WHERE TO SKI + SNOWBOARD OFF-PISTE IN EUROPE
If you're one of the adventurous skiers or snowboarders carving out your own stories across the landscape, Ski Club GB have chosen their favourite powder hotspots in Europe to get you inspired.
Credit: Ski Club GB
Chamonix is the French mecca for steep skiing enthusiasts. Home to hundreds of mountain guides, it is the perfect place to let the locals show you the best lines. Skiers come from all over the world to enjoy its un-pisted itineraries including the popular Vallée Blanche, a 20km route starting at Aiguille du Midi and finishing in the town centre, conditions permitting.
The run lets visitors drink in breathtaking views of the Mont Blanc massif while skiing down vast glacial terrain. In the nearby Grands Montets sector above Argentiere, Pylones and Point de Vue routes also deliver long descents and spectacular views.
Now that St Anton is linked to neighbouring Lech, Zürs and Warth-Schröcken with the Flexenbahn, freeride opportunities have almost doubled in Austria’s snowiest region. The St Anton lift pass area now covers the famous runs below Trittkopf down to Zug from Madloch Joch and the popular Warth bowl.
The mythical Valluga mountain is not for the faint-hearted: its myriad 'off the back' descents from the north face are legendary. The gut-wrenching summit descent into the Paziel-Tal is a must-ski route, accessible from a lift station but for safety, a qualified guide must accompany anyone brave enough to take on the mountain. A high-speed gondola can transport you to nearby Galzig where you’ll find popular Zwischen between the Ostang Einfahrt blue and the Kandahar black pistes.
Credit: Ski Club GB
Home to some of the most iconic off-piste runs in the world, Verbier is high on the powder hunter's list of dream destinations. The jewel in its crown is Mont Gelé, a soaring peak in the centre of the resort which is home to 360 degrees of steep off-piste runs. The backside of Mont Fort beckons adventurous skiers across the Petit Mont Fort Glacier and over expansive, rolling terrain. Explore deep bowls such as ‘La Mouche’ or Verbier’s off-piste hub, Tortin, where runs also come down from Gentianes and Chassoure.
Other fantastic marked routes include the steep and windy Vallon d’Arbi and the Col des Mines with its steady and challenging slope inclination. If the weather is sketchy, head below the treeline to tackle the steep Vallon d’Arbi through and explore trees runs towards La Tzoumaz.
La Grave is an entirely off-piste resort and it’s where skiers jump (not step) outside their comfort zone. Calling itself ‘The Freeride Village’, quaint La Grave sits in the shadow of La Meije mountain, home to sheer glacial slopes, steep couloirs and ‘must commit’ lines that will test the limit of your abilities. The couloirs, powder fields and glaciated terrain offer up some spectacular descents, dropping over 2,000m from the top of the iconic gondola to Les Ruillans. La Grave is not a resort for beginners, intermediates or those with little off-piste experience.
Instead of a piste map, you’ll find a warning map which highlights the lift line and dangerous areas such as seracs, cliffs and glacier crevasses. It goes without saying that you should hire a guide to make the most of the resort and feel at ease in your decisions for lines to ski. La Grave has no mercy, and its reputation as world leader for lift-accessed off-piste is well deserved.
The off-piste routes mentioned here are lift-served, but even so, we always recommend hiring a guide or instructor to show you the best routes and keep you safe. It is essential to stay up-to-date on the latest avalanche conditions and carry the right equipment – a transceiver, shovel and probe as a minimum. Comprehensive Insurance is absolutely essential and we provide one of the most comprehensive product options on the market. If you are looking to enhance your skills or find the right guide, The Ski Club of Great Britain’s Instructor-led Guiding services can help you explore everything these resorts it have to offer, with Freshtracks Off-Piste & Touring courses available to help you boost your ability. Get in touch today to find out more.
Don’t forget, Ski Club GB members benefit from 15% off at Snow+Rock, so visit us in-store for in-store expertise and ski gear from the very best brands.
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