Despite Chamonix’s reputation for steep runs and extreme off-piste terrain (both of which are still true) skiing in Chamonix is surprisingly varied and the Chamonix Valley has 155kms of piste with runs that cater to the whole spectrum of ability levels– not just the experts. The resort consists of four separate ski areas - lifts to two of the areas are within walking distance on either side of the centre of Chamonix, and the rest are linked by an efficient bus service included in the cost of a lift pass. Whilst skiing in Chamonix, country hopping is also possible. The Mont Blanc unlimited pass does not only include the whole of Les Houches (just 5 minutes on the free bus), but also Verbier in Switzerland and Courmayeur in Italy by daily bus for a small charge. For some excellent on the hill dining, we would suggest a visit to Restaurant Panoramic at the top of Le Brevent, which not only produces great food but, as the name would suggest, boasts spectacular scenery and is easily accessible by cable car.
For expert skiers, Chamonix is simply a must. With its deep snow, steep terrain and extensive off-piste opportunities*, there are parts of Chamonix that are profoundly challenging to even the most proficient skiers. Grands Montets has arguably two of the most challenging black runs in Chamonix, as well as offering some superb glacial skiing. Also, the black run off the top of La Flegere should not be underestimated and can get fairly bare, steep and narrow in places. There is an abundance of off-piste available*, much often looks extremely inviting, however just because there are tracks present does not mean the run is skiable. Furthermore, if you are thinking about venturing into the off-piste for a play then you would be extremely well advised to take a guide. There are amazing opportunities to explore with a guide who knows the area as powder fields and glaciers are in abundance, but watch out because some tracks often lead to steep gullies.
There are a multitude of challenging reds for higher end intermediates and plenty of off-piste to play in*. Chamonix is also home to the Valle Blanche which, with a vertical descent of 2700m, is arguably the most famous off-piste run in the world sweeping down over the glaciers that descend from the Mont Blanc - the views are simply stunning and the high mountain environment provides an authentic sense of wilderness. This lengthy run is certainly suitable for confident intermediates - if you can ski a red run then you can do this - but it is highly recommended that you use a mountain guide as this is area is all off-piste and across glaciers! Lower end intermediate skiers, however, can enjoy the long cruising high altitude blue and red runs of La Flegere (now linked by the gondola to Brevent) and Les Grands Montets. Alternatively, Le Balme is home to some fairly cruisy blues above the tree line.
Admittedly, Chamonix is perhaps not the ideal resort for beginners however there is still plenty of progressive terrains well suited to the lower ability levels. For example, in comparison to the other ski areas, Le Tour has some lovely wide gentle slopes, perfect for those first trips. Alternatively, Les Houches offers much more beginner friendly terrain, perhaps more appropriate for the less confident skiers in the group.
Widely known as the free-ride capital of the world, snowboarding in Chamonix is excellent and the resort attracts some of the most advanced snowboarders in the world. Additionally, with the possible exception of The Balme, most lifts are cable cars, gondolas and chairs, meaning that there are very few of the snowboarder’s nemesis; Drag Lifts/ T-Bars!
Widely regarded as an off-piste mecca, Chamonix really does live up to its reputation. A regular on the Freeride World Tour calendar Chamonix is the event that all the pro’s look out for. With such a wide variety of terrain on offer, it is easy to see why many skiers and snowboarders fall in love with the area without even touching a groomed slope! Chamonix has some great opportunities for those looking to get involved in some ski touring, but also has a lot on offer for those looking to make their first tracks in the deep stuff. An absolute must for powder enthusiasts, one of the world’s best freeride resorts is waiting for you.
* Ski Weekends strongly advise that off-piste skiing should only be undertaken when in the company of a professional ski instructor or guide.
To find out more about skiing in Chamonix, feel free to contact one of our friendly Ski Experts on 023 8020 6971 or email email@example.com
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