Scary ski runs are a dime a dozen in Europe; most black runs are terrifying in the wrong (right?) conditions, and even the occasional red can be a little off-putting if it’s got moguls that are almost as tall as you are. With that fear factor in mind though, which runs go above and beyond that, to be crowned the scariest in Europe?
The Strief, Kitzbuhel
This is the scariest run on the downhill calendar, and it’s so famous that there’s a film about it coming out this year. It’s unnervingly steep and has played host to some of ski racing’s hardest crashes through the years. At the steepest pitch, racers are catapulted into the air, and while your everyday skier isn't quite as likely to take to the air, it's fearsome enough for anyone.
The Swiss Wall, Avoriaz
This run can take some serious building up to face, its difficulty is well known enough that there are articles about people "conquering the wall". It can seem either easier or harder than its reputation suggests, depending on how the snow conditions are; in bright sunshine the Swiss Wall is only terrifying for the first few turns, while in poor visibility the run can seem impossible.
Grand Couloir, Courchevel
Most people who have taken a trip to Courchevel have seen this run. It’s the only one of the three Courchevel couloirs that is currently pisted, and it’s the easiest of all of them. Don’t be fooled into thinking that means it’s actually easy though; this run is wickedly steep and if it’s been heavily skied then the moguls can make it incredibly tricky.
This run is much easier if it’s got full snow cover. With that said, when the run isn't fully covered it can be more than unpleasant, filled with rocks and moguls. The moguls are easiest at the steepest part of the run, but the whole bowl provides a number of different options for those braving Tortin.
Famed for being the (supposedly) steepest ski run in Austria. This is a solidly scary 78 degrees at its steepest point, and it’s not for the faint of heart. In fair weather and good snow conditions, this run is fantastic. In bad conditions it’s a challenge for almost any skier.
Le Tunnel, Alpe d’Huez
Alpe d’Huez might be home to the longest black run in Europe, but it’s Le Tunnel that gets the nod in our nine scariest runs. The setting is dramatic and the run is either entirely benign, or absolutely awful. In soft powder your only worry is the first few turns, but when the run is icy, every misstep can mean a terrifying 200m fall.
Face de Bellevarde, Val d’Isere
Once upon a time (in 1992) this was the men’s Olympic downhill run. It’s fast, long and if it’s icy or mogully then it can be incredibly difficult. From the top the run looks deceptively easy, and no one part of it is spectacularly steep or challenging. This is more of an all-round scary ski run.
La Grave, France
Yes, this is a resort not a run. The skiing here is accessibly from Les Deux Alpes, the runs are largely unpisted and unpatrolled, and the single cable car leads up to the top of the La Mejie glacier. From there, skiers can pick a route down, avoiding rocks, cliffs, crevasses and avalanches.
Backside of the Valluga, St Anton
You can only do this with a guide, without which you won’t even be allowed onto the cable car with your skis. The run is at the top of one of the most challenging ski areas in Austria, and it isn't too difficult once you gather the nerve to start. Anyone attempting it will have to watch out for the precipice at the end of the first steep; make sure you make the left hand turn. So there you have it. The scariest ski runs in Europe; try them if you dare!