For some folks, the cold season is all about the snow and the winter sports. Skiing remains one of the most popular snow sports in the world, enjoyed by people of all ages, and at all levels of proficiency. And therein lies its popularity – it can be enjoyed even without becoming very good at it, and without venturing onto steep, unmapped slopes.
But for some people, ski is no fun unless they test their limits, unless they conquer all slopes, marked and unmarked routes, jump over steep cliffs, and go at faster and faster speed all the time. For them, and since you’re reading this presumably for you, finding new ski resorts and mountain routes that constantly challenge you and your skills, is probably becoming increasingly difficult.
Or perhaps you have trouble choosing, what with all the awesome ski destinations and resorts from around the world, each with their unique characteristics and challenges, with different landscapes and temperatures, and other special attractions. But fear not, brave skiers, for the following list was comprised to give you the top of tops on the most adventurous ski slopes from all over the world.
I’m going to get you acquainted with some of the most amazing and spectacular ski destinations, the best of the best that you can choose for your next adventure. There’s something for everyone in there, but beware! These truly are some of the most dangerous ski slopes out there, so make sure you choose one you think you can conquer.
Alaska is an obvious choice on a list of top ski destinations. This snowy U.S. state is heaven for all nature and outdoors lovers, boasting one of the most beautiful sceneries in the world. Alaska is a popular tourist attraction throughout the year, and some of its peaks are always covered in snow.
However, to fully take advantage of the winter sports opportunities, it’s best you visit during winter, when snow levels are regular and perfect for skiing. One of the best ski resorts in Alaska is Girdwood, a former gold mining town, now considered the best ski town in the state.
Girdwood is the ideal destination for skiers who prefer to go a bit off the beaten path, so to speak, and it started rising in popularity as a hippie winter getaway in the 1970s. The resort is ideal both for adventurous types and for beginners, with the latter being able to opt for the beginner runs at the base of the mountains. Keep in mind that if you truly want to exploit Girdwood at its best, spring is the ideal period, with longer days. But otherwise, there’s basically year-round skiing and snowboarding going on, and a lot of other outdoor activities you can enjoy.
2. Malam Jabba, Pakistan
There’s nothing quite like skiing in exotic locations, in countries that are usually renown for their warm climates and lush nature. But the Malam Jabba resort in Pakistan is nothing to be surprised about, since it is a part of the great, imposing Hindu Kush mountains, which neighbor the Himalayas, and which together boast some of the tallest peaks in the world.
Pakistan is still a developing country, so in Malam Jabba you find the only available ski commercial area where you can get lodgings and take on marked routes. The resort even has an interesting, challenged history, most recently having been destroyed by the Taliban in 2007, including residential areas and slopes. But its rebirth is just as impressive, the work of truly passionate people like former national ski champion Mateeullah Khan, who invested a lot of time and effort to bring it back to its feet again.
The slopes you get to ski on as you descend from Malam Jabba to Swat Valley are some of the funnest in the world, and they, together with the resort itself, where initially created with the help of Austrian expertise. Despite that, you may encounter children and youth with homemade skis learning how to conquer the mountain.
3. Chamonix, France
Well, it’s the Alps. Probably, by popularity, the most beloved mountains in the world from a skier’s point of view. The Alps are not just beautiful and majestic, but they offer a few of the best opportunities for skiing, especially for adrenaline lovers who like them steep and dangerous.
What’s even more awesome about Chamonix and the surrounding resorts and ski slopes, is that everything is engineered to allow you to take the thrill ride of your life. You get to use some of the best lifts giving you access to those very tall and very steep natural slopes that allow for extreme skiing and snowboarding in the area.
You need to be extremely capable and proficient in order to take on some of the more abrupt and off-road routes of the Chamonix Alps. There are 11 different ski zones that you can explore all day long, then retreat into the lively and traditional-looking village of Chamonix where there’s no cars and admire the Alps from a different perspective. You can both pamper yourself, and go all out rough in Chamonix, but one thing is certain: you’ll want to come back again and again.
4. Oukaïmden, Morocco
Morocco is another one of those countries that you wouldn’t naturally assume is a destination for adventurous skiing, but there you have it. Morocco is actually enriched by the Atlas mountains. Oukaïmden is located just 45 kilometers outside of Marrakech, so you definitely have to make time for both if you get to Morocco.
Reaching the Jebel Attar peak in Oukaïmden is truly a picturesque experience, because you start atop donkeys, until you reach the chairlift that takes you to the peak. Once there, you can choose from the 5 ranges and enjoy one of the most breathtaking views and one of the best skiing experiences in the world.
Just one word of caution, besides being careful on the slopes – it’s best that you bring your own gear, since the ones sold or rented at the base of the mountain can be lower quality, and you need to go very pro with your equipment and take all necessary precautions in order to protect yourself.
5. Whitefish, Montana
Back in the United States, in Montana, whose name already suggests its geographical character, stands the impressive resort of Whitefish, a beloved extreme ski destination. You can find great lodging at the Whitefish Mountain Resort. Established over a former railroad town, Whitefish is a great destination for the entire family, or for large groups of friends, because the surrounding ranges feature opportunities for all levels of skiing experience.
If you’re the type to prefer a rougher, more natural atmosphere, Whitefish has plenty of that. There are some luxury hotels in the area, but the resort is accessible to all budgets, and the slopes are the same for everyone. The landscape is spectacular and breathtaking, and you arrive in the city by train, which adds to the quaintness and reminds of simpler and cleaner times.
You can definitely have a lot of fun, extreme skiing on the ranges here, and enjoy a number of other fun activities in the nearby Glacier National Park, which holds its own treasures.
6. Deogyusan, South Korea
Now moving to Asia, in South Korea, to check out some of the longest and steepest slopes in the country. These are represented by the Silk Road Slope, which is the longest slope , at 6.1 kilometers, allowing you to enjoy a really long ride down, and perfect your skills and technique, all while admiring the spectacular South Korean mountains.
Next, there’s the dangerous, yet so alluring Raider’s Course, which is filled with extremely steep slopes that take a high level of control and technique to ski or snowboard through. There are six different ski slopes in Deogyusan, each with its own level of difficulty.
The Deogyusan ski resort is a Korean favorite, but it attracts tourists and extreme adventure lovers from around the world. What’s more, the resort covers some seven million square meters, and it’s within one of South Korea’s biggest and most beautiful national parks. You can visit it to discover the natural beauties as well, and go on hiking trips during the warmer seasons.
7. Mauna Kea, Big Island, Hawaii
Our planet still holds so many surprises for us, but skiing aficionados are probably aware that you can practice the sport in some very exotic destinations, and have the most amazing experiences in extraordinary landscapes and unique ski ranges. One of those surprising locations is Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Mauna Kea is basically one of the volcanoes on Big Island, and it gets snow a few times a year. So much so, that locals and tourists from all over the world come forward to have fun on some of the funnest slopes out there. But the ski slopes are not exactly landscaped, everything is rather improvised, so it’s generally a destination for skiers who can maintain great control of themselves at high speeds.
Because of the tropical sun, snow on Mauna Kea has a unique texture which also requires some getting used to. And because the slopes aren’t maintained by man’s intervention, you might run into areas with exposed lava rock, which you need to be able to avoid quickly, or have good protective gear to avoid injuries. But then again, what can be cooler than skiing down a volcano in Hawaii?
8. Zermatt, Switzerland
Do what you do, and say what you say, but a true skier will always return to the Alps. Switzerland is generally regarded as one of the best countries to go skiing in, but Zermatt is considered a jewel, both as a city, and thanks to the slopes available from it.
Switzerland is full of what you might call classic ski resorts and towns, that have been developing this characteristic for tens, or hundreds of years, and which are just as much tourist towns. Many consider Zermatt to be the ultimate Swiss ski destination, and not just because of the challenging and thrilling slopes, but also due to its positioning next to the Matterhorn peak, one of the tallest, and most impressive mountains in the world.
You get to ski in one of the most exciting environments on the planet, with some slopes presenting long vertical drops, long cruisers and powder runs all over the three ski areas. There are numerous ski lifts taking you to the various slopes, and you can easily go over to the Italian side and try their two ski zones, which are just as impressive.
Zermatt can be quite an expensive destination. It is kept together by the latest technologies, it only allows electric cars in order to protect the environment, and it’s filled with many five-star restaurants and hotels. However, you can find more accessible solutions as well. Finally, you mustn’t miss a trip over to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, a cable car ride that takes you through one of the most spectacular landscapes you’ll ever see.
9. Brezovica, Kosovo
You might not know all that much about Kosovo, this small country with a rough history riddled by wars and conquerors. But that doesn’t make it any less beautiful and intriguing, especially if you’re a seeker of winter thrills. The Brezovica resort is located in the Sara National Park, where you get access to over 2,500 hectares of snowy slopes of all shapes and sizes, for the less experienced, but for the very adventurous as well.
Brezovica is an old ski resort that was shut down during the 1990s due to various conflicts within the autonomous province of Kosovo. But it was reopened, new and improved, in 2008, and has since become increasingly popular for skiers who are always looking for the next adventure.
Another great thing about skiing in Kosovo is not only that you get to ski through basically pristine land, but also that costs are more than acceptable, and you can still enjoy a lot of great services on a tight budget. Best known secret about it? It’s home to the infamous Orlovo Gnezdo run, one of the steepest slopes in the world.
10. Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand
We end this list with another destination that’s usually popular for its tropical climate and exotic landscape. But New Zealand features some really amazing mountains, including the very impressive and challenging Mount Ruapehu. The mountain is so famous, you’ve already seen it without even knowing – the landscape was used to create the Mount Doom backdrops in the Lord of the Rings trilogy movie.
The mountain offers some really amazing descent opportunities. Add to that the thrill of sliding down an active volcano, and there’s probably no better way to test your limits and work on your extreme ski skills at a maximum adrenaline rush.
Another great advantage of the area is that the snow season for skiing is quite long, extending from June to October. There are three ski areas you can access, and if you’re on a tighter budget, you can go to one of the many club fields and ski to your heart’s content. Don’t forget to visit the nearby Tongariro National Park and admire the cluster of active volcanoes who are known to have made skiers’ lives a bit harder from time to time by spewing rock down below.
We’ve been around the world and looked at some of the most spectacular adventure skiing destinations you can visit on your next trip. Our planet is filled with opportunities that challenge and entertain, and one lifetime isn’t enough to experience them all.
What you can do is document your options as best as possible, and prioritize the destinations that are most appealing to you. You can make a goal out of skiing on mountains from every continent, or focus on a particular type of ski slopes and ranges, depending on what you like most.
I hope this short list will help inspire you to find the next big challenge for you this winter. Let me know in the comments if you plan on visiting any of these in the nearby future.
Have you ever been to any of these places? If so, what thoughts and impressions can you share?