Monday, April 15 2024

1- Chamonix (France)

The very name of the French resort of Chamonix inevitably conjures up the image of Europe’s highest mountain, the 15,000-feet high Mont Blanc. Chamonix is, in fact, a valley where several villages offer the infrastructure needed for the practise of ski and snowboard.

The most popular areas among snowboarders include Le Tour and La Flegere, while skiers tend to concetrate around Les Praz, Argentiere, and Le Brevent.

Skiing in Chamonix photo
Photo by geeweaver

Skiing in Chamonix, France

Chamonix has a reputation for having tough and challenging slopes, particularly when it comes to off-piste locations, so it is not a resort that suits beginners. The area offers a total of 87 miles of pistes, 14 per cent of which are black runs, and a further 34 per cent is classified as “difficult”. The tree runs get a rating of 9/10, and there are two snowboarding terrain parks as well as a half-pipe slope ideal for freestylers.

2- Portes du Soleil (France)

With more than 400 miles of skiable terrain, Portes du Soleil is one of Europe’s largest ski and snowboard areas, which covers parts of France and Switzerland.

There are 12 resorts within its boundaries, but Morzine, Avoriaz, and Chatel get the best reviews, as they offer ample choice to both skiers and snowboarders, and are also known for their lively apres-ski scene. Avoriaz has terrain parks that are suitable for snowboarders of all ability levels, and the parks produced at Chatel are not too far behind. Freeridig is king at Portes du Soleil.

The ski runs at Portes du Soleil are classified as follows: 26 are rated as difficult, 105 intermediate, and 149 easy.

Portes du Soleil photo
Photo by Kenneth Cox

Portes du Soleil, France

3- Verbier (Switzerland)

This French resort gets full marks in terms of its incredibly challenging terrain, the quality of its infrastructure, and the entertainment options available. Skiers looking for the most extreme backcountry runs in the continent often head to Verbier, where almost 200 miles of pistes are available under a single lift pass. However, it must be noted that Verbier does not offer much in the way of intermediate-level runs.

As for the snowboarding scene, Verbier was one of the first European resorts to welcome snowboarders to its slopes. Two of the most prestigious snowboarding events take place at Verbier: the Freeride Ultimate Test Tour and the Freeride World Tour Extreme, and this should be an indicator of what snowboarders can expect. Tree runs and backcountry slopes are your best bets here, although there is also a great freestyle terrain park, the Swatch Snowpark. No half-pipe is available.

Verbier photo
Photo by chrisgandy2001

Verbier, Switzerland

4- Mayrhofen (Austria)

The picturesque resort at Mayrhofen keeps gaining in popularity year after year, although snow consistency can be a bit unreliable. Mayrhofen is now a favourite among freestylers, as it caters to all ability levels. Despite not having tree runs, there is a decent Burton Park, as well as a half-pipe and several good options for off-piste adventures.

Daring skiers can test their skills at the legendary Harakiri piste, which boasts a 78 per cent gradient. The resort’s 20 miles of scenic backcountry slopes are another attractive in the area.

Mayrhofen photo
Photo by directski.com_photos

Mayrhofen, Austria

5- Laax (Switzerland)

Although Laax is considered Europe’s official snowboard capital, the slopes at this resort will not disappoint avid skiers either. Laax features extensive freeride areas, two terrain parks, a large half-pipe, superb tree runs, and the added attractive of hosting the Burton European Open and the British Snowboard Championships.

Laax Switzerland  photo
Photo by jessejester

Laax, Switzerland

As the winter season gets underway, avid skiers and snowboarders plan their next adventure on the slopes. However, and following a fatal accident that involved a British snowboarder in December last year on the slopes of Chamonix, winter sports enthusiasts are reminded of the importance of safety.

The injury rate of skiing and snowboarding is roughly the same, at 4 injuries for every 1,000. As it is better to be safe than sorry, it is essential to have proper gear in place, which involves wrist, elbow, and knee guards, good-quality and perfect-fitting boots (whether hard-shell or soft) and helmets, and specialist thermal clothing.

Travel insurance should not be overlooked either, especially when it comes to off-piste insurance. Taking care of these aspect can add to your peace of mind and to a more enjoyable snow experience.


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