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Top 5 ski resorts to avoid chairlifts

clock 27th August 2014 | comment0 Comments

In which ski resorts can you can access the most ski area without having to sit on a chairlift?

We were inspired by this topic after a question on our ski blog. Taking a gondola maybe preferred by groups with beginners, families with young children, anxious skiers or anyone that prefers to keep out of the cold (why are you skiing?) Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but for the majority of us we just choose whatever gets us up the mountain quick enough.

So for a bit of fun we decided to take a look at which ski resorts you can access the most ski area without having to sit on a chairlift. Here are our top 5 ski resorts to avoid chairlifts.

5. Val d’Isere, France

From Val d’Isere you can take the Olympique cable car to the Rocher De Bellevarde peak at 2827m where there is a huge selections of ski runs from the top. There are green, blue and red run options all the way down to 1785m where you then have the benefit of taking the funicular at La Daille back to the top. From here there is the blue Santons and black Face de Bellevarde which you can ski all the way back to Val d’isere.

On the otherside of the valley, the Solaise cable car gives you access to another green beginner area, plus the red run Plan that forms the black Rhone-Alpes or red Piste M.

In neighbouring Tignes, it is possible to take the Funiculaire Grande Motte and the Grand Motte cable car all the way to the glacier at 3456m before skiing all the way back down to Val Claret on a choice of blue and red runs.

4. Levi, Finland

Levi is a fantastic resort for beginners; the small ski area mainly consists of blue and red runs which are great for anyone new to ski, particularly with the quiet slopes and lack of queuing. What is also great for beginners is that there is only one chairlift - you can access the 43 pistes in Levi using the 2 cabin lifts, 1 chair lift, 14 T-bars, 6 drag lifts and 4 rope lifts.

3. Alpe d’Huez, France

Similar to many of the large resorts, there are many chairlifts in Alpe d’Huez but there is a surprising amount of bubbles, gondolas and telecabins where you can access all over the ADH ski area.

From the village in 1860m, the 1st and 2nd Troncon can take you all the way up to 2700m where there is an assortment of green, blue and red runs that take you back to ADH. Otherwise you can carry on and take the Pic Blanc cable car up to the glacier at 3330m. If all lifts and runs are open, from 2700m you can follow the blue runs Couloir and Boulevard des Marmottes to Plat des Marmottes and take the Marmottes 2 and 3 up to the glacier as well.

From Oz en Oisans at 1350m there are the Poutran bubbles to get you back over to ADH or there is the L’Alpette bubble that takes you up to 2050m, with green, blue and red runs to ski, or the Alpette Rousses cable car to 2800m at Dome des Petities Rousses with fantastic red runs that came take you all the way back down to Oz en Oisans or ADH.

2. Verbier, Switzerland

From Verbier village at 1500m you can get all the way to Mont Fort at 3330m using la Chaux bubble, plus the Gentianes and Mont Fort cable cars. Verbier is home to some of the most challenging skiing in the Alps, including the runs from Mont Fort. There is a fantastic variety of tough reds and exhilarating blacks from intermediates and advanced.

1. La Plagne, France

La Plagne has a huge 225km of ski area across the villages; yes there are mainly chairlifts to access the whole expanse but you maybe surprised how much you could access without having to touch a chair.

From the Grande Rochette ‘Funitel’ Gondola in Plagne Centre there are a variety of blue, red and black runs to ski down. From the top at 2505m you can head left to pick up the black Rochette or the leisurely blue run Mira back down to Centre, or if you head right at the top you can access the red run Carina which leads into a few blue options plus the Colorado Park.

Also from the top you can access the back of this mountain where you can head all the way down to Champagny at 1250m, although to get back to Plagne Centre you will need to take a bubble and 2 chair lifts.

At Plagne Bellecotte you can ride the Roche de Mio bubble, which makes a stop in Belle Plagne, to the peak of Roche de Mio at 2700m. From the top you can take the blue run Tunnel back down to Belle Plagne and Bellecote, or you can choose my favourite run in La Plagne, the red Sources which leads in to blue runs back down to Bellecotte at 1930m.

Also from the top you can access the back of the mountain on the fantastic blue run Levasset, plus the Bellecotte bubble up to the glacier. Even non skiers can take in the views at 3417m on the glacier as it is completely accessible from Bellecotte with the 2 bubble lifts. If you did want to completely avoid chairlifts, you can take the ski bus between Bellecotte and Centre, otherwise the Colosses and La Bergerie chair lifts can take you between the two ski areas quickly.



Top 5 once in a lifetime ski experiences

clock 19th August 2014 | comment2 Comments

As summer slowly starts making an exit and the nights start getting colder, we are reminded that winter is just around the corner and we can finally go on our next ski holiday (woop!) When choosing the next skiing trip our mind often wonders to those extraordinary bucket list destinations. Here are our top 5 once in a lifetime ski experiences to get your imagination running wild.

5. Heli Skiing in Alaska

For incredible alpine scenery and breath taking untouched landscapes, there is nothing that rivals a heli-ski adventure in Alaska. The Alaska ranges have been made famous by extreme ski and snowboard films – remember those opening scenes in Art of Flight? This was Alaska's Tordrillo mountain range.



Heli skiing and snowboarding in Alaska is the ultimate freeriding adventure; the varied terrain and epic snowfall will guarantee that adrenaline rush you’ve been craving for. The last frontier is so vast you will feel like the first person discovering a new mountain. There are a large amount of heli ski operators across the Alaskan ranges that run singles days as well as multiple day trips.

Alaska Heli ski runs are long, so you will get lots of skiing mileage during your trip, much more than other ranges in North America. Resorts in Alaska receive huge amounts of snow, with the highest parts of the mountains averaging 20-25m per season

4. Ultimate bragging rights in the 3 Valleys

Can you ski the 10 main resorts of the largest ski area in the world in one day? The answer is yes, and it’s an excellent day out that gets you to all the corners of this massive ski area. What better way to brag to your friends, than saying you’ve skied the 600km of the largest linked ski area in the world, Les Trois Vallées.

Our Sales Director, Adam Johnson took 3 Iglu team mates on a mission to conquer the French giant. AJ takes us through their epic day...

3. Magical landscapes in Finland

Skiing in Finland is unlike any other Alpine ski holiday. If you want to ski in breath taking, peaceful scenery surrounded by ice-sculpted forests and frozen lakes, coupled with uncrowded pistes and resorts, a ski holiday to Finland offers you a very refreshing alternative.

Skiing in Finland is varied, with a variety of runs suited for all abilities, but the ski areas are smaller than what we are used to in the Alps and ideally suited to beginners and intermediates. One of the fantastic reasons to come to ski in Finland is to experience one of the many unique activities at your fingertips. Enjoy meeting the animals and learning about their way of life on either the Reindeer safaris or the Husky dog sledding trips or for adrenaline junkies, you can get your pulse racing on one of the exhilarating snowmobile adventures and a magical visit to Santa is an absolute must for the whole family.

If you are very lucky you may even catch one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world, the Northern Lights. Head away from the town and bright lights and you should be able to see the lights at certain times throughout winter.

2. Epic Luxury in Val d’Isere

Everyone deserves a spot of luxury in their lives, which is why one must experience the ultimate luxury ski holiday in a stunning chocolate box chalet in one of the finest resorts in the world, Val d’Isere.

Well-stocked wine cellars, gourmet cuisine, private cinemas, chauffeurs, outdoor hot-tubs, a roaring log fire... luxury chalets are all about being pampered to the max. Good food is an essential part of a luxury ski holiday. The talented chefs are experienced and creative artists, producing modern and traditional cuisine to tantalize your taste buds. Everything in the luxury ski chalets are designed to make you feel relaxed, pampered and special.

Val d'Isere offers one of the world's best ski areas, the Espace Killy, along with accommodation for everyone and anyone. If you are looking for a luxury private chalet then look no further than Chalet Lafitenia, run by Val d'Isere's most exclusive chalet operator and offering the standards of accommodation, food and service that you would expect from a luxury chalet in a world class resort.

1. Riding powder in Niseko

Japan is home to the powder your dreams are made of. You may find it surprising that ski resorts in Japan get some of the deepest snow in the world. Located in the northern island Hokkaido in the Abuta district, Niseko is one of the most famous ski resorts in Japan. With an average of 11m of snow fall a year it is regarded as one of the snowiest ski resorts in the world. Niseko is made up of five interlinked areas, Annapuri, Higashiyama (Village), Hirafu, Hanazono & Moiwa. Hirafu is the main resort where you will find the majority of the town and accommodation.

The terrain at Niseko is varied; the main ski area offers great ‘ski-what-you-can-see’ terrain with easy to access to fun off piste between the main ski runs. The legendary tree runs are in the strawberry fields and Miharashi with steep runs at the super alpen course and under the Kogen gondola.

I was lucky enough to be in Niseko for a few months of the 2013-14 season and can guarantee that nothing will compare after a trip to this ski mecca. The trip does require a 13 hour flight to Tokoyo, followed by a domestic flight to Sapporo and then a 2-3 hour coach transfer straight to the resort, but once you’ve had that first day in fresh, waist deep champagne powder you will forget all about that journey to this dream destination.

There may be a ton of snowfall in Niseko but bad weather doesn’t have to mean bad visibility with the bounty of tree runs and off piste forests to ski through. If you are lucky enough to get a clear day on the hill then you can marvel at the stunning view of Mount Yotei and views of the ocean if you get high enough. If you live for powder days and fanaticise about white snowscapes that your favourite skiers and snowboarders go year after year, then start planning your trip to the land of the rising sun and make your ski dreams to come true.


By Krystelle

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Team GB update | What the winter sport athletes got up to over the summer

clock 12th August 2014 | comment0 Comments

What did Team GB get up to this summer?


Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 After a busy winter season packed full of Olympic achievements, hard work and plenty of pow, the Team GB winter athletes certainly have a year to be proud of. But what do they get up to when the snow’s gone all slushy, the main resorts have closed and the rest of us have packed up our goggles for yet another year? We give you the lowdown…

Surf’s up


Surf's up

The summer months provide a great opportunity for the Team GB athletes to get some well-earned down time, whilst still keeping active. Surfing is a great way to keep fitness levels up and also a great reason to head somewhere exotic for a sunshine fix. This summer, Billy Morgan gave surfing a try for the first time in Portugal and got so hooked, he even headed to Bali to alongside teammate James ‘Woodsy’ Woods to get in extra practice. Other surf fans from Team GB include Aimee Fuller and Jenny Jones; Jones frequently spends her time-off hitting up the Devon and Cornwall coasts.

Surfing isn’t the only board sport that many of the athletes have been participating in, with avid skaters Billy Morgan and Dom Harington planning on filling their summers with plenty of skate park sessions. Over in Belfast, Aimee Fuller has been a regular visitor at her local wakeboarding centre Cable & Wake, where she has been learning how to do her best tricks out on the water.

Showing support for sport


Tennis

When not participating in their own sports, the athletes are often spotted showing support for other sporting disciplines. Both Lizzy Yarnold and Jenny Jones were in attendance at Wimbledon this year to cheer on the world’s best tennis stars. Jones also came out to show support at the Push the Prom girls skateboarding event and the Chippenham Games.

In keeping up with her new found love for wakeboarding, Aimee Fuller attended the Irish Cable & Wake contest and a Red Bull Go Karting with the stars session. Billy Morgan, a fellow Red Bull athlete met up with other Red Bull team members across various motorsport disciplines to show them his support in the Goodwill Festival of Speed.

There were still plenty of the snowsport events over the summer, with Jenny Jones attending the fundraiser for the youth charity Snow-Camp, of which she is a patron. Katie Summerhayes was a guest judge at this year’s English Slopestyle Championships, showing support to the next generation of promising winter sport athletes.

Saddle sores & downswings


Golfing

As well as supporting other sports, many of the athletes are keen to give other disciplines a try for themselves. Ben Kilner cycled from London to Paris with Oakley and Dom Harington also got involved in the cycling, with a London to Milton Keynes bike ride. In addition, Kilner jumped at the chance to participate in his second love – golf – with the Oakley King of Greens tournament (he won the final prize!).

Golf seems to have been popular this summer amongst Team GB, with Jamie Nicholls and Jenny Jones also taking a swing in the King of Greens. Over in Canada, Woodsy was invited to take part in the TJ Schiller Charity ‘Golf’ Invitational - a fun day of not-so-serious golf to raise money for a good cause – the Sarah Burke Foundation.

Rehab & recovery


R&R

The summer months are the perfect time for the athletes to get to the gym to work on strength and cardio training ready for the next season. However, they’re also a time to treat niggling injuries and fit in some rehabilitation. At the beginning of the summer, Jenny Jones had surgery to fix a shoulder injury, giving her the summer to recover and get strong again for winter.

As well as taking some physical downtime, many of the athletes will be using their time off to catch up with their nearest and dearest. Jamie Nicholls has plans for holidays and family time in the Maldives and Majorca, Woodsy has been hanging out with his girlfriend in Bali and New Zealand and Dom Harington also has some holiday time set aside with his family.

Hitting up the glaciers


Zermatt

Most athletes have a much shorter summer season than we’re used to and it’s not long before they head out to find more skiing and boarding opportunities, whether in the Southern hemisphere or closer to home in Europe. This year, Jenny Jones went glacier skiing in Verbier and Katie Summerhayes and Rowan Cheshire attended the British Freeski camps in Cervinia and Zermatt.

Summerhayes also jetted off to the Whistler-Blackcomb glacier in Canada along with team mate Woodsy to attend the Momentum Ski Camps – the place where Woodsy spent his summer’s training as a kid. He also travelled to New Zealand to catch some pow, as did fellow Team GB athlete Billy Morgan.

Catching up with personal goals


Personal goals

Having time off over the summer is also about catching up with personal goals and for the athletes this means getting to do the things that they are too busy to accomplish the rest of the year round. Katie Summerhayes passed her driving test this summer and Aimee Fuller passed her motorbike test (well done guys!). Aimee celebrated in style by heading off to Norway for a motorbike roadtrip / snowboarding / skating adventure.

Fridge riding


Snowdomes

When Team GB aren’t attending training camps or taking some much needed holidays, many of them can be spotted getting in some runs on their local ski slopes. Jamie Nicholls is a regular the Friday night freestyle sessions at the Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead, Katie Summerhayes is a regular at Snozone, Castleford and Rowan Cheshire is often spotted at Chill Factore, Manchester.



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