Thrill-seeking skiers looking for an adrenaline rush don’t have to travel very far for some of the world’s more adventurous slopes. Europe offers a selection of the most famous runs so that adrenaline-pumping ski action can even be enjoyed on a weekend break not too far from home.
The Highest Runs The Vallée Blanche is Europe’s highest ski route, located in Chamonix and possessing a ski lift at a heady 3,842m. It takes skiers up Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe, with the route back down the glaciers into Chamonix being all off-piste. The run is famous for being one of the most scenic in the Alps as well as for its obvious danger element, being completely unmarked and unmaintained. It starts with an exposed ridge walk down from the lift and should be completed with a guide, as it involves skiing through narrow areas between crevasses. The run also takes the title of longest route in the World meaning that it is great for a ski weekend with more uninterrupted ski time and less time on the lifts.
(The amazing Vallée Blanche) The Espace Killy Ski area shared by Tignes and Val d’Isere comes in just shy of Chamonix’s record, with the highest lift being at a height of 3,456m. Here, there are also 27 black runs for the more experienced skiers who are after the bigger thrills.
(The Espace Killy) The Fastest Run ‘The Flying Kilometre’ is found in the Paradiski area and hosts the Speed Ski World Cup with a course record of 156mph. Speed skiing is the second fastest non-motorised sport in the world and when not hosting the professionals, the run can be tried out by those looking to embrace the fear factor on the slopes. It all begins with a near free-fall and concludes with a survival medal awarded when completed. Less accomplished skiers can even give it a go, as all it requires is being able to hold a racing stance whilst reaching speeds faster than the motorway speed limit!
(‘The Flying Kilometre’ in Les Arcs) The Steepest Run The Pas de Chavanette in the Portes du Soleil Ski area, also known as ‘La Mur Suisse’ (The Swiss Wall), is definitely one for the braver skiers with a starting gradient of about 50 degrees that leaves nothing to the imagination. After a snowfall, the skier traffic on the run creates moguls that can reach the size of cars, making the route even more difficult to navigate; whilst its exposed position means that snow can turn into ice quickly for a more treacherous descent. This one is ‘for experts only’ as the sign dictates at the top.
(The Pas de Chavanette) This link is packed with great ideas and offers for your Ski Weekend: http://www.igoski.co.uk
The French Alps are renowned for some of the most challenging black runs and off-pistes available, where the steep gradients are certain to test the legs of even the most advanced skiers. Choosing the location of your next short ski break carefully can allow you to ski the best of the advanced runs in one weekend. Click here for some really good ideas & offers for your next ski weekend. We have listed some of the highest gradient slopes in the Alps; hopefully inspiring you to brave your next adventure: The Swiss Wall ‘The Swiss Wall’ is found in the Morzine-Avoriaz ski region and comes with the warning ‘For experts Only’ at the top. Those that aren’t put off by the sign might have second thoughts when they see the 50˚ angle of descent ahead of them! After the first few turns on the huge moguls at the top, the slope widens out for the remaining 200m. Conditions are difficult when it’s icy, so it’s best to attempt earlier in the day and after a fresh snowfall. Chamonix Chamonix is an extreme skiers playground, boasting the pick of the steep couloir runs and some high gradient glacier skiing. The Glacier Rond is a popular decent down the Northwest face of the Aguille du Midi with a slope of 45-50˚ for 800m of the trail. Alternatively, the Cosmiques Couloir is accessed from the same start location. In perfect conditions you can ski straight into the couloir, otherwise it requires three abseils before you can clip on your skis and descend the 45˚ gradient. Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckv0mBTVHuo La Poubelle Couloir, or ‘The Dustbin,’ is renowned for its challenging descent. It requires skiers to brave a 30m abseil over rocks to access the snow, so it’s best attempted with some mountaineering experience and a guide. Once on the snow, the 40-45˚ gradient will put your legs to the test on the way down to the lower slopes of the Pas De Chevre. La Plagne The North face of the Bellecôte in the French resort of La Plagne is a testing 35˚ to 45˚ in places, making for an adrenaline pumping descent down the mountain. This is an off-piste run, so hiring a guide will allow you to explore the best areas of the mountain. Meribel Meribel is part of the huge Three Valleys Ski area and so there are plenty of steep gradients to challenge the advanced rider. The Couloir Tournier used to be an off-piste route, but the resort has removed some of the trickier obstacles and turned it into a black run with an initial gradient of 37˚. Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU5ni9UTvlI For prices, ideas and more information about how to get to these places, get in touch! Call us on 0203 393 4671, or e-mail us.
[caption id="attachment_2590" align="alignnone" width="650" caption="Les Gets ticks all the Ski Weekend boxes"][/caption] One of the requirements of a good Ski Weekend resort is that it's close to the arrival airport, and Les Gets certainly is that. Just an hour from Geneva, this Portes du Soleil town's location means that just three and a half hours after leaving the UK you can be in your chalet, getting ready to go out on the piste! Being part of the huge Portes du Soleil ski area, it's 650kms of pistes stretching from France into Switzerland, the skiing and boarding is genuinely some of the very best in the Alps. From high peaks via natural halfpipes, long shustes and tree runs, to epic powder fields, the PdS has enviable variety to match it's immense scale. However, Les Gets itself plays a big part in making the town such a strong short break favourite. As a resort, this pretty town is open both Winter and Summer, which means that it has an array of shops, bars, restaurants, sports and other facilities that few winter only towns can hope to offer. From hotels with excellent facilities to archetypal slopeside ski chalets, Les Gets' Ski Weekend accommodation matches the quality of the Portes du Soleil to a tee.