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18 Oct, 2013

The best high altitude ski resorts

Val d'Isere Ski Area Views

As every winter sports enthusiast will be painfully aware, the ski season only runs during certain months of the year, with the mean old sun melting the snow during the summer and ruining everyone's fun. However, if you just can't bear to stay away from the slopes then you may want to think about organising a trip to a high altitude resort, as these tend to stay open longer than other snowsports.

Another thing that's good about high altitude ski resorts is that they tend to offer more variety than other places because the extreme cold allows for certain geological features such as glaciers to form. While skiing on these should only ever be attempted by those who are extremely confident and experienced – and always with the aid of a qualified guide – it's worth noting that glaciers provide an excellent alternative to the slopes, and are open all year round.

So, let's take a look at some of the best high altitude ski resorts in Europe:

Tignes, France

The highest lift in Tignes reaches an altitude of 3,550 m, making this resort one of the best places in Europe for early and late season skiing. The higher runs tend to open in September and don't close again until mid-May, with snow pretty much guaranteed during this period.

There are also two glaciers to be found here, both of which remain open throughout the summer, so if you really can't wait a few months for your fix of winter sports then Tignes could be your get-out-of-jail-free card. It's worth remembering, though, that the Grande Motte glacier ski area is only open from around 7 am until 1.30pm, so it's best to make an early start if you want to make the most of your time here.

Saas Fee, Switzerland

Aside from being one of the most snow-sure spots in the Alps, Saas Fee is also among the most picturesque, with the village overlooking a crescent-shaped valley, atop which sits an enormous glacier. The great thing about this particular resort is that the glacier acts like a giant refrigerator, helping to keep the entire valley chilled throughout the year, which means conditions are just perfect for skiing.

Reaching a maximum altitude of 3,600 m, the ski runs here are often open during the autumn and spring, while the Swiss ski team regularly comes to Saas Fee to train in the summer. Aside from its high-altitude slopes, the resort is also home to the world's highest revolving restaurant, which sits on the Allalin mountain and offers some pretty spectacular views across the valley.

Val d'Isere, France

As well as being one of the highest winter sports destinations in Europe, Val d'Isere is certainly one of the most popular and is part of the enormous Espace Killy ski area, which also includes Tignes. The resort itself sits at 1,800 m although lifts reach a height of 3,550 m, providing visitors with access to more than 300 km of slopes and around 10,000 hectares of skiable terrain in total.

Three glaciers can also be found in the region, and at least some of the runs remain open from September all the way through to May. The sheer size of the resort makes it particularly good for early and late season skiing, as most other places will have very limited slopes open at these times, so it's good to choose a location with as many runs as possible.

To find out more about ski holidays in any of our resorts, feel free to call one of our friendly ski experts on 023 8020 6971 or email