16 April 2012. 9 comments

Category: France, Inspiration, Ski Archive

Where is the world’s longest ski run?

Ski FranceAs any keen skier will know, there are few things better in life than a long ski run. Giving you the chance to build up speed without worrying when you are going to hit the bottom sends many snow fanatics off in to a daydream. This got me pondering as to where in the world is the longest ski run?

This is a long debated and greatly considered question. My mind instantly leapt to the big Alpine resorts I have skied when wondering about this… and then I reconsidered thinking of the huge resorts of North America. Hmmm… I couldn’t think of an obvious answer off the top of my head.


After further investigation, my conundrum is not that surprising, as it appears there are a few different answers, depending on your definition of ‘longest’.

Firstly, I will apply this to downhill skiing only; to consider cross-country ski trails would be an infinite list of back-country trails! In terms of downhill, many will consider it to be the furthest distance travelled, but is this only on pisted mountain, or taking off-piste in to consideration? 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

The World's Longest Pisted Ski RunIn terms of pisted slope, The Sarenne in Alpe d’Huez is the longest in the world. The exact length does vary depending on whether you go by the length as stated on the piste map of 19km or the Alpe d’Huez homepage which states 16km. Either way, it’s punishing 2,000m vertical drop of black status slope requires staggering endurance as it takes about an hour and a half to complete.

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

Alpe d'Huez


Off Piste

Chamonix, France

Above ChamonixThe 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.

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.

The World's longest off-piste ski runOnce on your way, the mountainside isn’t too scary; intermediates with some off-piste experience should manage it as it’s not too steep. The snow is obviously un-groomed though, so patchy snow should be expected. There is also some hiking to get up out of the valley to ski the last section down to Chamonix. In places the route will take you through narrow crevasses which make fantastic pictures.

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

Greatest Vertical Drop

Chamonix, France

Once again Chamonix in France wins! Vertical drop is the difference between the highest altitude reached by lifts and that at the bottom. That is, assuming you’re looking at pisted slopes. In which case, 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

So, 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.

Great Skiing in Revelstoke

  • Jackson Hole ski resort in Wyoming has the longest downhill ski run in North America; the vertical drop is 1,262m down Rendezvous Peak.
  • The resort of Killington in Vermont is the largest ski resort in eastern North America and home to the ‘Juggernaut’ run; a tiring 16km long!
  • Revelstoke resort in British Columbia has the most continuous lift served vertical drop in North America at 1,713m.

Crystal Ski offer ski holidays to all of these destinations.

This post is by Tess Bowles from the Crystal Ski team.


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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 😉



  • 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

  • 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


  • 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 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, 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.”