If snow sports is your thing, or if it’s something you have never attempted before,we’ve come up with a list of fabulous suggestions of where to hit the pistes first.
Europe is home to some of the world’s most amazing runs, meaning you don’t have to travel far to experience the best skiing experiences that the world has to offer. Regardless of whether you prefer the stunning landscapes and gentle descents, or seek the thrill of rapid drops and adrenaline-pumping speeds, we’ve rounded up the best European ski runs to inspire your next holiday.
Sweden: Piste 4
It’s inarguable that Scandinavia offers some amazing ski opportunities. If you fancy a challenge you can always head for Piste 4 at the Riksgränsen ski resort. This is a top run found in the Swedish Arctic Circle and visiting in spring means you get to experience long days, midnight sun and a top terrain for freestyling! It won’t be long before you will be launching off the natural bumps of the Riksgränsen slopes. If you do make the effort to head to Piste 4 you won’t regret it. Here, you will glide into Norway before looping back around during your descent! How is that for adventure?
Why not start your ski adventures at what was believed to be the birthplace of Alpine Skiing – Parsenn. This Swiss skiing favourite offers a little bit of everything. Take your lift passes and take the funicular railway, built in 1931, up to the 2,662 metre Weissfluhjoc, then enjoy the landscapes and gentle terrain as you ski down a maximum gradient of 26%.
Apparently the longest black run in the Alps is ten miles in length. Here, you get around 90 minutes of intense and continuous skiing starting from the 3,330-metre Pic Blanc but before you begin your descent, make sure to check out the stunning peaks of the Parc National des Ecrins.
This is an exhilarating run where you’ll have the chance to take on a drop of 2,000 metres. However, watch out for the launch — it’s very steep!
Austria: The Streif
A word of caution, don’t try this if you’re a beginner! High up on the Hahenkamm mountain, the Streif hosts one of the most hazardous races in the World Cup — essentially, this is one of the world’s most feared runs and definitely not one to try if you have never hit the slopes before!
You’ll find yourself almost at a freefall as you begin your 3,300-metre descent from the top of the Streif. Before you know it, you will be facing 85% gradients as you speed along at approximately 84mph! The course is about 3,312 metres in length in total, with an average gradient of 27%. It’s quite a challenge so you might want to consider some private lessons before taking it on! Want to see what the The Streif is all about before you tackle it? Watch the documentary film was made about it in 2015 — Streif: One Hell of a Ride.
Switzerland: Mont Fort
Mont Fort in Verbier is a tough challenge for any skier so you might want to get a little experience before hitting this run. Here, you will experience a 1,300-metre descent along 3,329 metres, and it is generally considered the most challenging of Verbier’s pistes. Mont Fort has many bumps and is extremely steep thanks to its lack of machinery maintenance, making it the ultimate test of your fitness and expertise.
If you can handle it, Mont Fort is breath-taking and offers an exhilarating experience that you won’t get on many other runs in the world — try it at dawn for spectacular views of the sunrise over the nearby mountains and glaciers. Another advantage of Mont Fort? Its location. Verbier is probably one of the world’s most luxurious and party-centric resort — ideal if you want to make this a rue skiing holiday with a mix of activity and relaxation!
France: Aiguille Rouge
France is home to some amazing ski runs, one of which is Aiguille Rouge — the tallest peak in the Les Arcs resort. At 3,226 metres in height and with a vertical descent of over 2,000 metres, this run is classified as black at the top and red a third of the way down.
You get extraordinary panoramic views of the Italian Alps here. Although, it’s best to take on Aiguille Rouge at the very start of the day, as cable car queues get busy quickly! Luckily there’s good quality snow everywhere on the Aiguille Rouge.
Italy: Sella Ronda
With potentially the very best views of the Alps, the Sella Ronda is found in the Dolomites. This long-distance circuit is a breath-taking experience for both beginner and seasoned skiers.
View limestone cliffs and open pastures as you make your descent down the Sella Ronda, made up of around 14 miles of runs looping around a huge crag linked by lifts. It’s a run you can do easily in a single day. Don’t miss catching a glimpse of several villages along the way and, if you fancy a different perspective, you can even attempt it from the opposite direction too!
If a rush is what you are seeking, you are in for an adrenaline-pumping test of your skills on the Lauberhorn. Here, you’ll begin from the 2,500-metre apex and descend 4,500 metres in just 150 seconds! Supposedly, the Lauberhorn is the fastest run in the World Cup. However, there’s much more to contend with than steepness — there’ll also be a 130-foot jump that catapults you into the air and speeds of nearly 100mph — enough for g-forces to come into play.
Anything that’s named after a samurai ritual for suicide must be approached with caution. At 1,500m in length, the Harakiri run in Austria is found in the resort of Mayrhofen and usually has an icy centre with more easy-to-grip snow at the edge. This Austrian run is supposedly the steepest groomed slope in the world with an average gradient of almost 80%!
Similar to many other runs, the beginning is the scariest. The main tip from experts on tackling this run is to keep your weight on your outer ski and try to decrease your speed whenever possible to reach the bottom in a vertical stance. In other words, plenty of specialist ski lessons are essential!
France: Pas de Chavanette
Can’t choose between Switzerland and France? Why not get the best of both worlds by visiting Pas de Chavanette — also called the ‘Swiss Wall’ — on the French-Swiss border? This popular 200-metre ski run is based at the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski area and features swift drops and steep angles — so much so, your vision might be slightly obscured at times!
This run is an ungroomed run and its difficulty level relies on the season. Ski on a decent layer of snow and you will glide effortlessly — but beware when the run is icier and bumpier, as only experienced skiers will be able to hold themselves upright and make the necessary emergency stops when required. Are you up for the challenge?
There’s a decent mix of runs that are perfect for beginner, intermediate and experienced skiers here. However, there are plenty more European runs you can visit if you look around. Why not plan a visit to Chill Factore prior to your departure to make sure you have the necessary skills to make the most of your ski holiday adventure?