The only way is down
Know the feeling when there’s a battalion of butterflies in your stomach as you stand at the top of a slope looking down and wondering whether you’ll make it down in one piece? Heart in mouth you push off and take your life into your own hands. That’s when it kicks in – the adrenaline rush. Your heart starts thumping and you’re virtually holding your breath as you focus. Time appears to stand still as you enter ‘the zone’ and tackle the challenge ahead. And then, before you know it – it’s all over. Sheer relief floods through your body as you enter back into the 'real world'. You feel elated, your body visibly relaxes and you might even pump your fist with a cry of 'woo hoo' or similar. What was it all about? More than just giving yourself a near coronary – it’s an adrenaline fix and we have shortlisted our favourites for you if you can hold your nerve.
Thrills on rails
01. Courchevel Luge
Thrills and possibly spills from start to finish on Courchevel's very own 2 km-long sledge run which winds its way through the forest down to 1550. Our tip is to go at night when it’s floodlit.
Fear factor: 2/5
02. Bobsleigh at La Plagne
The Olympic bobsleigh run in La Plagne, France, is 1,507.5m long, contains 19 turns and boasts a total drop of 124.5m. There are three experiences available, the tamest being the ‘Bob Raft’, which still reaches speeds of 80km/h. May the G-Force be with you.
Fear Factor: 4/5
03. Cresta Run, St Moritz
Death toll: 4, broken bones: too many to count, loss of limbs: 1. This is for the hardcore and it’s legendary status needs little explanation. An intoxicating combination of danger, speed, eccentricity and then serious partying at the club after puts it off the scale.
Fear Factor: 5/5 and then some…
01. Val Heliski, Val d’Isère
If you’ve never tried heliskiing before, we suggest going for a day to get a taste of what it’s all about. And whilst heliskiing in Europe isn’t quite on a par with North America, the buzz of skiing in virgin powder is the same. A helicopter will whisk you off from Val d’Isère to the Italian Alps where your powder paradise awaits.
Adrenaline factor: 3/5 – the trip in helicopter alone is worth it.
02. Bella Coola Heliski, British Columbia
Just one hour’s flight from Vancouver, Bella Coola takes small groups from three different bases with the opportunity to float through the powder fields in the shadow of Mount Waddington, B.C’s highest peak.
Adrenaline factor: 4/5
03. Last Frontier Helisking, British Columbia
Last Frontier Helisking operate in the biggest single heliski area in the world and arguably the best – it’s 27 times the size of the Trois Vallées. If you love skiing, you must go heliskiing at least once.
Adrenaline factor: 5/5
3-2-1 lift off
01. Yoghurt pots, Courchevel (one for the kids)
Watch the delight on your little ones’ faces as they experience the thrills of going on a ski lift for the first time – these 'gondolas', affectionately known as 'yoghurt pots', are situated in the Children’s Village in Courchevel.
Stomach churn factor: 2/5
02. Leissieres, Val d’Isère
Often referred to as the up and over chairlift, hold you to your stomach as you swoop over the top from the Solaise area and down into the Le Fornet ski area.
Stomach churn factor: 4/5
03. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Zermatt
At 3,883m, it is the highest cable car station in Europe, where the air is thin and leaves you breathless. If you can stomach it, the view from the top is breathtaking.
Stomach churn factor: 5/5
Terror at the top
01. The Grand Couloir, Courchevel
The most difficult part is the path from the cable-car station at La Saulire. Once you’ve taken the plunge, the slope quickly widens and the bottom half can be fantastic. Be aware: you may well have an audience as skiers on the main piste stop to see it you make it in one piece!
Fear factor: 4/5
02. The Meribel Couloir, Meribel
Now equipped with cameras to record your every turn and tumble, you register at the top and then launch into 'the Vertical Experience Zone'. At the bottom, you’ll get a record of your exploit via your smartphone or Facebook page and the right to boast to your friends.
Fear factor: 4/5
03. Corbet's Couloir, Jackson Hole
Corbet's has a worldwide reputation as the run that every hard-core skier must do once in a lifetime. More people come to look than leap and it usually takes several visits before you pluck up courage. The terror lies entirely in the start as you decide how to leap into it. The 'easy way' is a 3-4m jump followed by a quick turn to avoid a rock. The alternative is a 'heart-in-mouth' 6 metre leap and you avoid the rock…
Fear factor: 5++++/5
Calling all petrolheads
01. Snowmobiling, Meribel
Speed up and down ski runs in the moonlight and enjoy whizzing through deep powder trails at the controls of this skidoo.
Thrill factor: 3/5
02. Piste Basher Driving, Courchevel
You've all seen them driving up and down the mountains making ski runs - well now it's time to get behind the controls of a Piste Basher (snow cat) yourself. Learn how to drive and operate this large tracked vehicle, a genuine grooming machine, round a varied circuit assisted by a professional pilot. You will learn how to push the snow around and be taught how to flatten it to make a pisted run.
Thrill factor: 4/5
03. Ice Driving, Val d’Isère
Designed to test both the car and your driving skills, driving on studded tyres you will learn a whole host of skills and techniques used by the World's top rally drivers, power slides, opposite lock slides and lift off oversteer. Apart from the excitement and adrenalin received from taking part in this activity, you will come away from the experience with a useful knowledge of how to drive on snow and ice.
Thrill factor: 5/5