For wannabe ski-pros, holidays in the snow must consist of only the most intense and adrenaline-fuelled slopes. These are the black runs: hallowed slopes suitable for only the most seasoned of skiers.
Be it the sheer size of the black run, or the overall lure of adventure, thrill-seekers are hooked on these scary descents. Here are some of the most heart-pounding of the bunch.
With a 78 per cent incline, Harakiri is Austria’s steepest slope. With a vertical drop of 375 metres, and spanning an overall length of 1,500 metres, it’s little surprise this black run’s name means ‘ritual suicide’ in Japanese. You’ll experience speed and adrenaline as you fly down, but make sure you don’t overestimate your skills! The real element of surprise is in the finish, as you head into the steepest pitch…
Kill the Banker, Canada
The most vertical slope in North America isn’t your average black run. Kill the Banker comes complete with its own waterfall, which skiers must jump halfway down the slope. Not only that, but Kill the Banker is steep, scary and littered with rocks, boulders and little cliffs. It’s a challenge to tackle, but one seasoned skiers will relish.
Le Tunnel, L’Alpe d’Huez
Le Tunnel, sitting among the breath-taking landscape of L’Alpe d’Huez, holds the title of ‘longest black run in Europe’. The drops are vertical and the descents start at an ominous 3,300m, while the tunnel itself runs right through the rock face. Soaring through is an experience like no other, prepping your nerves for the bumpy descent to follow.
Face de Bellevarde, Val d’Isère
Val d’Isère has long been the haunt of champions, with its most revered ski run, Face de Bellevarde, built for the 1992 Winter Olympics. Understandably, this makes le Face a challenge for even the most experienced skiers. It’s a serious thigh-burner, running for 2,905 metres and boasting a vertical drop of 972 metres. Ice sheets and lurking rocks are both part of the territory, but if you take the slope at your own pace, even intermediate skiers can conquer it.
La Chavanette, Portes du Soleil
This 700 foot slope has been known to instil fear in even the most confident skiers. In fact, this slopes initial gradient is so steep that, from the top, you can’t even see what lies beyond the edge. A sign reading ‘For experts only’ says it all: littered with large moguls (mounds of snow) and sheets of ice, la Chavanette isn’t to be underestimated.
Surprisingly, Tortin is rated as an intermediate piste. It’s actually one of the most complicated black runs in Switzerland, becoming increasingly dangerous the further you descend. On the best days, the powder will absorb the shock to your legs, but on the worst, ice and huge moguls present a serious challenge.
Would you be confident enough to tackle any of these heart-pounding black runs? Maybe you’ve already taken to one of these slopes and emerged victorious? Let us know!