Getting out on the slopes in summer is an extra special treat. It’s nice to know that the ski season for Europe isn’t entirely over the moment you reach (end of) April. In some places not only can you ski through the summer but you can also visit excellent ski and snowboard contests. Enter, then, Kumi Yama.
We all aspire to ski down a mountain, leaping over rocks and creating many a flurry of snow in our wake, preferably in slow motion so everyone can admire our prowess. Never mind that you’re only on the nursery slopes and aren’t allowed on a drag lift yet. One day you will get there, and when you do you will be pleased to know that there are some terrifying runs out there just waiting for you. Here is Europe Mountain’s choice of the top 6 hardest runs in the French Alps.
Face de Bellevarde, Val d’Isere
The Face de Bellevard, or ‘le Face’ as it is chummily called by those whose thighs it has destroyed, is deceptive. It is fairly steep but not sheer, and it is for the overwhelming majority wide and open. But it is long. It runs for 2905m, with a vertical drop of 972m, and was famously used in the 1992 Olympics for the men’s downhill race. It can also get quite technical, especially once the snow has been swished around a bit: expect moguls, ice sheets and rocks poking through the piste to sneak up on you. There’s no real way to get out of this one once you’ve begun, too, so be aware of that when you take the gondola up to the top of the Rocher de Bellevard. On the other hand, if you’re prepared to take your time, it’s a black run that even intermediates can have a go at. For an inspirational look at how to do it, check out.