13 January 2020 from Danielle in Destinations

We're lucky enough to live within easy enough reach of the Alps, which offer some of the best skiing in the world. While there's no reason not to be content with freshly groomed pistes and a cosy selection of mountain huts, it's sometimes nice to take your ski holidays to the next level with a trip to a dream skiing destination. We've compiled a list of highest, biggest, steepest and most snow-sure ski areas in the world so you can start ticking them off your bucket list! Have you been to any of the following places?

The highest altitude: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, China

Until just a few years ago this award would have gone to Indian ski area Gulmarg, which lies at 3980 metres above sea level. However, this has recently been beat by the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain ski area in China, which lies at an impressive altitude of 4700 metres above sea level! Located in the province of Yunnan in southwest China, this high-altitude ski area is relatively small but still worth the trip if you're in the area.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

The biggest: Les Portes du Soleil and Les 3 Vallées, Switzerland/France

This title is split between two Alpine ski areas, the first of which is Les Trois Vallées, with more than 600km of pistes spread across 8 linked ski resorts and three valleys. Neighbouring Les Portes du Soleil also comprises eight linked ski resorts that extend over the Swiss-French border. Between the three valleys there are a total of more than 600 kilometres of slopes. Due to the enormous size of these ski areas, it's not uncommon to find uncrowded pistes even during high season. 

The steepest: Kitzbühel, Austria

Home to the famous Hahnenkamm races, the Streif downhill in Kitzbühel is infamous for its 85 percent gradient. This race track can technically be skied by any good skier, but requires great skill to navigate notoriously icy patches such as the Mousetrap. The Streif welcomes the world's top ski racers here for the annual Hahnenkamm races every January, where skiers regularly reach speeds of more than 200km/h and literally fly over sections of the slope for metres at a time!

The most snow-sure: Mount Baker, USA

This volcanic peak in the Pacific Northwest is said to be the snowiest ski area in the world. It definitely has no need for artificial snow cannons, having set an unofficial record for the most snowfall in one region back in the 1998/1999 winter season with a cumulative snowfall of more than 28 metres! This American ski area is particularly popular with snowboarders thanks to the snow park, but also offers plenty of variety on its 38 challenging slopes.

The oldest: St. Moritz, Switzerland

Skiing wouldn't be where it is today with the contribution of the Swiss, and most notably St. Moritz. Considered the cradle of winter sports tourism, St. Moritz claims the title of oldest ski area in the world. The renowned ski resort was born of a bet by local 19th-century hotelier Johannes Badrutt, who challenged his English summer guests to stay the winter and promised to reimburse them for their stay if they were unable to sit on the sunny terrace in short sleeves. Needless to say, the guests had a fantastic winter and thus was born the idea of winter holidays in the Alps! St. Moritz is still home to the world's only natural ice bobsleigh track.

The most northern: Riksgränsen, Sweden-Lapland

This small village located in Swedish Lapland is the northernmost ski area in the world and has slopes in both Sweden and Norway. With an altitude between 522m and 909m above sea level and 17 short slopes, this ski area is technically within the Arctic Circle, which should guarantee decent snow cover and the occasional view of the Northern Lights for lucky skiers and snowboarders! Riksgränsen is considered a freeride paradise and heliskiing is possible on the Swedish side.

Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!