls of towering limestone rock. There’s no other slope like it in the world, which is why it’s one of the best black runs in Europe.
To find out more about the best black runs in Europe, please call our ski experts on 0207 471 7700.
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