Harakiri Mayrhofen – The steepest slope in Austria
As you travel up the 6 man Knorren chairlift, you will pass directly above black 18 also known at the Harakiri. This is the steepest run in Austria at a 78% gradient. As the signs suggest this really is a run for expert skiers only, however as you will see as you travel up the lift, it is taken on by all comers. The entrance to the Harakiri is resonably gentle, with a flat run in before turning the corner and hitting the shelf. This is where it gets interesting and people really start to appreciate the 78 degree gradient. You can bail out at this stage, however it is a good hike back up to the entrance and expect plenty of banter from the chairlift above.
Most just decide to give it a go with varying degrees of success. The good news is that the Harakiri is regularly groomed using a winch operated piste basher and so in good snow conditions it is reasonably forgiving. You do however still have to ski it! If you can deal with the gradient, then a few decent turns will see you safely down the steepest bit. If however you let the Harakiri get under your skin, then the gradient can become a pretty big deal. Many approach the Harakiri with great bravado only to freeze at the top of the shelf, body turning to stone, not a proper turn in site resulting in the inevitable wipe out. Most people wipe out at reasonably low speed, however the problem when you wipe-out on the Harakiri is that there is no way to stop yourself.
When you go down, you are going all the way down, with skis, poles, hats, gloves and goggles following you in various directions! It does however look a lot worse than it actually is, with the biggest injury often to pride! To catch your achievement on film then watch out for the signs as there is a regular photo shoot run by the Mayrhofen ski lift company. This is normally Friday afternoon. Top tip: To find out whether your skills are good enough to conquer the Harakiri, it is a good idea to try your skills out on Black 17 aka the “devils run”. If you have no problem here, then you may dare to ride Austria’s steepest slope!