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Top 5 Glacier Resorts for Freeride and Summer Skiing

clock 14th June 2013 | comment1 Comments

Continuing with our popular Top 5 blogs, this week is an exciting one!

We came up with the idea to do a top 5 ‘Glacier Resorts for Freeride and Summer Skiing’. There is no better person to do this than Ewa, our Commercial Executive and freeride enthusiast.

'These are my top 5 places to go for Summer/early and late season skiing. My favourite is Hintertaux - not only are there incredible places for freetouring but also you've got a chance to practise some gnarly tricks in the snowy Betterpark!'

 

Here is what she came up with:

1. Hintertux

The best thing about Hintertux is the lack of queues due to its super-fast lift-system! The real secret there is off piste! Amazing area for free-touring, practising slaloms for professionals from all over the world and there is plenty of activities that you can take part in after shredding the area on skis! Snowboarders and free-skiers certainly appreciate the year round freestyle opportunities at the Betterpark Hintertux at 3200m at the foot of the majestic Olperer Mountain and is a favourite meeting point for local riders as well as the international scene. For beginners I would advise friendly Hintertux Familypark. There are no two ways about it that Hinter is one of the highest freestyle-spots in Austria and is considered by many to be the best Snowpark in the Alps- Skieresort.de 2011 awarded it as a ‘Best Glacier Ski Resort WORLDWIDE’.



2. Stubai

The Stubai Glacier reaches an altitude of 3300m and it goes without saying that it has fabulous views too! Long runs, very wide tracks and not crowded – best suited for beginners and intermediate skiers. Steep skiing can be very limited, therefore go to Freeride Stubai Centre and get some more info. It is worthy to consider hiring an experienced IFMGA guide, so you won’t miss getting to ‘Hinterer Daunkopf’ col! In fact, Stubai is incredible for both off-piste skiers and snowboarders. Besides, the location is very convenient by being close to Innsbruck Airport with several low-cost airlines flying there.

3. Pitztal

Not so many runs, however it is very decent particularly for the training purposes. It can be very crowded with the first three Bahns during October and November (full of professional skiers), then it gets more chilled and during the rest of season there are basically no crowds. Don’t miss Panorama run (very steep and icy- amazing for giant and downhill!). If you’re looking for gnarly places for freeride, spectacular views, friendly Tyrolian people, great value of money and no queues- Pitztal has it all! Only on the evenings there is not much going on, so if you’re after après ski, go to nearby Ischgl or Solden where skiing is amazing too – hey! It’s Austria!



4. Les 2 Alpes

It is the largest ski resort in the Dauphine region and is the second oldest ski resort in France, after Chamonix. If you’re looking for a good mix of great skiing, partying and extra activities in the afternoon, it is an excellent resort for groups of friends! The lower slopes down to the resort are steeper and more challenging than the higher ski areas, including the wide and forgiving glacier runs. In summer, Les Deux Alpes becomes a popular venue for downhill and freeride mountain biking. Hence, summer skiing in Les 2 Alpes takes place between 2800m and 3600m. Just during this time you will be queuing at 6am, and then due to plenty of runs, you won’t feel overcrowded at all. Also, the park is pretty sick with a setup that had something for every level!



5. Kaunertal

The least crowded glaciers from all! Kaunertal has best setup in the Alpes for snowboarders and free skiers in autumn and spring. Apart from extra activities after skiing, there is not much to do in the way of après. However I love it! It is so chilled to get a proper slalom training there and also enjoy the Kaunertal Snowpark where snow is guaranteed from October until June.


 

Wow, after that we certainly wish we were out skiing right now! Stay tuned for next week's Top 5!



Nick's Top 5 Cheap Bites In Europe

clock 7th June 2013 | comment0 Comments

We love to write fun blogs and do top lists here at Iglu Ski so this week we came up with one that we know you will all enjoy! We decided to put together a top 5 list of places to grab cheap and delicious munch on the mountains. I hope you're not hungry reading this, as an apple just won’t suffice after hearing our sumptuous alpine bites.

Nick Jackson, our Senior Sales Agent put together the list of his top 5. Here is what he had to say:

"When I started thinking about the best places to grab a quick and cheap snack whilst skiing I immediately started thinking about all the great places I have been to, with pulled pork sandwiches, burgers, wings, ribs, nachos galore and always amazingly tasty! With so much choice in the mountains it has been a difficult decision narrowing it down.

Special mention has to go to the place that saved me on numerous nights when I did my season in Les Arcs. Never had a better kebab! Le Kebab - Les Arcs 1800"

5. Pizza Schuss - Morzine Located in Morzine town, near the Tourist Office, it is snack heaven at Pizza Schuss with Panini's, hot dogs, crêpes, waffles and very imaginatively named pizzas. I'll have a Chuck Berry please?


4. Offshore Cafe - Verbier In a resort where cheap is a word that is used sparingly, pop in here for a relatively cheap offshore chicken sandwich and a beer!


3. Ski Food- Val Thorens Steak Américain...that's all!

2. Gasser - Mayrhofen A Butchers deli/cafe with mouth watering hot meat sandwiches and Gulash soup . It is all about a hot pork sandwich in a fresh crusty roll! Just across from the Penkenbahn it's a great place to pick up lunch or grab a snack before the après ski party! Locals affectionately call it Mäc Gassers!


1. Montagne Burger - Meribel Mottaret At number 1, the legendary Montagne Burger got a unanimous vote in the Iglu office. The Montagne Burger is a juicy steak, drowned in melted raclette cheese topped with spicy sauce and gerkins, packed between 2 sides of french stick. It is an absolute must if you're in the 3 Valleys!




Was the 2012 - 2013 ski season the best ever?

clock 2nd May 2013 | comment0 Comments

We have had a look at the Snow Data for some of the most popular resorts in the Alps, to see if this really has been the best season ever.

Updated 03/05/13: Added American and Canadian data.

The answer?

The 2012/13 ski season has been an astonishingly epic one for snow. The season started early with, massive dumps arriving as early as the 3rd of December. Large quantities of snow in the first fortnight of December laid the crucial foundations for what has been an excellent winter.

According to Alyn Morgan of the Ski Club of Great Britain, "It’s been a fantastic season for snow across Europe. The very heavy early snowfall built good base depths and set the season up nicely compared to last year’s late start".

"Whilst the large resorts in the Alps all had good seasons, it was the less popular areas in Spain and Bulgaria that saw the greatest improvement on recent seasons. The Dolomites also had a fantastic season with lots of snow falling throughout."





Meribel, our most popular resort for British skiers, had a great winter. Based on the snow depth at upper levels this week, 2012-2013 was the most succesful season there since 1995. At higher levels in the resort, which has skiing up to 2950m, there is still a base layer of 210cm of snow and it’s now May! Last season was slightly better, with 225cm in late April, although this difference can be attributed to the recent warm weather.

Verbier, another very popular resort for British powder-hounds and royals, currently has a snow-base of 290cm on the upper levels. Although this is marginally less than the end of season last year, when Verbs had 300cm, it compares favorably with the end of the 2011 season, when the resort had a base of only 125cm. Thus this season has been fantastic, although marginally less snow was left by late season than in 2012.

Other resorts don’t conform to this pattern. Elsewhere in Switzerland, the super high resort of Zermatt has more snow now than it did last year, 220cm in April 2013 rather than 175cm in April 2012. Zermatt’s recent record was back in 2009 when by late April, the base layer up high was an astounding 400cm deep.

Another resort with its own snowy micro-climate is Chamonix. Proximity to Mt Blanc gives Chamonix massive snowfall at the top. In April 2008, the snow level above Argentiere was an astonishing 600cm, considerably more than any of the resorts up the Tarentaise valley, so this seasons current level of 270cm, although good, is not unusual.

Whistler has had a great season, as demonstrated by the fact Blackcomb mountain is open for skiing until May 26th. Yes you did read that correctly, there is skiing in Blackcomb until May 26th. Canada had excellent snow throughout the season, with the picture below taken in Kicking Horse in December 2012, when a metre of snow fell on the Iglu boys in five days before Christmas. Kicking Horse has had an eye-watering 7 metres over the 2012 to 2013 season, which puts the snow falls in Alpine resorts in humble comparison.





Whistler collects the abundant precipitation from the nearby Pacific Ocean and the snow dumps in absurd quantities on the resort. This season so far Whistler has collected 10 metres of snow. That's enough to bury your house. Compared to last year, Whistler has had less snow, but is still currently above average in terms of snow depth.

Elsewhere in North America, according to our rough meteorological calculations, Aspen, Colorado had a below average snow fall this year, with 155cm at upper levels, compared to 350cm in 2008. In Jackson Hole, our favorite resort in North America for advanced skiers, there is bad news and good news. The bad news is that the 2012 - 2013 season was not as good as the previews two years. The good news is this still gives you a respectable 213cm of end of season snow base to play with!

Back in the old world, Val d'Isere has just has its most successful season for snow depth at height since 1995. Early season this year, Val d’Isere had so much snow on the 18th of December that the link to Tignes was closed and the avalanche risk was raised to 5/5, meaning an avalanche could fall at any time and all skiers had to come off the mountain. Storms like this gave the 2012 - 2013 a strong snow-base. The Espace Killy of Tignes and Val d'Isere tends to accumulate vast quantities of snow because of its geography and height, but this season has been remarkably good for the resort area. Crucially the season saw consistent falls of powder from December to April.

According to ski instructor and Ski Club of Great Britain technique expert Mark Jones, who’s based out in Val d'Isere: "It’s the best season for fresh snow in 25 years.".

So the best season ever? Let's say the best season since the '80s! The key improvement with this season was not just lots of snow, but lots of snow regularly. There simply wasn't a single bad week to ski this season, even right to into the spring. Now here's to looking forward to next year.





By Bernard Goyder © Igluski.com


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