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Every ski mountain has its claim to fame when it comes to its steepest slope: Rambo at Crested Butte (Colorado), Lookout at Stowe (Vermont), and Limelight at Sun Valley (Idaho). But thrill-seekers searching for the steepest slopes in the world will have to extend their radius.
Defining the single steepest slope in the world is nearly impossible, as all of these runs have multiple routes including various drops, cornices, gradients, and lengths. Read on for a detailed list of the top six steepest, most challenging routes in the world.
6. Delerium Dive
Sunshine Village, Canada
Located in idyllic Banff, Delirium Dive is widely known as Canada’s steepest run. It’s 1300 meters long, with a drop of 533 meters.
What sets it apart from all the other runs on this list is the requirements to ski it. While Sunshine Villiage’s Ski Patrol does use avalanche mitigating techniques on the run, Delerium Dive is much more similar to backcountry terrain.
Therefore, every skier is required to be equipped with avalanche gear and to bring a buddy along. So, grab a friend (or a ski instructor) before setting out on this plunge.
There are multiple ways to enter Delerium Dive: the easiest is Delerium Proper, and perhaps the most difficult is Bre-X. From there, you can pick your line and make it as hard or as easy as you want (although saying something is easy on Delerium Dive is relative).
5. La Face de Bellevarde
Val D’Isère, France
La Face de Bellevarde is another downhill ski race course that challenges professionals and aficionados alike. It was first used professionally at the 1992 Winter Olympics for the Men’s Downhill and has since become one of the most famous runs in the world.
The run is about 3,000 meters with a vertical drop of 959 meters. It’s so steep that using La Face for the Downhill was extremely controversial.
Many thought it would be better used for Super G, but with the addition of extra gates to slow racers down, the 1992 Downhill would become one of the tightest races of all time. The top 3 medalists were separated by .05 seconds each.
Those familiar with La Face recommend skiing it between the hours of 12 pm and 2 pm. In the morning, the ice is bulletproof and it softens into soupy moguls in the afternoon.
|Vertical Drop:||959 meters|
4. Corbet’s Couloir
Jackson Hole, USA
Contrary to what one might expect, Corbet’s isn’t named after the first person who skied the run (that was Lonnie Ball). Instead, it’s named for mountaineer Barry Corbet, who laid eyes on the chute in 1960 and famously said, “Someday, someone will ski that.”
And he couldn’t have been more right! Every year, thousands flocked to remote Jackson Hole, Wyoming to try their hand at perhaps the most famous run in the United States.
The true challenge of Corbet’s Coulior comes with the terrain at the beginning of the run. The cornice leads into a 10 to 20-foot freefall, depending on the amount of snow on the trail.
It lands in a narrow chute between two rocky faces. After the first drop, the chute mellows into a relatively average expert run, with a 45% gradient.
Despite the difficulty of Corbet’s, people don’t just ski the pitch; they ski it with style. Check out this year’s Kings and Queens of Corbet to see the most impressive entrances off the famed cornice.
|Max Gradient:||55%, with a 10-20 foot freefall to enter|
|Length:||Dependent on Route|
|Vertical Drop:||Dependent on Route|
3. The Swiss Wall
Porte de Soleil, France
The Swiss Wall, also known as Le Mur Suisse and La Chavanette, is one of the most famous runs in the Alps. It is located on the border of France and Switzerland and can be accessed from either country.
The first 50 meters of the Swiss wall are heralded as the most difficult, as it is the steepest and most narrow section of the run. After this section, the run flattens out; just make sure you don’t kill your legs at the beginning.
Due to its steep gradient, the Swiss Wall is not groomed, which certainly adds to the difficulty factor. Depending on conditions, it can be flat and icy, or covered with massive moguls.
It is often a mogul-laden run, so make sure your bumps skills are immaculate before attempting this run. Taking the chair for your first time is always recommended so you can scout conditions from above.
The best time to ski the Swiss Wall is in the spring when the moguls have softened up and the snow is more forgiving. But if you are a great mogul skier and have confidence in complex snow conditions, you’re bound to conquer the Swiss Wall (and enjoy the subsequent bragging rights).
|Vertical Drop:||331 meters|
If the Harakiri’s name doesn’t clue you in immediately to the challenge, you probably don’t know its translation. It literally means “stomach-cutting” and is an alternate word to the Japanese ritual suicide, seppuku.
It’s located on Mount Penken and only opened recently, in the 2003-2004 ski season. Supposedly, it is the overall steepest run in the world.
In addition, what makes it so special is that it is groomed in its entirety. It is packed with artificial snow starting at the very beginning of the season and kept flat for the rest of the year.
Grooming diminishes avalanche risk. Combined with the fact that it’s a relatively wide-open run makes it is one of the best runs for expert skiers to let loose with their carving skills.
Compared to the Strief, Harakiri is quite short, coming in at only 1500 meters. However, it has a drop of 360 meters in that short time.
Make sure that you don’t fall victim to the Harakiri’s steep slopes by testing out your abilities on the second steepest run in Mayrhofen, Devil’s Run. Only after skiing Devil’s run successfully should you try out Harakiri.
|Vertical Drop:||375 meters|
1. The Streif
The Streif is often heralded as the steepest groomed slope in the world, boasting a max gradient of 85% over more than 3,000 meters and a total vertical drop of 860 meters. It’s located on Mount Hahnenkamm in Austria and is one of the most challenging downhill race courses in the world.
Because of its use in the world cup, the trail has been split into sections and analyzed by experts. It begins with the Startschuss and Mausefalle, which are 160 meters long and have an average gradient of 51%.
After this, skiers will enter the steepest part of the run, the Steilhang. Racers will hit speeds between 110 and 120 kilometers per hour in the Steilhang.
The following pitch is much flatter, known as the Brückenschuss and Gschöss areas. Racers struggle to carry their speed on these pitches, while the rest of us can take a moment to catch our breath after the heart-stopping steeps of the Steilhang.
The rest of the run takes on a winding route, with various sharp turns. These turns have all been analyzed to the smallest degree by experts and are known as the Seidlalmsprung, Lärchenschuss, and the Hausberg Querfahrt.
The final slope of The Strief is known as the Zielsprung, where a final steep enables racers to reach speeds up to 150 kilometers per hour.
|Vertical Drop:||860 meters|
Remember, if you want to try your hand at these, ask locals about the second steepest slope on the mountain for a test run and to check the conditions. These runs are no joke, and you want to make sure that you’re being as safe as possible when you try them.
And there you have the top 6 steepest ski slopes in the world. Have fun, and enjoy the ride! It’ll be a fast one.
While you’re here, check out the 13 Hardest Ski Runs in the World.