I remember being a grommet boarder back in the 80’s and standing at the top of “Olympic” for the first time, a black diamond run at Perisher, Australia. Was I going to die? It was the steepest, largest and most formidable snow terrain I had seen. I survived, minus a single crash on the drop off at the top. A six foot launch off the lip to get the run going.
I also remember that after making that first run it was the roller-coaster call of “let’s go again, let’s go again.” That was my first “pants pooping” run on a mountain – more have followed since. I have not attempted any on this list of our Top 10 most dangerous runs in the world and my age and mortality now will probably hold me back from doing so.
Now there are people who have skied down Everest, but no boarders yet. No word of a lie a few people have done it. It took Davo Karnicar, 38, of Jezersko, Slovenia, five hours to ski from Everest’s 29,035-foot summit to its base camp, which is at 17,500 feet. He took only a few breaks and never removed his skis, according to the Nepal Ministry of Tourism.
While Everest isn’t the most accessible for most of us to ride death defying slopes I wanted to present what I thought was the Top 10 most dangerous slopes in the world that were accessible to the public. So don your diapers, grab your boards and all your savings. Fill out your will and wax that base, it’s time to countdown some hellish rides.
10) Backside of the Valluga – St Anton, Austria
This run at the backside of the Valluga in St Anton isn’t technically demanding. All you have to do is get to the top and accept your fate, which is a lot harder than it sounds. Your journey starts with a gondola ride to the top of the most challenging ski area in Austria and you can only get on the car if you’re accompanied by a qualified mountain guide. You then have to gently push through the crowds of tourists at the top of the viewing platform. And then hear gasps when you strap on your board. The first slope is apparently pretty easy to handle but, as luck would have it, it ends in a precipice. Pay attention – if you miss the left turn you’ll end up on jagged rocks 700m below!
9) The Streif – Kitzbühel, Austria
The Streif, in Kitzbühel, is the most spectacular downhill skiing race track in the world. It brings the best skiers from every corner of the world together in an almost gladiator style fight for the honour of victory on the Streif. During the winter, before and after the race, the Streif is a public run and one can tackle the racecourse or the easier Family Streif, which offers two alternative gradients.
In downhill ski racing, the Streif, is regarded as the ultimate challenge because of the diversity of its terrain. All the elements of a classic downhill course can be found on the Streif: high speed breathtaking jumps, steep slopes, flat out gliding sections, curves, compressions, spectacular bumps and even a short uphill section just before the Seidlalm jump. The Streif has it all and sounds like an extreme challenge for snowboarders looking for a rush.
This baby is all about speed – it’s gruelling – and while it’s an Olympic skiing track, it’s still available for the best of snowboarding. Just look above at how deadly this beast is. Apologies it is solely a skiing video – no boarding videos this intense on Streif that we could locate.
8) Kill the Banker – Revelstoke, British Columbia Canada
Apart from its fantastic and slightly murderous name, there’s more to fear on Kill the Banker run than shady financiers. There’s the small waterfall to jump halfway down that gives this run its fearsome reputation; oh, and there’s no hiding, as this treacherous challenge must be attempted directly below the gondola, so everyone can either see you succeed – or fail on an epic scale. But don’t stress, the waterfall isn’t the only trial you’ll have to face. The run boasts cliff edges that are steeper than you have ever seen, but don’t be put off – the run is fun and adrenaline-packed! Just watch out for all the cliffs.
7) Tortin – Verbier, Switzerland
The degree of terror on Tortin is apparently solely based on snow cover. In an excellent season it may be hard to see what the hype is about. In a less than stellar season things are much different. Access to the run is via a traverse from which you must pick your spot and take a left turn onto a wide but steep slope. In high season the moguls that develop here are nothing short of horrific. The further you go, the more frightening they become.
The secret is to head off at the start of the traverse. It is steeper, but you are more likely to stay on your feet. In good powder conditions, this is a glorious and safe run. But when it is icy, a slip can result in long and dangerous slide on your ass.
6) La Chavanette – Between France and Switzerland
“Danger” says the sign at the top, on the French side of the invisible line that separates France from Switzerland. But also, “for expert skiers only.” Its brutally exposed position means that snow can quickly turn to ice, transforming La Chavanette to a foe that can – and has – killed. But the risk of seriously hurting yourself is only high in extremely icy conditions. The biggest danger is from other peeps on the mountain tumbling into you while out of control.
5) Delirium Dive – Sunshine Village, Banff, Canada
You won’t be allowed through the back country gate entrance to Delirium unless you have an avalanche transceiver, a probe, a shovel and at least one other person with you. Expect a forty to fifty degree pitch regardless of where you choose to drop in and some heart pumping turns when you do. You may need to hike the ridge line to get to some good stuff and it’s not pretty if you suffer from vertigo with a sheer drop off on both sides.
4) La Grave – Hautes-Alpes, France
La Grave boasts a huge 30-gondola pulse lift that takes you 7,000 feet up a mountain and drops you off above: glaciers, crevasses, 1,000-foot cliffs, no fall zones, and extremely rowdy terrain. There are no groomers, avalanche control, runs, signs, ropes, ski patrol, nor Starbucks. Once you make the decision not to ride the gondola back down, you’re on your own.
3) Body Bag – Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colorado
The ski patrol at Crested Butte cannot be any clearer. The name alone should steer you away from this snowy mountain precipice. DO NOT DO IT. Body Bag is not for beginners. It’s not for humans really. If the downed trees and sloughed snow off the top don’t get you, then everything else will. Please note this photograph may be from the bottom of Rambo at Crested Butte – the photos for Body Bag are limited – perhaps no one has made it to the bottom alive yet.
2) Harakiri – Mayrhofen Ski Resort, Austria
Is it a cliff? Is it a ski jump? No, it’s the Harakiri piste in Mayrhofen snow resort, renowned for being Austria’s steepest slope adventure and a must-do for every serious snowboarder. With a vertical drop of 375m over a kilometre and a half, the Harakiri reaches an inclination of up to 78%. Fall here and it’s a long way down!
A Japanese term referring to the ritual suicide performed by a samurai, the name “Harakiri” might just foreshadow the fate of those brave but not technically qualified enough to attempt it. What makes the Harakiri special is the fact that it’s groomed – a feat only possible since recently (Harakiri opened in the 2003-2004 season). The piste is so steep that weeks before opening, layers of artificial snow must be pressed daily onto the piste. Only when the piste is about to open do the groomers smooth out the snow; but they continue to add more snow all season long to avoid a mini-avalanche.
1) Corbet’s Couloir – Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming
No ski resort in North America has a chute so chilling as Corbet’s Couloir in Wyoming – a crucible where snow whores go to prove their mettle (or more often, to run back to a bar and the safety of schnapps). The run is named after Barry Corbet, a mountaineer who in 1960 spotted a narrow crease of snow shaped like an upside-down funnel, high up on the mountain now known as Jackson Hole. Said he: “Someday someone will ski that.”
I have perused too many lists and too many websites online to compile this list and nearly every one of them lists Corbet’s Couloir as the most dangerous of them all. Who’s up? Anyone done it? Thoughts?
Hit us up! What did we miss? Have you boarded any of them? What are your thoughts?