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The Most Iconic Ski Slopes in Europe

Published: Jan 16, 2024
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1 The Swiss Wall in Avoriaz, Les Portes du Soleil (France)
2 Combe de Caron - Val Thorens (France)
3 Le Tunnel, Alpe d'Huez (France)
4 La Sarenne, Alpe d'Huez (France)
5 Àliga, Grandvalira (Andorra)
6 Lauberhorn, Wengen (Switzerland)
7 Streif Hahnenkamm, Kitzbühel (Austria)
8 Kandahar Banchetta, Sestriere (Italy)
9 Direttissima Nr. 9, Mürren-Schilthorn (Switzerland)
10 Grand Couloir, Courchevel (France)

Adrenaline junkies, this article is for you advanced skiers and black slopes enthusiasts. Embark on a journey across the stunning alpine landscapes of Europe, where seasoned skiers often seek the thrill of conquering legendary slopes.

 

We have selected the most challenging slopes in Europe that have become synonymous with alpine prowess and which you simply have to try.

 

While not all of these slopes are extremely steep, they all combine technically demanding elements with a level of difficulty that has made them legendary. If you can conquer any of these slopes, stunning views and an adrenaline rush will be your reward and you'll feel rightly proud of your accomplishment.

 

The Swiss Wall in Avoriaz, Les Portes du Soleil (France)

 

Let's start our list in one of the skiing hotspots, France. Or was it Switzerland? No one really seems to know which country is home to this slope, but right on the border between France and Switzerland, in the ski resort of Avoriaz in Portes du Soleil, we find Le Pas de Chavanette, a ski slope better known as the Swiss Wall. 

 

 

The Swiss Wall is not a black slope but an orange one, offering a length of about 1 km and a vertical drop of 330 metres with an inclination of 32º. What is an orange ski slope, you ask? Well, it pretty much means it’s just too difficult to be put into one of the regular difficulty categories (green, blue, red, or black). The slope has moguls throughout and should only be taken by very experienced skiers and riders wearing protective gear such as a helmet and a back protector

 

See ski deals in Avoriaz

 

 

Combe de Caron - Val Thorens (France)

 

Nestled in the renowned Three Valleys ski area, Combe de Caron offers an exhilarating descent with stunning panoramic views. Skiers can expect a mix of challenging terrain, including steep pitches and thrilling moguls, making it a favourite among those seeking a diverse alpine experience.

 

 

Being part of the Three Valleys (Les Trois Vallées), which is the largest interconnected ski area in the world, skiers can explore a vast network of slopes and lifts connecting Val Thorens with other resorts like Méribel and Courchevel. Our recommendation is to go big or go home - opt for the Three Valleys Ski Pass and have the time of your life! 

 

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Le Tunnel, Alpe d'Huez (France)

 

While not the most renowned run in Alpe d'Huez, Le Tunnel boasts a stellar reputation in the Alps. If you're seeking something out of the ordinary, this is the slope for you. Located at an altitude of 3300 meters, the run begins with a long tunnel that feels like a cave carved into the mountain, which you must navigate before reaching the heart of the trail.

 

 

To reach the Tunnel, you will have to go all the way up to Pic Blanc and ski down the first part of another famous tough slope, La Sarenne. Once you come out on the other side you will be face to face with the vertical drop to the slope, and at this point, there is really just one way down, and it’s right in front of you.

 

The scenery is breathtaking and the degree of difficulty varies depending on the weather conditions. In powdery snow and in the warmth of the sun on the way down, The Tunnel is quite enjoyable. However, when it is cold and the tunnel exit is icy, it takes on a more sinister character with steep slopes, icy conditions, and a multitude of moguls. This trail is an absolute must-do for adrenaline junkies seeking a thrilling challenge!

 

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La Sarenne, Alpe d'Huez (France)

 

Yup, Alpe d'Huez again. Remember how we said the Tunnel was probably not the most difficult slope in this French ski resort? Well, la Sarenne probably is. In fact, it's the heart and soul of Alpe d'Huez. With its 16 km of continuous descent and 2,000 m of vertical drop, it's considered the longest ski slope in the world. 

 

 

It is a ten-kilometre black run with steep slopes, while the next six kilometres are much gentler. It takes more than an hour to reach the end, and there are no climbs at all on the entire route. It's certainly the resort's biggest attraction, attracting skiers and snowboarders from all over the world for more than 30 years;

 

See ski deals in Alpe d'Huez

 

Àliga, Grandvalira (Andorra)

 

In the largest ski area in the Pyrenees, Grandvalira, we find a slope that has just recently attracted worldwide recognition as an iconic slope, after hosting the Ladies' Alpine Skiing World Cup in February 2016. The Àliga slope was created in 2000 as an extension to the El Tarter ski area.  

 


Technically speaking, Àliga starts off easy but shortly after becomes much more difficult, and you have to let your skis run a lot more until the next sharp right-hand bend. The slope is very varied, with several jumps in the course, exciting turns and changes in gradient, commercially it is a long and very attractive slope.

 

With its technical descents and rapid changes in elevation, Aliga SG is a favourite among expert skiers looking to push their limits. The challenging nature of the slope, combined with the stunning Pyrenees scenery, creates an unforgettable skiing adventure in the heart of the Grandvalira ski area.

 

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Lauberhorn, Wengen (Switzerland)

 

The Lauberhorn is a famous ski slope located in Wengen, Switzerland, and is renowned for hosting one of the most challenging downhill races in the Alpine Skiing World Cup circuit, the Lauberhorn Downhill. 

 


Its scenic beauty and technical challenges make it a highlight in the world of alpine skiing. The annual Downhill race attracts top athletes, featuring a mix of high-speed sections and technically demanding turns against the backdrop of the Swiss Alps. The course is one of the longest in the world, with a length of approximately 4.5 kilometres.


One of the unique aspects of skiing the Lauberhorn is the breathtaking scenery. The course offers stunning views of the surrounding Swiss Alps, including the Jungfrau region peaks. The combination of the challenging course and picturesque surroundings makes it a favourite among both skiers and spectators.

 

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Streif Hahnenkamm, Kitzbühel (Austria)

 

The Streif Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel, Austria, is another iconic slope that has become synonymous with alpine skiing excellence. Renowned as one of the most challenging downhill courses in the world, the Streif has been the stage for the prestigious Hahnenkamm Race for decades.

 


What Wimbledon is to tennis, Monte Carlo is to Formula 1 and Ironman Hawaii is to triathlon, the Streif is to skiing, and every year thousands of spectators witness legends being born and tragedies being written.

 

With a vertical drop that will make your heart race, the Streif is a true test of skill and nerve. Skiers brave steep descents, narrow passages, and jumps that challenge even the most experienced athletes. The electric atmosphere during the annual Hahnenkamm Race adds to the allure of this legendary slope. 

 

Discover skiing in Kitzbühel

 

Kandahar Banchetta, Sestriere (Italy)

 

The Kandahar Banchetta in Sestriere, Italy, is a captivating slope that combines technical difficulty with the charm of the Italian Alps. As a regular host of World Cup competitions, this slope offers skiers a chance to experience the thrill of racing down a course frequented by elite athletes.

 

 

The Kandahar slope is about 3.5 kilometres long and has an altitude difference of almost 1,000 metres, with a maximum gradient of 63%The Kandahar Banchetta challenges skiers with its varied terrain, including steep sections and demanding turns. The well-groomed slopes and stunning Italian scenery contribute to the overall allure of this iconic ski destination.

 

Discover Skiing in Sestriere

 

Direttissima Nr. 9, Mürren-Schilthorn (Switzerland)

 

Direttissima Nr. 9 in Mürren-Schilthorn, Switzerland, offers a unique blend of excitement and panoramic views. Known for its steep descents and challenging moguls, this Swiss gem attracts skiers seeking an adrenaline-pumping adventure.

With a gradient of 88%, it is the steepest slope in the Jungfrau region. The descent starts at the Birg station and leads directly down the fall line into the Engetal valley.

 

 

Surrounded by the breathtaking Swiss Alps, Direttissima Nr. 9 provides an exhilarating experience for both advanced skiers and thrill-seekers. The combination of technical challenges and stunning landscapes makes it a standout slope in the Swiss skiing scene.

 

Discover the impressive Jungfrau Ski Area

 

Grand Couloir, Courchevel (France)

 

The Grand Couloir in Courchevel is renowned as one of the most challenging slope s due to its steepness of 35º and the fact of not being groomed. To make the run more manageable, it is recommended to hit it early after fresh snowfall. Despite being only 630 m long, it boasts a vertical drop of 340 m, making for an intense experience. The path to get there is also noteworthy, as skiers and snowboarders must navigate a narrow and undulating passage marked by previous riders with steep drops on either side.

 

 

Once you get past the first section you reach the steepest part, 85%, the steepest maximum gradient for a slope in Europe, rivalling that of Harakiri (Mayrhofen), which is 78%. Grand Couloir, however, apart from being steep, has scary rock walls on both sides. From start to finish, skiing the Grand Couloir is a full-fledged adventure that any thrill-seeker should experience and stands as a symbol of extreme skiing in the French Alps, attracting adventurers from around the world to conquer its challenging slopes.

 

See ski deals in Courchevel

 

 

We hope to have given you plenty of ideas for your next ski holiday and inspired you to take on new challenges, as these slopes offer not only thrilling skiing experiences but also breathtaking scenery. Whether you're a seasoned professional or an adventurous enthusiast, we're sure you'll have an unforgettable journey through some of the most stunning mountain landscapes on the continent.

Plan your next skiing adventure to these iconic slopes and experience the thrill of conquering some of the most challenging descents in Europe.



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