Snow Spots: Skiing for downhill daredevils

This comes to us from David Allsop of the Daily Mail and

David gives us these top-five high-adrenaline descents for the winter months;

The Vallee Blanche, Chamonix, FranceThis legendary glacier descent in the shadow of Mont Blanc is responsible for more hyperbole than anywhere else in the history of the sport — ‘totally awesome’ is the phrase most frequently used.

As well as the sort of other-world scenery which makes your jaw clunk on to your chest, it is also the longest and deepest off-piste run reachable by ski lift in the world.

Most of it is on one of the Alps’ biggest glaciers, the Mer de Glace, which — as the name suggests — is a creeping sea of snow-covered ice up to 1,000ft deep, which trundles along at a sedate 1cm per hour.

The run is between 12 and 15 miles long depending on snow conditions, and anybody who can manage a parallel turn can ski it with confidence….

The Inferno, Murren, Switzerland

The oldest amateur ski race in the world takes place every January, when more than 1,700 skiers set off individually at 12-second intervals from the top of the Schilthornmountain to the floor of the Lauterbrunnen Valley (snow conditions permitting).

The Inferno course is up to ten miles long, but that’s in a good year. More often it finishes, after about six miles of thigh-burning exertion, in the tiny hamlet of Winteregg. But it is possible to ski most of the Inferno course at any time at your own pace, and every keen skier should try it….

The Sella Ronda, Italian Dolomites

A 25-mile circuit around the spectacular Sella massif in the Italian Dolomites, the Sella Ronda is one of the great ski tours for skiers of all standards.

It involves crossing four mountain passes, and can be done clockwise or anti-clockwise following colour-coded route signs, starting and finishing in any one of five resorts. The best known of these are Arabba, Corvara, and Selva (the last is one of the best places to stay)….

The Hahnenkamm, Kitzbuhel, Austria

Skiing the most terrifying downhill course on the World Cup ski circuit sounds like a daunting proposition.

And it would be if the course was fully race-prepared with a sheet-ice surface and jumps which can carry racers nearly 80m at more than 80mph.

Fortunately for most visitors to the lovely medieval Tyrolean town of Kitzbuhel, the Hahnenkamm is relatively manageable after the race is held in mid-January. Then — freshly groomed and covered in soft, forgiving snow — it is open to anyone who fancies their chances following the greatest ski racers in history (albeit at a fraction of their speed)…

Mad River Glen, Vermont, USA

This cult New England ski mountain writes its own rules. First, it’s one of the few ski areas left which bans snowboarders (though it offers them free ski hire if they turn up ignorant of the rules).

Second, it venerates its vintage lift system so much that it still has the original 1940s diesel-belching one-seater chair all the way up its 2,037 vertical feet.

Third, it is owned and jealously guarded by a co-operative of local skiers.

But most relevantly, it has more expert terrain — suitable for advanced skiers — than most resorts on the continent and, apart, from a few beginners’ slopes, it refuses to groom a single inch of it. This is the purist’s idea of the ultimate ski resort.

It’s probably a good idea to avoid a run called Paradise, unless you’re particularly gifted at staying alive.

Read the full text here – Skiing for downhill daredevils