“Bored on the same old black diamond? Keen on the world’s craziest skiing? Head to one of these insane runs- if you dare.”
There is skiing for fun, and then there is skiing for the unrivalled thrill that comes with doing something crazy that few people are skilled enough to manage. When your old favourite black diamond slopes feel like bunny slopes, it might be time to literally take a plunge down one of the world’s most daring ski runs.
1. Corbet’s Couloir- Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Many have satisfied their curiosity about this slope just by peeking over the edge and shaking their heads at the very thought of stepping over. You have to literally leap out into the ether for a 9 metre vertical drop before touching down to the 50° pitch below. It runs for 107 metres at an altitude of 3,185 metres.
2. Delirium Dive- Sunshine Village, Banff, Canada
This slope is completely off-piste and starts with a horizontal rock bed followed by a 50° pitch – perfect conditions for avalanches. You will not be permitted through the gated access point unless you are fitted with a shovel, collapsible avalanche probes, and a radio transponder – just in case rescuers need to find you buried under snow. You also need another brave soul to accompany you from the 2,731 metre altitude all the way down the 610 metre run. Conditions vary by the hour.
3. Black Hole – Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
This is the only triple black diamond slope in the United States. At an altitude of 1,109 metres it is a daring obstacle course of trees to slalom around at high speed down a 53° pitch.
4. Grand Couloir – Courchevel, France
Getting here is half the battle. From the cable car at 2,738 metres, you need to cross a 200 metre ridge that is often slicked with ice and has steep drop offs on either side. Once there, you head down the chute.
5. La Grave – France
This one has a fitting name, ‘Doug Coombs’, one of extreme skiing’s greats met his end on this killer slope. Set off at an elevation of 3,962 metres. There are no trails, just thrills. There are over 2,134 vertical metres of mountain to navigate with vertical cliffs and crevasses cut hundreds of feet deep into the mountain. Unless you have a death wish, hire a guide to help get you through safely. You need to be equipped with everything from rappelling gear to ice crampons to a radio transponder. This is not a feat to undertake lightly.
6. Harikiri – Maurhofen, Austria
Here is another slope with a name that signals its dangers. Harikiri is the name of a Japanese suicide ritual. It runs at a 38° pitch for 396 metres. A fall on this slope means you will not stop until you hit bottom.
7. La Face – Bellevarde, Val d’Isere, France
This is a legendary slope that is often host to various World Championships, including the 1992 Winter Olympics Men’s Downhill, so you will be heading down the path of the greats. Its setting is known as the Most Beautiful Ski Area in the World, but do not let the moniker deceive you. You will start at an altitude of 2,809 metres and head down an exhilarating 2,905 metre mogulled track, including a 972 metre vertical drop.
These are slopes to be conquered by people who are not only truly expert skiers, but incredibly daring ones at that. Each provides an adrenaline rush for the ages, but remember these are not to be attempted by anyone less than an expert when it comes to skiing.