For advanced skiers, the main requirements for a satisfying ski 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. Our ski experts have put together our collection of the best ski resorts for advanced skiers with some great off piste skiing in Europe and the rest of the world. If you are looking for off piste ski holidays, we can help you.
Best for easily accessible thrills
Whistler is top of our list as one of the best ski resorts for experts. Many of Whistler’s powdery bowls, couloirs and extreme runs are accessible right from the ski lifts. This makes Whistler ski 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 challenging terrain with stunning scenery
Renowned for its deep powder, Chamonix ski resort is a haven for expert skiers with some of the best off piste skiing in Europe. The four main areas for some bold, off-piste routes are Les Grands Montets, Brévent-Flégère, Domaine de Balme and the world famous Vallée Blanche. 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.
In Les Grands Montets you can try steep and deep glacial powder, pillow lines and relaxed gladed tree runs in the aptly-named Dream Forest. Ski down on ungroomed black pistes such as Point de Vue and 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. Brévent and Flégère are somewhat quieter on a powder day, with almost limitless options for pillows and lumps, natural table tops, half pipes and drops.
Best for unique off-piste experiences
A Mecca for experienced skiers seeking new thrills, Verbier ski resort is the home of extreme off-piste and is heaven for powder hounds. Our experts recommend it as 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.
Chassoure-Tortin and Col des Gentianes-Tortin are labelled ‘ski tour’ on the piste map and confident skiers may like to tackle these without a guide. The ‘high mountain tour’ routes, such as Vallon d’Arbi and Col des Mines, and the unmarked routes, Stairway to Heaven and Hidden Valley, should only be skied with qualified guide. Verbier also has the best clinics for expert skiers in Europe, so why not go back to school and take your technique to the next level.
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 with some of the steepest slopes. Many skiers have walked away when confronted with its 20-foot drop. You’ll certainly walk away with a story to tell.
Best for advanced ski holidays
This is one of our favourites for the best off piste skiing in Europe. One of the oldest ski resorts in the world, St. Anton is a snowy paradise that provides a more traditional ski experience. St Anton ski resort is part of the Arlberg ski area. One of the snowiest in Europe with steep slopes, tough moguls, and endless amounts of off-piste terrain.
There are plenty of deep-powder runs in St. Anton. 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. The Valluga descent into the Paziel-Tal to Zurs is one of the ‘must ski’ off-piste descents on the Alpine circuit. You must take a guide and it’s not for the faint-hearted. The Galzig ski area can be reached by an impressive high-speed gondola from St Anton and is another stretch of superb powder. For the less experienced, Rossfall in the Rendl ski area is a gentler place to start.
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.
Best for luxury
Despite its reputation for intermediate skiing, Courchevel ski resort is home to some of the most challenging black slopes in the world and great for advanced ski holidays. 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 ski 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.
Best for a short break
Avoriaz is one of the highest ski resorts in the Portes du Soleil ski area and enjoys some of the best snow conditions and off piste skiing in Europe. Experienced skiers should head straight to “The Wall”. A steep 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.
Best for high altitude
Not for the faint of heart, Val Thorens is the highest ski 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 difficult 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.
Best for experts
Morzine is one of the best ski resorts for experts. Advanced skiers will get their fill of thrills with a grand total of 20 black slopes, as well as large moguls and some of the best off piste skiing in Europe. The World Cup Downhill from the top of Les Hauts Forts is a daredevil’s dream. There’s plenty of cross-country runs too.
Freeriders can look forward to plenty of powdery off-piste around Les Gets and Avoriaz, particularly the challenging Chamossiere bowl. Morzine has lots of tree runs that are great for weaving in-and-out of too. For advanced skiers looking to tackle a labouring black, head up to the Swiss Wall at Les Crosets for a truly steep and thrilling mogul run. The ski resort is wonderfully French in character, with charming local markets, ski hotels and restaurants. If you’re looking for an advanced ski holidays but with plenty of local charm, this could be the ideal ski resort for you.
Best for heli skiing
Panorama ski resort offers an impressive 2,847 acres of terrain in British Columbia’s vast Purcell Mountains. The resort sits alongside Whistler in the top-tier of Canadian ski resorts and has some of the best heli skiing. Advanced skiers can take the Mile 1 lift to access the Champagne Express lift. From there, take your pick from the challenging blue and black runs taking you back down the mountainside. If you’re still not feeling stretched enough, follow the Canadian Way from the Champagne Express lift drop-off point, then take the Summit Quad lift up to the top of the mountain. From here you can tear down any of the challenging black runs making up Panorama’s Extreme Dream Zone and Taynton Bowl. Its former heli-ski terrain now inbounds and avalanche patrolled.
Panorama ski holidays are some of the most exhilarating alpine adventures in the world. Served by several heli-ski operators, Panorama mountain resort has developed a reputation for offering great heli skiing experiences. Find out more about Panorama heli skiing here.
Best for experts
If you are looking for more advanced ski holidays, consider Revelstoke. The vast Canadian ski resort of Revelstoke encompasses around 3,000 acres of ski terrain, including the longest skiable vertical descent in North America. The ski resort enjoys an average snowfall of 9-14 metres of powder each season. The resort includes 65 runs, two alpine bowls and 3,121 acres of fall-line skiing. Revelstoke is the global capital of heli-skiing, with both single and multi-day packages on offer. Experienced skiers will get the most out of the resort, with 45% of runs classed as intermediate and 47% advanced.
One of the best for off piste skiing, Revelstoke has access to some massive Rockies skiing and an abundance of champagne powder. However, backcountry skiing in Canada ought not be underestimated and to ski zones above the highway and railway, skiers need to check in at the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre and follow strict rules. The Selkirk has plenty of terrain to keep even the hungriest skiers busy, with bowls, chutes, glades and heli-skiing.
Best for powder
Located within Jasper National Park – part of the Canadian Rockies and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Jasper has the highest elevation in Canada, and as a result, enjoys an average snowfall of four metres each year. Marmot Basin covers 1,675 acres and has a 914-metre vertical drop, with 86 runs to suit skiers of all abilities. Marmot Basin’s extensive lift network includes the high-speed Canadian Rockies Express Quad Chair, which whisks visitors to an altitude of 596 metres in under eight minutes.
Best for groups
If you are looking for more advanced ski holidays, Tignes is a great option, especially if you are in a group. Set at a top altitude of 3,456 metres in the French Northern Alps, Tignes has some of the best off piste skiing in Europe, with a season that lasts most of the year. Tignes is particularly good for fresh powder, especially near the Chardonnet and Palafour lifts in Le Lac. You’ll also find excellent powder on the challenging couloirs around Le Grande and Petite Balmes, suitable for expert skiers.
Best for off piste skiing
Vail is well-loved by all abilities, known for its wide, confidence-boosting runs covered in soft, grippy snow. However, Vail’s Back Bowls make advanced skiers’ eyes light up. These incredible powder bowls fall south of the ridge. They’re almost unbroken by rocks and trees and not too steep so they’re great for building confidence. They’re lift-served and immensely popular, so we recommend hitting the bowls early when there’s fresh powder.
To find out more about the best ski resorts for advanced skiers, please call our ski experts today.
Other posts you might like:
Whenever you plan to go off-piste, you must follow the rules and respect the mountain. Never venture out without the right equipment. Take a qualified guide with you, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. They’ll ensure you don’t run into trouble and show you how to tackle some of the maze-like routes. Always check the weather, avalanche risk and be aware of crevasses, rocks and other hazards.