The Black Wall - Close your eyes and go!30.03.2023 Sports & Leisure, Gstaad Saanenland Tourism, Skiing, Local News, Sports & Leisure, NewsUpdate
Last week, my esteemed colleague Jocelyne Page from the "Anzeiger von Saanen" took on the daunting challenge of the Black Wall.
Below is her first-hand report on the newly opened downhill slope of Glacier 3000, appropriately named “The Black Wall”, which at 46 degrees is one of the steepest in the world. With trembling knees, she stood at the tunnel entrance, summoned all her courage, and plunged into the kamikaze downhill ride.
I am convinced that jumping over one's own shadow every now and then builds character. Or at least I thought so. Because when I stood at the top of the new Glacier 3000 Black Wall slope one Monday morning, I got the jitters. The little voice in my head pointed out that the name alone screams of a neck-breaking endeavour! Perhaps, I should have thought twice about joining in, my pragmatic and critical Self pointed out.
Fortunately, I also carry a brave Self within me that reassuringly told me not to doubt my skiing abilities too much.
I made it down to the bottom in one piece, but I can't say I looked particularly elegant doing so
The descent was part of the grand opening celebration for the new tunnel and black run at Glacier 3000, which drew a lot of interest and a significant media presence. Thankfully, tackling the challenge as a group made it a bit easier. Bernhard Tschannen, CEO of Glacier 3000, was thrilled with the enthusiastic turnout and took pride in highlighting the project's superlatives: the Black Wall ranks among the world's most renowned slopes, alongside the likes of the Streif and Lauberhorn, with its 46-degree gradient making it one of the steepest groomed runs on the planet. The tunnel, which is equipped with an indoor ski carpet, stretches 265 meters through the mountain and opens up a new area for skiers. At the end of the tunnel, a massive garage door revealed the piste machine that's connected to a 1400-meter long winch attached to the rock face, which is used to groom the upper part of the slope.
And to be honest: I would also have loved to wear a rope around my waist for the first few turns because the first part of the slope is really, really steep...
I pushed myself off with the ski poles and plunged into the adventure - in the truest sense of the word: I tried to push away the fresh 20 centimetres of new snow with all my might. My choice of skis was not very advantageous; a wide freeride ski would certainly have given me more skiing pleasure than the narrow slalom ski that I struggled a little with. But I didn't let it spoil my fun, and with burning leg muscles - I tried hard to conquer the Black Wall. And it worked.
My conclusion: Regardless of the aesthetics of my riding style, the descent was an exciting and sporting experience. Still very steep at the top, the gradient decreases a little with every metre you ski so that you can manage your strength well. Nevertheless, the slope should not be underestimated. We had enough resistance thanks to the fresh powder snow and a good base. Icy conditions would have required more technical ability and strength. Depending on your skiing level, it is, therefore, advisable to find out about the piste conditions in advance before entering the tunnel to the Black Wall. Because once you reach the end of the tunnel, there is no turning back.
JOCELYNE PAGE | AvS