It’s a commonly known fact that not all runs were created equal.
Most runs are great, they are fun, you have a good time but they are nothing extraordinary.
But sometimes you come across a run so exciting, some breath-taking, so exhilarating that you want to go back to the top and do it again before you’ve even reached the bottom.
If you’re looking for those extra thrills and spine-tingling chills then welcome to your ultimate bucket list of the best ski slopes around the world.
The Hahnenkamm is widely recognised as the most epic run in the world and is a must-do for any skier.
It is the hardest run in the World Downhill Championships and has a reputation for flat light making the tricky slope even more difficult.
When it isn’t being used in the championship, most of the run is actually a red but it contains some super-fast sections so if you aren’t very confident then make sure to check your speed.
The Streif is the most famous section and has hosted the epic ski downhill races for over 80 years.
Saying you’ve skied the Hahnenkamm is definitely a way to impress friends at the bar.
Le Vallee Blanche, Chamonix
On a nice sunny day there is nothing quite like the Vallee Blanche.
An intimidating start which is definitely only for advance skiers soon gives way to a smooth bowl of deep powder and stunning views.
Stopping to look back up the mountain, you’ll be shocked by the chunks of bright blue ice from the glacier which pierce the snow like shards of glass.
No wonder its recommended to have a guide for the trip.
You’ll need avalanche equipment too and allow for several days of delay.
If the conditions aren’t right, you won’t be allowed out.
The slope is accessed out a small back door of a view platform which means you’ll most likely have an audience as you head out.
At the bottom, there’s a viewing platform for those who just want to look at the glacier rather than ski it so you’ll have an audience at the end as well.
Corbet’s Couloir, Jackson Hole
Corbert’s Couloir is known for its terrifying and intense start.
The 3-metre drop is intimidating but those who pluck up the courage say it’s actually quite enjoyable.
It’s a well-known run as it sits in full view of the tram so it’s a good one if you want to be brave with an audience.
The rest of the slope is fairly easy going and lots of cut across sections mean others can join the run halfway down.
But to say you’ve skied from the very top is definitely a rite of passage!
The Face, Val d’Isere
The Face is both an imposing name and an imposing slope.
The black-rated piste came to public awareness when it hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics.
Several competitors said the slope was too steep for the event but the show went ahead anyway thanks to extra gates which forced racers to slow down.
And so, the challenge of the Face was born. At 3km long it isn’t the longest of runs but the 71% gradient makes it a worthy entrant on this list.
It is often icy in the mornings and slushy in the afternoon so many try to tackle the piste in the middle of the day for the best conditions.
Hidden Valley, Cortina
The hidden valley in Cortina doesn’t exactly live up to its name.
It may be hidden in terms of location but it’s actually a well-known area of the mountain. Luckily, as it sits a 20-minute bus ride away from Cortina, not many people make the journey and the run is often empty.
The run itself is a is one of the most stunning in the Dolomites.
The raw power of the rugged peaks means the entire 8km run is an absolute pleasure.
As the run is often deserted it’s a truly peaceful and relaxing way to get back to nature.
At the end, there is a horse-pulled drag to bring you back to the main Sella Ronda circuit.
The whole experience is an enjoyable way to get back to the elements and the exhilarating delight of skiing on a peaceful mountain without all the fuss.
Named after a slang term for the Japanese suicide ritual, standing at the top of the Harakiri slope in Austria may make suicide seem like a reasonable alternative.
The Harakiri is the steepest slope in Austria at a massive 78% gradient.
Although its full length is 2km, the step section is only 400m long. 400m where you’ll need nerves of steel.
The run only officially opened recently because no one new how to get snow cats up to groom it.
The answer was found in 2003; a special machine on winches and ropes is pulled over the slope. And so the legendary challenge was born.
If you do manage to pluck up the courage to tackle the slope then it may well be the highlight of your winter season.
The slope demands respect and that’s what get in return once you’ve completed it.
Pic du Midi de Bigorre, La Mongie/Bareges
Until recently, if you wanted to ski the Pic du Midi de Bigorre you had to go with an official guide.
Although you no longer need a guide, it is advisable.
Not only for safety but also because it’s far more enjoyable to be guided down the best parts. You still need to sign a disclaimer though!
The long off-piste comes off the highest lift-served point in the Pyrenees.
The Pyrenees is not known for its epic runs but this truly is an exception.
The views from the top (where an observatory are located) are breath-taking and the run itself is close to perfect. It’s so long it takes around four hours to complete and is full of little diversions, jumps and detours.
It’s a truly thrilling day and one of the hidden gems in the Pyrenees worth finding.
The Wall, Avoriaz
If you’re looking for a technical challenge then The Wall in Avoriaz is the one for you.
Not only is it very steep, it’s also covered in giant moguls.
When there is fresh powder the run is a bouncing thrill from top to bottom.
But when the snow is scare, it can be a hair-raising, icy adventure.
Many people stand at the top to watch so you’ll no doubt have an audience and often the slope is filled with people determined to tackle the demanding piste.
It’s definitely a run that everyone should take on at some point. Bonus points for anyone who tackles it in its iciest state.
Cenidor, Marte and Mercurio, Las Leñas
Although sections are technically not counted as official pistes, the unnamed run passing through Cenidor, Marte and Mercurio in Las Lenas is a once in a lifetime experience.
The nameless route is one of the longest in the world at a massive 15 miles.
It’s not actually too tricky in terms of technical skill required but that doesn’t make it any less epic.
The length means there is plenty of time for cruising through fresh powder and enjoying the infinite feeling of being untouchable.
The views are as epic as the route making it one of the most spectacular runs in the world, as well as one of the longest.
Piste 4, Riksgränsen
Skiing Piste 4 in Riksgransen is a truly magical experience.
Not only is it in the arctic circle, it also crosses into Norway for a section.
From late May you can ski under the midnight sun for a truly out of this world ski experience.
The run itself is not that difficult but it is a pure joy to ski.
Natural bumps and undulations covered in fresh powder make the run one of the most fun on this list.
Many die-hard skiers come here to enjoy the fast, fun slopes so the mood on the run is exuberant and intoxicating. It’s a run you’ll never forget.
Summit to Sea
Not limited to one run in particular, summit-to sea-skiing is an incredible experience few ever get to enjoy.
Most epic slopes have a great view of the mountains but skiing in Northern Norway gives you a stunning view of the vast sea.
Getting a helicopter to the top and skiing all the way down to the sea is a great way to experience the true height of a mountain.
Often the only option is to go off-piste which means you can glide over fresh powder for what feels like eternity.
The purity of no lifts, no people and the vastness of nature really gets your adrenaline pumping and makes a summit-to-sea experience unlike anything else.
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