Attention all adrenaline junkies! Our ski programme is home to many of the world’s most electrifying (read terrifying) ski runs. It’s not the spooky ghosts and ghouls or horror films that give us nightmares, it’s the idea of skiing these terrifying runs on our ski holiday.
For the most fearless amongst you, we at Inghams have come up with our top five scariest ski runs that are bound to make you howl. From Austria’s steepest black piste to Banff’s most extreme freeride zone, we dare you to tackle these hair-raising, spine-chilling, blood-curdling ski routes!
The Harakiri, Mayrhofen
A ghastly gradient of 39° at its steepest section, the Harakiri ski run in Mayrhofen is Austria’s steepest black piste, and is certainly not one for the faint-hearted. Numerous signs warn of the impending danger but the top of the Harakiri is actually pretty gentle, enticing the more curious skier or snowboarder…
… But don’t be deceived, this is an incredible challenge for anyone whose ski technique is anything less than advanced!
Due to its cliff-like nature, any snow simply slides down the slope, creating incredibly icy conditions - it’s either carve hard or freeze up with fear. Often, a skier will make it down… but not always in style! Equipment inevitably follows a fall and, at the end, the unfortunate skier is reunited with gloves, sticks, skis, goggles that found their own route down.
Practice on Piste No. 12, the not-so-extreme Devil’s ski run. The steep part at the end is known amongst locals as the Harakiri Test. If you can make it down that, you are ready to face The Harakiri.
The Swiss Wall, Avoriaz
Despite its name, The Swiss Wall is in the French part of the Portes du Soleil and is one of France’s most terrifying ungroomed ski route. They say we fear the unknown, but in the case of the Pas de Chavanette (as the locals call it), chances are the less you know, the better.
Perhaps thankfully, as you pause beside the warning sign at the top, the initial gradient of 40° hides your immediate view. It’s only when you commit do you see the rock-solid, blue-tinged icy patches navigating their way between car-sized moguls that cover almost the entire run… this piste certainly has the fear factor!
Think you’re ready to take on The Swiss Wall and still stay smiling? Our tip is to head up the Fornet chairlift for decent mogul practice. Here you’ll find the less threatening SnowCross Pschott and SnowCross Marmotte. Make sure you work on some sharp twisting and turning, and high-level control, so that you’re not spooked when it comes to The Wall.
Delirium Dive, Banff
The local ski patrol won’t even let you ski this double black diamond run unless you have the appropriate protection. To ski Banff’s infamous Delirium Dive skiers are obliged to carry a backpack, avalanche beacon, shovel and probe in case of emergencies when they traverse the treacherous, narrow chutes.
This “exscream” freeride zone is restricted to super expert skiers and snowboarders who’ve had avalanche training, and even they aren’t allowed to ride it without a buddy. The view from the top will make you quake in your ski boots: the slope is seemingly endless and gradients range upwards of 60°!
If none of the above sounds petrifying enough to you, then perhaps the hair-raising 200km hike along a narrow, icy ridgeway to the top of the slope will do it? No wonder the route was named one of CNN's most extreme ski runs in the world!
Verbier’s frightful Chassoure-Tortin run has to be one of Europe’s most notorious mogul fields, a true test of leg strength - there’s no time for trembling knees here!
As with all these ski runs, the nightmares Tortin induces depend on the snow cover. Because of its northern exposure and high altitude it is iciest in the mornings. But beware! The scaredy-cat skiers amongst you may shy away from tackling Tortin at this time, but in the afternoons the moguls that form are enough to give you the chills.
This ungroomed run starts with a long, icy, rocky traverse that will take your breath away - the secret is to jump straight in at the beginning of the traverse, where it’s steeper but you’re more likely to stay upright.
The rest of the route is wider, but it’s a minefield of irregular, choppy clumps of snow that actually get worse the further down you make it. To survive, you need to carve hard and concentrate fully. Ignore the devil on your shoulder, who sits there enticing you to give up and slide down on your bum. This run demands respect!
Gran Risa, La Villa
La Villa’s Gran Risa ski slope is far more likely to give you the goose bumps than the giggles! The legendary black piste in the heart of The Dolomites has been host to the FIS World Cup Giant Slalom, one of the great classic competitions of Alpine skiing, since 1985.
It's frighteningly fast and demands an exceptional level of technical skill. Sharp bends, plentiful blind spots, a gradient of up to 60° in places, and a horrifyingly hard top layer of ice make this run one of the most challenging slopes in the Ski World Cup.
Amateur skiers and snowboarders may be tempted to follow in the footsteps of their ski heroes but, at over a kilometer in length, almost the entire Gran Risa lies in the shadows, hidden within the woods of Alta Badia - this ski run is a thriller, and no one’s gonna save you now!