Continuing with our list of amazing ski and snowboard related goodness we find ourselves at number 9: Skiing the hardest runs in the World. It has taken a bit of time but we have narrowed it down to the top 4 ski runs we want to complete before we kick the bucket.
The Hahnenkamm – Kitzbuhel; Austria.
Hahnenkamm means Rooster's Comb in German, don't know why that's important but thought we'd tell you anyway. The Hahnenkamm holds possibly the most famous slope on the World Cup Alpine Circuit; Streif. Regarded as the most demanding course due its length and difficult terrain Streif (meaning streak or stripe, see you're learning) has a prize for the World Cup downhill of 550,000Euros! The things that make it so difficult is that fact that for most of the season the whole slope is in the shade, meaning it's icy and hard as granite! As well as the tough as diamonds snow, Streif also has reverse chamber corners (so you're essentially leaning the wrong way), jumps with flat landings and difficult visibility coupled with the 40.4° gradient. The 3.312km course results in a 860m drop from start to finish and allows skiers to reach speeds of up to 140km/h, and for those reasons, it's on our bucket list!
The Harakiri – Mayrhofen; Austria.
Moving over the valley to Mayrhofen is the second of our Austrian slopes on our bucket list, the Harakiri. Named after the slang word for the Japanese Samurai act of ritual suicide (Seppuku) the 78% gradient (about 36°) of the Harakiri is the steepest groomed ski run in Austria and takes a special system of anchoring the piste groomers to the mountain with steel chains in order to stop them plummeting down the hill. The Harakiri is only 150m in length but don't let that fool you into thinking its easy, only the best skiers attempt this run. Be warned!
Corbet's Couloir – Jacksons Hole,Wyoming; USA.
Classed as an 'expert' run Corbet's is named after Barry Corbet, the man who first looked up at the funnel shaped mountain ridge and remarked “someone will ski that one day”. Lonnie Ball was the first to conquer the Couloir, that has been described as “America's Scariest Ski Slope” by USA today, in 1967 and the slope has been a feature of Jacksons Hole ski runs ever since. The run starts with a seemingly impossible 30ft drop from a cornice followed by a 50° slope littered with rocks and other obstacles, and that's if you don't loose a ski and have to hike back up!
Delirium Dive – Sunshine Village, Banff; Canada.
Restricted to advanced skiers only, and with the entrance to the run through a gate that only allows access to skiers with a shovel, probe and avalanche transceiver, are some of the reasons why Delirium Dive is on the SnowSkool Bucket List. From the top of the Great Divide chair lift the hike to the in-bounds avalanche area known as the Delirium Dive is a walk along the edge of a 5 or 6 meter high cliff band that acts as the entrance to the run itself. Before Sunshine Village let you ski the Dive they ask you to become familiar with double-black-diamond runs so that they know you are capable enough for the test that lies ahead. The start to your ski down has two choices; you climb down the specially constructed steel stairs to the slope below, or, you jump off the cliff band and take the 50° by storm!
Next week – Number 8 – The Antarctic Ice Marathon!