Extreme Travel

5 of the most dangerous ski runs in the world

 (iStock)

Adventurous people often find different ways to push their limits. Skiers are likely to head for dangerous and steep slopes for an intense rush of adrenaline. But problems may arise when you disregard potential risks and don’t realistically assess your skills before heading down a run.

Some runs have about 80 percent decline, so be aware that falling often means there will be no way of stopping until you actually reach the bottom of the mountain. Some runs are often closed altogether because avalanches are common.

The ski runs here were chosen based on the pitch of the slope, vertical drops, grooming, and other obstacles. Deaths and injuries are not taken into account because statistics are often incomplete or inaccurate — many incidents remain unreported as resorts are not monitored by the government.

If you thought hardcore skiing meant jumping off a helicopter down a hill, you may want to reconsider. These runs are just as thrilling-- and dangerous. 

  • 1. Corbet’s Couloir, Wyoming

    Corbet’s Couloir, Wyoming

    Shutterstock

    The 10,450-foot-high, double-diamond ski run has been described as “America’s scariest ski slope.” It’s on the bucket lists of many expert skiers but just looking at it is intimidating. There are two spots where you can enter and both spots will have you free-falling immediately. The first option is a 10- to 15-foot drop-- but no matter what, you’ll be close to a lot of rocks if you don’t make a sharp turn upon landing. The second option is generally clear of rocks but the drop is usually at least 20 feet, depending on snowfall. The pitch is 50 degrees so you'll be going pretty fast once you hit powder.

  • 2. Grand Couloir, France

    Grand Couloir, France

    YouTube

    The scary and ungroomed chute is located beside the telepherique, and was once believed to be the steepest black-diamond run on any piste map in the entire world. The route to the cable-car station is said to be the most difficult part because it’s very narrow and icy. The entry to Grand Couloir is around 35 degrees, but then flattens out to 30 degrees, according to BMC Summit Magazine. There are big drops on either side into more testing couloirs.

  • 3. Harakiri, Austria

    Harakiri, Austria

    Shutterstock

    The average incline is 78 percent, making this slope the steepest in all of Austria-- which is already famous for its challenging ski runs and the world’s steepest groomed slope. Falling down practically means no stopping until you get to the bottom of the slope. The name Harakiri actually means the Japanese ritual of suicide by samurai. The icy conditions make the short run very challenging.

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  • 4. Olympiabakken, Kvitfjell, Norway

    Olympiabakken, Kvitfjell, Norway

    Flickr/Ivar Abrahamsen/CC BY 4.0

    The longest slope in Norway — at nearly two miles long — is found at Kvitfjell. It stretches over 2,600 feet in elevation and is extremely steep in many sections. Drops are as high as 64 percent. No surprise as Olympiabakken is also a Winter Olympic run. The resort is best-known for hosting the downhill and Super G at the 1994 Winter Olympics. Austrian skier Matthias Lanzinger had his lower left leg amputated after a crash on this course in 2008.

  • 5. Christmas Chute, Alaska

    Christmas Chute, Alaska

    YouTube

    Christmas Chute, located in the biggest ski resort in Alaska, is a 1,000-foot-long run with a 50-degree pitch — for experts only. Even they should not underestimate this double-diamond slope. To get to it, you have to take Chair 6 to the highest lift at 2,800 feet. Check out this video to get an idea of how scary it is to drop into Christmas Chute in Mount Alyeska. This is a really narrow, icy, and intimidating slope with rock walls on both sides.

    Check out more of the world's most dangerous ski slopes.