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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"Just home from Christmas in Val d'Isere... this was the best ski holiday I have ever been on. Val is stunning, the hotel fabulous, staff sensational and skiing out of this world. We booked through Iglu. They were fantastic. Peter had great ski knowledge, offered advice and went the extra mile. " - Pamela (Dec 2015)