If you've ever considered tackling one of the world's scariest ski runs, but haven't quite plucked up the courage to do it yet, get a feel for what to expect by watching our carefully chosen videos, all recorded by skiers on their mountain descents.
The degree of terror that each run inspires is greatly dependant on snow conditions. Even the steepest and scariest ski run doesn't seem so bad when coated with a thick layer of powder.
Top five scariest ski runs:
The majority of these runs aren't too scary once you get started, it's often the initial drop that puts people off. How many can you tick off your to-do list?
1. Valley Blanche, Chamonix
Chamonix's 20-kilometre (12-mile) Valley Blanche is a high off-piste run, the longest in Europe, and a rite of passage for ballsy skiers on their way to becoming experts.
The VB has a 2800-metre vertical and some very real dangers - not least from crevasses, seracs, cliffs and avalanches; only skiers able to parallel turn on a red run should attempt it. Its worth getting a handful of friends together and hiring a guide for the day; a guide will not only ensure safety but will show you some of the mountain's hidden gems.
There are several variants of the run: the Normal Valley, the Petit Envers du Plan and the Grand Envers du Plan; the latter two are more visually interesting, but are more heavily crevassed and hold a higher risk of avalanches. The VB is best skiied in Feburary/March time (don't leave it too late in the day for safety reasons).
The video follows a group of skiers as they take the cable car up to 3812 metres before walking along the narrow ridge of the Aiguille du Midi and skiing all the way down the mountain.
Skiing the Valley Blanche, Chamonix
2. Corbet's Couloir, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, US
Named after Jackson Hole ski instructor, Barry Corbet, Corbet's Couloir is widely considered "American's scariest ski run". The real fear factor is not in the run itself, which is often powder packed, but on entering the run which is truly t-t-t-t-t-terrifying.
The run is reached from the Rendezvous Mountain cable car. The entrance to Couloir is about three metres wide with rock faces on both sides. Skiers must either drop off a cornice and freefall nine metres onto a 50-degree slope below or ski/step down the first part and drop the rest of the way then make a sharp turn right to steer clear of the rock face.
Skiing Corbet's Couloir, Jackson Hole
3. The Swiss Wall, Avoriaz
La Chavanette in Avoriaz is best known as "The Swiss Wall" - even the name conjures a terrifying picture and that alone should warrant a place on the "World's scariest ski runs" list. Those who've plucked up the courage to ski it will know it as a run with one of the steepest descents in the world - so steep in fact that you cannot see what lies ahead.
The lifts on the left side of Avoriaz head up to the Chavanette sector and beyond the Swiss border is the infamous Swiss Wall. Early risers will often find powder conditions, making it not nearly as terrifying, but leave it too late in the day and the Wall turns into a seriously steep icy mogul field (as in the video).
Before entering the Wall, you pass the "For Experts Only" sign. After you've completed the first six turns and rounded an overhang, the Wall reveals itself as a steep 200-metre slope.
Skiing The Wall, Avoriaz
4. Off The Back Of Valluga, St Anton, Austria
St. Anton's gut-wrenching Valluga summit descent into the Paziel-Tal to Zuers is one of the most famous off-piste runs in Austria. Only those accompanied by a qualified guide are allowed to take their skis or snowboard on the gondola up to the summit. There are two variations from the summit: the Valluga North Face and the Valluga Bridge Couloir. Expect tight turns, clifftops, obstacles, and elementary mountaineering.
Skiing off the back of Valluga, St Anton
5. Delirium Dive, Sunshine Village, Canada
The Dive in Sunshine Village is a steep slope on Goat's Eye Mountain set aside for hardcore skiers. Only those wearing an avalanche transceiver and carrying a shovel and probe are allowed on the lift (although some say this is more to do with deterring intermediates than actual risk of avalanche). From the top, visibility is often poor and it's hard to see what lies ahead, but once you actually take the plunge off the lip, you'll find yourself in a not-too-scary bowl with a choice of exits.
Skiing the Delirium Dive, Sunshine Village
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