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No.1 "Harakiri" - Mayrhofen, Austria

The Harakiri slope in the Zillertal 3000 ski area above Mayrhofen is the steepest groomed ski slope in Austria. Named after the Japanese term for ritual suicide by the Samurai warriors, it has an incline of up to 78%, making it steeper than a ski-jump hill.

No.2 "Sarenne" - Alpe d'Huez, France

The sheer thought of a 17km black run may be enough to put off many half-decent intermediate skiers, but the Sarenne isn't as difficult as it sounds, as the video below shows.

The piste is named after the Glacier de Sarenne where the run starts. It heads away from the main ski area and off down to the Gorges de Saranne, amidst amazing scenery.

Officially a black Sarenne in fact feels like a kind of blue-red. But the good think about the ‘noir’ grading means there aren’t too many beginners blocking your progress and there’s a constant fall line, no real flat sections. It sweeps away from the huge main Alpe d’Huez ski area and goes out on its own through stunning scenery. The resort has spent millions on snow-making and even flood lighting for night time runs on this world famous descent giving a starry alternative to the daytime wow factor. Plus there’s the requisite superb café to stop off at on the way down. It’s as close to perfect as a ski run can be. Access to the Sarenne is as per the Tunnel run and simply found by passing the tunnel entrance and continuing as far as you can go. You, therefore, have to cope with the black that precedes the Tunnel which is not as daunting as its grading suggests. The Sarenne run then continues for an arguable 17 kilometres and is not black. The run alternates between blue and affable red until it enters the Sarenne Gorge when it rather fizzles out into a 5k flat path. Where it distinguishes itself is that the scenery is stunning, the run is undoubtedly long and you ski a non-stop vertical descent of nearly 2000 metres feeling that you are skiing in an undeveloped area of mountain (which you are !) The reason that the Sarenne is rated black is partly because there is a wide steep 'nearly' black section at the top but mostly because once a skier has commenced the run; it is not possible to turn back. The Sarenne - alternative By taking the Marmotte III lift you can ski a couple chairlift served, very high altitude red and blue runs that liaise at the bottom with the Sarenne run and also miss out the black aspect of the Sarenne. There is no run back from the Marmotte III lift that will return you to Alpe d’Huez other than via the Sarenne.
No.3 "The Swiss Wall" - Avoriaz, France

No.4 "Hidden Valley" - Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

No.5 "Gornergrat" - Zermatt, Switzerland

Whilst there are so many slopes in Zermatt that could make a top 10 of great ski runs, we've opted for the lovely slopes coming down from Gornergrat, starting with Piste 36 on the map. Yes, yes, we know it's only a blue and that there's an abundance of really challenging runs in the area, but that's the whole point - you need to enjoy a few easy ones as well.

This is a beautiful warm-up run for the rest of the day with magnificent views of the iconic Matterhorn and Monte Rosa. Get the train up to Gornergrat, then head down to Riffelberg.

No.6 "Kandahar" - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

The Zugspitze ski area above Garmisch-Partenkirchen has a number of fine runs, including the fantastic Bernadein piste. However, we've opted for the world famous Kandahar run, used by the downhill racers in the World Cup, and a challenging 3.5km for the rest of us.

The surrounding scenery is beautiful, with almost Dolomite-esque mountains above you as the Kandahar plunges down though the tree-lined slopes. The run is number 5 on the slope map, which consists of 5a and 5b runs if you want to give both a go.

No.7 "No.7" - Mayrhofen, Austria

Quite appropriate having the Red #7 run from Mayrhofen coming in at no.7 in our list. Anyway, this is a great red run that sweeps down from the ... lift right down to. Nice and wide, it has fantastic views of the Zillertal valley as you go down it. For those skiers and boarders wanting those similar fantastic views, there's a blue run that starts and end from the same place.

No.8 "La Sailure" - Courchevel, France Curchevel la Sailure Graham Bell Good video of it...

No.9 "Jerusalem" - Trois Vallees , France Jerusalem (or Pramint), Trois Vallees - piste bashing heaven. A long, fast, undulating strip of snow that’s always in amazing condition (really!) and never too busy. Save the gym membership and try doing it without stopping all the way down to St Martin de Belleville. I sometimes dream about it in the Summer, is that weird?!

No.10 "La Face" - Val d'Isere, France

Full name "La Face de Bellevarde", this is a black run in Val d'Isère which was used for the downhill race in the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics, as well as World Cup races over the course of the years. At the time of the Olympics the organisers decided that they needed to put extra gates in as they thought they needed to slow the downhill races down a bit given the steepness of the pitch (the run is actually more suited to a Super G rather than a downhill).

The run is nearly 3km in length, and don't be deceived by the nice cruisy top section - the run gets gradually steeper and steeper, climaxing in the final third of the run, by which point your legs are going to be feeling it. For the majority of skier's who get down La Face smoothly, the view from the bottom of the slope back up to the top should certainly give a a sense of satisfaction.

Be warned, La Face is a serious slope, it's not the sort of place to be experimenting with your first black run !

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