For advanced skiers, the main requirements for a satisfying resort are long, steep blacks and exhilarating off-piste adventures. North America and Europe have plenty of challenging opportunities to push even the most experienced skiers to the limits. We’ve put together our collection of the best ski resorts for advanced skiers.
Best for challenging terrain with stunning scenery
Renowned for its deep powder, Chamonix is a haven for adventurous skiers. Get the adrenaline pumping on the world-famous Vallée Blanche route, which is 20km long and off-piste. Then head to the top of the Grand Montets cable car for views of the staggering Mont Blanc, the Alps’ highest mountain. As you ski down on ungroomed black pistes such as Point de Vue, you’ll catch sight of the dramatic glacier and crevasses. With pitches of up to 45 degrees, runs such as Pas de Chèvre, Couloir du Dru and Rectiligne are sure to thrill.
Best for unique off-piste experiences
A Mecca for experienced skiers seeking new thrills, Verbier is the home of extreme off-piste. It’s one of the best ski resorts for advanced skiers. It even hosts several competitions every year to celebrate the fact. One of the most popular areas is the back of Mont Fort, a powdery bowl that affords views of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc on a clear day. To make the most of the area, explore it with an expert by hiring a guide, or try heliskiing. Verbier also has the best clinics for expert skiers in Europe, so go back to school and take your technique to the next level.
Best for easily accessible thrills
Many of Whistler’s powdery bowls, couloirs and extreme runs are accessible right from the ski lifts. This makes the resort a dream for those who dread long hikes through deep snow to get to that virgin powder. Whistler and Blackcomb mountains are connected by high, go-anywhere bowls, making them playgrounds for thrill-seeking skiers. For those who don’t mind a short hike, ride the Glacier Express chair to the top and take the Spanky’s Ladder hike. This leads you to four triple black diamond bowls that are steep, often quiet and well worth the walk.
Best for ungroomed exploring
With its steep and mostly ungroomed terrain, cowboy town Jackson Hole is a real gem for extreme skiers. It attracts instructors from all over the world who fight for the privilege of teaching on its testing terrain. Almost every day here is a fresh powder day and expert guides are a must if you want to find the best hidden spots. To really test your nerve, take the plunge into Corbet’s Couloir. It’s not for the faint-hearted – many skiers have walked away when confronted with its 20-foot drop. You’ll certainly walk away with a story to tell.
Best for expert skiers
One of the oldest ski resorts in the world, St. Anton is a snowy paradise that provides a more traditional ski experience. Complete with some serious ski runs, fun après-ski activities, and friendly locals. St Anton is part of the Arlberg region. One of the snowiest in Europe, and offers steep slopes, tough moguls, and endless amounts of off-piste terrain.
There are plenty of deep-powder runs too. Try the Albona north face. One of the longest off-piste descents in the Alps, which will test the ability of even the best skiers. St. Anton displays its off-piste itineraries on its piste map. These marked but ungroomed off-piste runs have graded levels of difficulty from ‘normal’ to ‘extreme’.
Even though these routes are marked, advanced skiers are advised to be careful when chasing their dreams of powder.
Despite its reputation for intermediate skiing, this Courchevel ski resort is home to some of the most challenging black slopes in the world. From the top of the Dou des Lanches black run, it’s possible to ski across nearly 1,000 metres of vertical black slope – enough to tax even the most experienced skiers. You’ll also find some steep mogul runs and a range of couloirs – the most challenging of which are the famous Saulire couloirs, with a maximum gradient of 38 degrees. The resort has an array of bars and restaurants (boasting the highest number of Michelin stars of any resort in the Alps) in which to round off a long day on the slopes.
Avoriaz is one of the highest resorts in the Portes du Soleil area and enjoys some of the best snow conditions. Experienced skiers should head straight to “The Wall”. A terrifying descent into Switzerland that, as the sign indicates, is strictly for “experts only.” Also on offer is a half pipe, slalom course and off-piste runs, as well as black slopes that descend to Les Prodains and an Olympic downhill slope. Avoriaz has a buzzing après ski scene including bars, nightclubs, pubs, piano bars and even a bowling alley.
Not for the faint of heart, Val Thorens is the highest resort in the Alps, reaching a height of 2,300 metres, with access to three glaciers and four summits. Although there are some gentler options in the 150km of slopes, the majority are hard-core black, red and off-piste runs for experienced skiers. The Combe de Caron, in particular, has a thrillingly steep start, and the 1,300-metre descent from Cime de Caron to Lac du Lou is best avoided by beginners.
Advanced skiers will get their fill of thrills at Morzine, with a grand total of 20 black slopes, as well as large moguls and off piste opportunities. The World Cup Downhill from the top of Les Hauts Forts is a daredevil’s dream. There’s plenty of cross-country runs too. The resort is wonderfully French in character, with charming local markets, ski hotels and restaurants such as the cosy and rustic, Chez Nannon. The wine bar, Le Coup de Coeur, is a great spot to share a bottle of wine after the sun goes down.
To find out more about the best ski resorts for advanced skiers please call our ski experts today.