(Last Updated On: May 24, 2018)
Please enjoy this post about finding some of the best off-piste skiing in the Alps!
Image source: pexels.com
The thrill of skiing off-piste into the great white wilderness is what the Alps offer best. Ungroomed slopes give the exhilaration which the tailored ones do not. Documentaries often show skiers and snowboarders descending huge mountains swiftly, jumping off the edge of a cliff, and disappearing into the powdery white.
The good news is that the Alps offer something for everyone. While more advanced ski mountaineers can head for bigger lines, people with little backcountry touring experience – can also ski ungroomed slopes. So, if you plan to visit a European alpine country anytime soon, read on!
Minimizing the Risks
Make sure to consider these to minimize the risks on your new adventure:
- Consider the conditions of the slope. Is the snow stable? This article by Ski Club should help you determine the stability of the snowpack. You can also refer to authoritative weather forecast sites, especially for skiers and snowboarders, to determine the conditions of the slope.
- Hire a guide. A good guide will know the slopes and how they respond to varying weather . We have recommended specific guides for each of the locations mentioned further in this article.
- Carry an avalanche transceiver and a . Try to opt in for avalanche training to be able to use these tools properly and ride powder safely.
- Always ski with at least one partner in case you might need some help.
Backcountry Slopes in the Alps
Here’s a roundup of the best off-piste slopes that should be on your off-piste skiing bucket list.
Chamonix is situated on the border between Switzerland and Italy at the base of Mont Blanc. It provides access to incredible off-piste skiing in every weather condition. Chamonix offers a huge variety of terrain due to consistent snowfalls and multiple skiing areas, from couloirs to glaciers.
Booking a guide is recommended to help choose a safe course. It will cost an average of $408 for a group of four.
The Vallee Blanche
The Vallee Blanche is a must for adventurous and confident skiers. It offers every type of skiing you would ever want- steep, powder, ice, and couloir. The slope is a 23 km (14 miles) decent with a 2800m (9200 feet) vertical drop back to Chamonix. The route is not technically difficult provided the visibility remains good. You can finish the run at the railway terminus or ski your way back to Les Planards in Chamonix. The only catch is that you need to be physically fit to be able to ski for such a long time.
Les Grands Montets
With an altitude of 3300 m (10,800 feet) Les Grands Montets guarantees quality snow throughout the year. Skiing from the top is every skier’s dream. The route provides a vertical drops of 2000 m (6500 feet) to Argentiere.
Image source: Mustania.com
Built in the in Vanoise National Park located in southeastern France, Tignes is the resort that offers world-class backcountry terrain. The resort boasts of nine natural and ungroomed pistes.
Booking a guide is recommended to help choose a safe course. It will cost an average of $475 for a group of six.
A backcountry veteran, Guerlain Chicherit is responsible for the discovery of many off-piste descents of Tignes. The most challenging route, therefore, is named after him.
The run starts 980 feet (300 meters) after the Pramecou slope. Running along the ski line will help you find fresh snow. The run follows the Col des Ves chairlift.
Le Couloir du Chardonnet
The classic Couloir du Chardonnet is well-known for its steep powder couloir. It is accessible from the Grattalu chair and drops down to the Grand Huit chair. There is a bit of climb that needs to be done from the chair to the start of the run. The route carries the risk of avalanche in heavy snow.
The challenging off-piste route is for the advanced skiers and is accessible from the Toviere lift. The start of the run is a 30-minute walk from the list. The couloir is so named because of mouse-like antennas at the top.
The couloir is as steep as 48 degrees, making the drop one hell of an adrenaline-pumping adventure. You can organize a heli pick-up after you ski all the way down to the lake.
Les 3 Vallees
Spanning over 373 miles (600 kilometers) of pistes across 8 resorts, Les 3 Vallees is the biggest ski area in the Alps. Some of the best runs can be made in Courchevel, Meribel, and Val Thorens.
Booking a guide is recommended to help choose a safe course. It will cost an average of $435 for a group of two.
- Saulire- Taking the Saulire car gives you access to steep couloirs of up to 40 degrees on either side. The snow here stays fresh due to its northern exposure.
- Creux Noirs- Hiking from the top of the Creux Noirs chairlift gives you access to a host of off-piste routes. Drop off from the left to absorb the thrill of a 600 m (2000 feet)vertical drop.
- Olympique Express-The Olympic chair from Meribel will take you up to Roc de Fer to access gentle off-piste The descent is not very steep and is ideal for first-time off-piste skiers. The route is a mixture of powder fields and forest.
Image source: valthornes.com
- Mont du Vallon- The cable car in Van Thorens takes you up to 2952 m (9685 feet) to the top of the summit. The route down gives you access to powder-filled valleys with a vertical drop of 850 m (2788 feet), back to the lift./li>
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