For advanced skiers seeking a thrilling challenge, Europe boasts some of the most difficult ski runs in the world. The Streif in Kitzbuhel, Austria, is widely considered the most intense and fearsome downhill piste on the planet, with steep gradients, gnarly jumps, and daunting turns. Other notable challenging runs include La Chavanette in Avoriaz, France, also known as “The Swiss Wall,” featuring a nearly vertical drop and knuckle-twisting moguls, and Harakiri in Mayrhofen, Austria, with an average gradient of 78%. For experienced skiers and snowboarders looking for a true test of skill and courage, these ten runs are a must-try.
The 10 Most Challenging Ski Runs in Europe for Advanced Skiers
Skiing is an exhilarating pastime that combines the thrill of speed with the beauty of winter landscapes. For the advanced skier, nothing quite beats the rush of navigating a tricky and technical run. Europe boasts some of the most challenging pistes on the planet, and for those looking to push their limits, here are the top 10 most difficult ski runs across the continent.
1. The Streif, Kitzbühel, Austria
The Streif is widely considered to be the most fearsome downhill piste in the world. This legendary run is part of the annual Hahnenkamm race, where skiers reach speeds of up to 85mph over steep gradients, gnarly jumps, and intimidating turns.
2. La Chavanette, Avoriaz, France
Also known as “The Swiss Wall,” La Chavanette is one of the steepest runs in Europe. The run is famous for its seemingly vertical drop and knuckle-twisting moguls. Experienced skiers and snowboarders can attempt this as part of the larger “Portes du Soleil” ski area.
3. Corbet’s Couloir, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
While not strictly in Europe, Corbet’s Couloir is a classic in the skiing world. The run is a narrow chute that gets even steeper as it approaches the bottom. Skiers must jump off a four-foot cornice to enter the run, and the landing zone is always a bit rocky.
4. Harakiri, Mayrhofen, Austria
With a name that translates to “suicide,” Harakiri is one of the steepest groomed runs in Europe. The run has an average gradient of 78%, making for an intense and pulse-pounding descent.
5. Grand Couloir, Courchevel, France
Grand Couloir is not for the faint of heart. This run is steep, technical, and not recommended for inexperienced skiers. The gradient reaches over 45 degrees, and the run is littered with ice patches and moguls.
6. The Wall, Avoriaz, France
The Wall is another challenging piste in Avoriaz. The run features a 600-metre vertical drop and an average gradient of 39 degrees. The run’s steepness, icy moguls, and narrow chute make it a test of a skier’s skill and courage.
7. Balea-Lac, Transylvania, Romania
Skiing in Transylvania might not immediately come to mind, but the Balea-Lac run is worth the trip. Known for its steepness and bumpiness, the run requires careful navigation over ice patches and unexpected curves.
8. Piste des Champions, Chamonix, France
Chamonix is home to several challenging runs, but Piste des Champions stands out. This steep, narrow, icy run was once the training ground for Olympic champions, making it a test of skill and nerve for any skier.
9. La Grave, France
La Grave is not for casual skiers. The run is unmarked, unpisted, and unpatrolled, meaning skiers must have experience and mountaineering skills to tackle it. The run requires navigating narrow couloirs, rock outcroppings, and ice fields.
10. Great Scott, Snowbird, Utah
Aside from Corbet’s Couloir, Great Scott is one of the steepest runs in North America. The run features sustained pitches and tight turns, with a steep drop toward the bottom. Skiers must have exceptional control and precision to safely navigate the run.
These 10 runs represent some of the most challenging and thrilling pistes in Europe and beyond. Advanced skiers looking for a true test of skill, endurance, and courage should add these runs to their bucket list. Whether you’re seeking steep drops, icy moguls, or narrow chutes, there is a challenging ski run out there to push your limits.