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7 March 2016. 9 comments

Category: France, Inspiration, Ski Archive

Where is the world’s longest ski run?

As any keen skier will know, there are few things better in life than a long ski run. The chance to build up speed without worrying when you are going to hit the bottom sends many snow fanatics off into a daydream. This got us wondering – where in the world is the longest ski run?

This is a long debated and greatly considered question. Our minds instantly leaped to the big Alpine resorts… and then we reconsidered: North America has some huge resorts. There is no obvious answer.

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Longest…?

After further investigation, the conundrum is not that surprising. There are a few different answers, depending on your definition of ‘longest’.

Firstly, let’s consider downhill skiing only; to consider cross-country ski trails would no doubt provide us an infinite list of back-country trails. In terms of downhill, many will consider it to be the furthest distance traveled, but is this only on pisted mountain, or are we taking off-piste into consideration too? Others may count it as the greatest vertical drop (which could also be calculated for both on- and off-piste).

On Piste

Alpe d’Huez, France

In terms of pisted slope, The Sarenne in Alpe d’Huez is the longest in the world. The exact length varies depending on whether you go by the length as stated on the piste map of 19km or the Alpe d’Huez website, which states 16km. Either way, the punishing 2000m vertical drop of black status slope requires staggering endurance, taking about an hour and a half to complete.

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The Sarenne isn’t without its rewards though; at the 3,330m peak of Pic Blanc the views look down over miles and miles of jaw-dropping vistas. The cliff-top start and welcoming, steep mogul field of The Sarenne hint at what is in store for those who dare!

Alpe d'Huez Piste map

 

Off Piste

Chamonix, France

The Vallée Blanche; from the summit of the Aiguille du Midi down to Chamonix is an off-piste route of 22km. As this is not an official, marked or tended route, a guide should be used to ski this route.

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From the top of the Aiguille du Midi (at 3,842m) you can see an incredible three countries: France, Italy and Switzerland. The mind-boggling length of this route takes you along a series of glaciers beneath the looming Mont Blanc.

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Once on your way, the mountainside isn’t too intimidating; intermediates with some off-piste experience should manage as it’s not too steep. The snow is obviously un-groomed though, so some patchiness should be expected. There is also some hiking to get up out of the valley to ski the last section down to Chamonix.

The backdrop of peaks at over 4,000m and seemingly never-ending snow fields is something to behold. This seriously photogenic route runs down to Chamonix, one of the world’s most famous ski resorts since it hosted the first ever Winter Olympic Games in 1924.

Greatest Vertical Drop

Chamonix, France

Once again, Chamonix, France is the winner! Vertical drop is the difference between the highest altitude reached by lifts and that at the bottom. Assuming you’re looking at pisted slopes, Chamonix comes out on top with a whopping 2,738 m vertical drop. The table below should help put that in to context.

Country Resort/Ski Area Vertical Drop
France Chamonix 2,738m
Switzerland & Italy Matterhorn 2,279m
Switzerland Lauterbrunn 2,171m
France Alpe d’Huez 2,193m
Switzerland Davos 2,034m

North America

Interestingly, regardless of your definition of ‘longest’ ski run, the answer will be on French soil. While Europe manages to hold the title(s) for longest ski run, many of the North American resorts manage some impressive claims to fame themselves.

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Crystal Ski Holidays offer all of these destinations – why not check out the website and grab yourself a bargain?

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  • http://none David

    Ehm that’s not really correct my friends.

    Alpe d’huez is only the longest one in France.
    Go to “my lovely” Switzerland – go to Zermatt.

    You’ll find the slope from Matterhorn glacier paradise to Zermatt with a length of 25km. It starts from 3883 masl and goes down to almost 1600 masl. It is even all on groomed slope. It made my legs burning 😉

    see
    http://www.matterhornparadise.ch/en/page.cfm/bahnen_pisten/pistenplan?

    Dave

  • http://www.facebook.com/smarshall1 Sam Marshall

    My favourite ski run has to be in Cervinia (Italy). The run is ‘Blue 5’ and begins at the central hub of Cervinia – Plan Maison and leads back down to the town.

    This long, wide, winding run has beautiful views of the Matterhorn and surrounding peaks and offers great piste variation – flat/steep/winding/straight. This is by no means a difficult run however after a long day of skiing, cruising down this run back to the town is always the highlight of my day. Incredible!

  • Dean

    I’ve been lucky enough to ski quite a few long runs over the years; including Alpe d’Huez, Vallee Blanche, les Deux Alpes. But my favourite run of all time was down Spankys Ladder in Whistler. We didn’t need a guide but it felt so adventurous as you ski past an “experts only” sign over a ridge leaving all the lifts and piste skiers behind. It’s probably not a very long run but it felt like we were in the wilderness

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dean.Evans22 Dean Evans

    My favourite ski run has to be the Olympic black run that goes down into San Sicario in the Via Lattea. The area isn’t as well known as nearby Sauze or Sestreire but the Olympic run takes in some stunning scenery and is the perfect length. Long but not too long that you have to stop! It’s also not a ‘hard’ black so can be skied by intermediates as well as those more confident skiers or boarders. A fab run, plenty of twists and turns and amazing views.

  • mariann

    Sarenne

  • mariann

    My favourite run is Esgargot in Meribel. Not a hard run, however it is where I learnt to ski and caught the bug. I ate a lot of snail poo on my first attempt down it, that’s for certain!

  • Stephen S

    Favourite run? I’ve got a few. I’ll break with convention first: I love the Main Basin at Glencoe Mountain Scotland, going onto the challenging Wall run. The scenery is just spectacular too. Maybe not as glamorous as others around the world but it’s with easy driving distance of my home! My real favourite though has to be skiing from Italy into Switzerland, from Cervina into Zermatt, via the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (as mentioned above by others) – skiing between 2 different countries just has to be the coolest skiing ever!

  • Ski-buzz

    Thanks to everyone who’s left a comment. @disqus_kojKIvLlgw:disqus
    – we’ve picked your comment as the winner of the final copy of WTSS 13. Please drop us an email at contact@ski-buzz.co.uk with your full name and address.

    @facebook-61106512:disqus Spanky’s ladder is a great run, but then Whistler is blessed with some brilliant terrain. Did you visit Dusty’s bar Creekside?

    @facebook-679665240:disqus – we asked recently on our Facebook page about favourite resorts/runs and Cervinia came up near the top. Thanks again for leaving a comment. Hope to see you back on Ski-buzz / Facebook sometime soon.

    And don’t forget, we give away an Amazon voucher for each blog post skiers and snowboarders like you leave us. Just visit the ‘Be a guest blogger’ page to find out more.

  • Nic Oatridge

    According to http://www.swisswintersports.co.uk, there is a 17km run off Klein Matterhorn down into Zermatt, something like a 2200m drop. At Davos it says that the “14k, 2000m drop off Weissfluhjoch to Küblis is one of the longest runs in the Alps, but the unpisted trails down to Fideris and Jenaz are even longer.”