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What's Your Favourite Ski Run?

clock 11th June 2010 | comment1 Comments

The summer is now well and truly under way, you know four days of sun followed by weeks of grey skies and muggy weather. To get through this difficult period the team here have been reminiscing about our favourite ski trips and have shared the thoughts on our favourite resorts and apres ski bars. I've previously blogged about where to get your summer snow fix and what festivals are worth heading to this winter but one thing to yet grace these pages is maybe the most important topic of all, what is your favourite ski run?

Everyone has a favourite run, whether it's the piste where you first linked your turns, the most terrifying powder stash you've taken on or your favourite spot to find yourself intentionally inverted, or at least dreaming about it.

For each and everyone one of us skiing and snowboarding gives us something different. I love nothing more than a short hike with friends to an untracked powder line, it doesn't matter whether it's through the tree's, flying down a couloir or charging down an empty waist deep piste. I put this to the Igluski experts, who are a mixed bunch of hedonists, and an analysis of snow parks, precarious moments and motorway pistes were the discussion of the day.

With so many amazing pistes to choose from, I found it hard to decide for myself, Vaujany has some hidden treats and there are so many lines in Avoriaz but on reflection my favourite run of them all is Jerusalem in St. Martin. Taking the Olympic Express chair out of Meribel and dropping into the gentle yet enjoyable off-piste on a powder day before joining up with the legendary red run and straight-lining the rollers is definitely among my most memorable boarding experiences.

Here's what the guys at Iglu went for.

I'm having trouble deciding between the most fun best run I know or my most memorable moment on a mountain. On a rather significant birthday a few years ago in a particularly good snow season I was in Jackson Hole, USA standing on the edge of Corbett's Couloir looking down at a 30 foot drop. The cornice at the top was so steep and high that year that I couldn't even see the landing zone. It was a complete leap of faith. When I leapt into that empty space I reached a certain nirvana that I doubt I'll ever match again. However, if I was to do one run again for the rest of my life it would be the Rock Garden in Lake Louise. To blitz that field of snow covered rocks you need blistering foot speed, instinctive decision making, and the delicate touch of a dancer - AJ

My favourite park has to be in Tremblant. The resort has a few parks the biggest and most advanced has a charge to enter. I think this is fantastic because the park is exceptionally well groomed and not busy. So you can hit any of the massive kickers or rails with no queues, or without massive crowds of people waiting to see the outcome if it all goes wrong, although it is nice sometimes if there are a few cuties around. - Nick HH

Mont Gele to Verbier - Held in the same high esteem as Val d'Isere and St Anton, Verbier scores heavily over its two rivals with an abundance of challenging terrain. Evocatively named runs such as Stairway to Heaven hint why this Swiss mega resort is full of ungroomed runs suitable for intermediates and hotshots alike. With plenty of high altitude steep terrain and good quality snow, these hybrid runs officially marked but not pisted make for some truly epic skiing.

Typical of the resort is the run from top of the Col des Mines to Verbier, famous for it's generous vertical and Mont Blanc backdrop. As one crests the ridge after Lac des Vaux, Verbier's chalet studded plateau appears far below with nothing but a steep west facing bowl with miles of skiing in between. Bereft of lifts, pylons or anything man made, this jaw dropping scenery is so wide crowds soon scatter. Fellow skiers look like dots on the mountain, resort buildings far below likewise. Morning runs offers lots of good cold snow, afternoon runs with the sun setting around the mountains and Rhone Valley truly spectacular. Terrain on approach to the resort becomes more compact and by bearing left skiers are treated to mogul fields flanked by trees, an excellent opportunity to mix in with the Verbier's many bumps experts.

For those who want to start above the Col des Mines, this is possible by taking the Mont Gele lift first. Suitable only for the most experienced and in proper conditions, this fearsome section rewards hotshots with the knowledge their attempts are in full view of the restaurant terraces of Attelas 2. Whether a skier or a boarder and you start at the Lac des Vaux or further up on the Mont Gele, it all makes for a very complete ski. - Thomas

Streatham Common when the roads are blocked and the toboggans are out! - Tracy (she's a bit Urban)

I may be biased because I had a great season there and got to know the local secrets but it has to be in Les Arcs. After fresh snow it's all about the black run from the top of Deux Tetes above Les Arcs 1600 into the off piste through the trees, under the Mont Blanc chair. It is the ultimate tree run! Beware the cliff! It's a long drop when you're not expecting it. - Nick J

All 11 km or seven miles for the (imperial minded people out there) of highway 7. It's the run which links Zermatt to Cervinia. You get some stunning views of the Matterhorn as you cruise over to Italy from Switzerland. Don't leave it to the last minute to catch the return cable car because there are plenty of bars en-route to top up those dwindling energy levels. - Nigel

My favourite ski-run is at Sunshine village, which starts with a five minute hike right off the Wawa Chair. You head out of bounds through what locals call, "The Back Door". The run follows a river bed, and cuts through a long natural half pipe/canyon full of powder. As the course follows along a creek bed, you're forced into skiing flat out, following the contours of the river, it feels like you are on an insane waterslide! You then end up skiing deep in the glades, for some of the best tree skiing I've ever experienced. On a powder day, this is the stuff of dreams! Enjoy. - James T

La Balme in La Clusaz. Some long challenging turns but manageable at speed, never busy, a long satisfying run that leads straight to the entrance of a bar. - Calway

The Wall - Avoriaz. It's steep, it's bumpy, it's scary! - Adam Clark (The only blader in the company has actually done The Wall on them!)

I love the stash in Avoriaz. Its a park that is made from solid materials and is in place all year round. As soon as the snow falls its ready for action and the 540 Twisty Mcfly's can commence! - Ade

Belle Plagne - The one's with snow on otherwise I tend to find it hurts when I fall over - James (Head of IT)

It has to be one of the Itinerary routes down Mont Gele in Verbier.

The trepidation starts in the cable car where everyone's geared up to the max with the all latest gadgets that I can't afford. They'll need them skiing in my powder wake. You get dropped of onto the most basic of landing stations. It's just a metal platform stuck on the edge of the mountain. After a short hike it's time to click your boots in with the highest DIN setting you dare and look over the edge. No matter which way you dare through the couloirs, gullies, drop offs, or bumps, it's either steep or very steep. On a powder day... don't get me started. - Scotty

If it wasn't for the fact that the World Cup is on a screen two metre's from me I'd probably lose my afternoon watching clips on Mpora and counting down the days until I book my next holiday!

Written by Steve Adam



Summer Skiing Fix

clock 4th June 2010 | comment0 Comments

Summer Skiing Fix

Most people into skiing and snowboarding tend to take one trip a year to get their fix, but for some of us that just isn't enough. The feeling of fresh powder, corduroy pistes, bluebird skies and a cold apres ski beer runs through our blood all year round.

The winter season gives most of us the chance to get a week in with our ski buddies and maybe the chance to squeeze in a cheeky week with the more hardcore riders. But when the summer comes along how do you get through seven months without snow? Ok so I shouldn't complain about the 24°C weather and beautiful sunshine outside right now, but sitting on a beach, or by a pool with a mojito just doesn't match the adrenaline of a day on my board and sinking a cold beer with friends talking over the days events.

For those of us with the time or money the summer does provide opportunities to feed our addiction. For the weekend warriors out there, there are a handful of summer camps and weekend events held at a select few glaciers in Europe. For the real hardcore (and time rich) there is the powder of Chile & Argentina or the adrenaline-sports-fuelled Queenstown in New Zealand.

If the Southern Hemisphere is a little too far and the idea of hitting the park at 7am, and the skate park or golf course in the afternoon is your idea of fun, then Europe can offer some fun trips. The glacier at Zermatt will be open, with events such as the Natives weekender, for a more upmarket summer trip. If you are looking to hone your freestyle skills then there are a whole host of weekend and week long camps in Les Deux Alpes. With big name riders and UK legends, such as Antti Piirainen & Will Hughes to name a couple, mixing it up and offering coaching for serious enthusiasts and disadvantaged kids who have never seen a ski resort before.

For the powder hounds and serious off-piste skiers and boarders out there then a trip to Chile or Argentina could be for you. Realistically seven days skiing is a ten day trip due to travelling to the country and resort, plus if you were in Argentina why not take in a couple of days in Buenos Aries? Southern Hemisphere skiing is renowned for having easy access to untracked snow; whether taking a lift to the top of a quiet bowl, hiking with a guide or heli-skiing.

Skiing in South America is a specialist field with tailor-made holidays to Les Lenas, Argentina, Valle Nevado and Portillo, Chile. This is definitely one trip that is on my list of places to go before I hit 40 (along with Japan and Alaska), and one trip where I will definitely be letting the experts here at Iglu organise for me.

The problem with summer skiing is the cost and length of travel to the Southern Hemisphere resorts and the conditions in the Alps. Skiing in the likes of Zermatt, Hintertux and Les Deux Alpes usually involves a handful of pistes, slush and early mornings (pistes often open from 7am -1pm).

However serious your addiction to snow, if you can ski this summer you will.

 

Written by Stephen Adam



The best Aprés Ski bar in the World? Part 2

clock 25th May 2010 | comment0 Comments

First of all to follow on from The best Aprés Ski bar in the World? Part 1 I have to make a decision about my own preference and it's far tougher than I thought it would be. I keep remembering great times at so many bars. In Austria, the Ice Bar in Mayrhofen and the Krazy Kanguruh in St Anton are standouts. In Canada, Merlins on Blackcomb (Whistler) with Guitar Doug rocks. In France, the Rond Pointe of Méribel and in Switzerland the Aprés Ski bar in the Farinet in Verbier are greatly enhanced by the proliferation of uninhibited British customers 'on the lash'.

The number one aprés ski bar in the World is:

For the quality of music, the smoke flares, the flame throwing, the champagne splashing, the waffles, the DJ - David Dupenloup, and the incredible energy of Kely Starlight, the singing and dancing bar top host, it has to be La Folie Douce. This Val d'Isére bar, that is literally the French for sweet madness, just edges out the Krazy Kanguruh.

Secondly, after much deliberation and discussion here's what the Iglu team of experts came up with:

Bauer’s Skialm - Saalbach.

Indoor and outdoor bar areas, but inside is the place to be for the weirdest and wildest music and dancing. A real international crowd making the most of well-priced beers and shots for a torrid three hours: 4-7pm. - Boyd

Umbrella Bar - Santa Christina, Val Gardena

Euro pop, free shots, a fire-breathing bar tender and semi-naked dancing on the tables in ski boots combine to make some of the wildest après ski parties I've seen. It's only open from 4-8 but there aren't many people still able to stand up after that anyway... - James

Le Jump Bar - Courchevel 1850

If you feel that the combination of toffee and vodka is the best thing since sliced bread then this is where you need to be. If it wasn't for a slight uphill and small road you could ski into the front door. - Wade

Le Grotte du Yeti - Tignes

This is a great place to stop for a beer at the end of a hard day on the slopes. They have great drinks offers and a range of music that starts later on in the night as the drinking continues. It has a good upstairs bar and then the bands/DJs raise the roof later on in the night downstairs (definitely the place to be in Tignes when Doctor Bruce are playing). It is also right at the foot of the infamous Palafour, the best skiing in Tignes as any seasonaire will tell you. To top that off the more adventurous skiers can practically ski right to the back door. You can also sit outside and soak up the afternoon rays. What more could you want! - Ade

The Mooserwirt, St Anton

It's for those who want to express themselves by showing off their moves, grooving on the table with a drink in one hand, and an audience that appreciates the extrovert (Without the threat of a burly bouncer taking you out). - Nigel

Scotty's Bar - Tignes

Roaring fire and live music overlooking the heated pool outside. With some tasty bar snacks served if you get peckish. Low ceilings and wooden decor make this a traditional après experience! - Tom

MBC - Chamonix

Perfect place for massive portions of food after a day of skiing or whatever activity you are in Chamonix for. Well worth the walk out of town for one of their big tasty burgers and the fantastic beers brewed on the premises. Perfect for a good night out with a group of friends. - Jay (Cham Fanatic)

Smithy's Tavern - Les Deux Alpes

It's great fun, and serves the best hangover breakfast! - Esther

The infamous Dusty's in Whistler

It has everything you can ask for in an aprés ski bar. Ski to the door location, massive sun deck with BBQ's going in the afternoon. Pool tables inside and the whole bar is so spacious it can take a big crowd. The music, the food and the atmosphere are second to none. - Linda

Bar Le Monde in Val Thorens

Because... 'I love the barmaid'! - Nick J

Red Lion, Vail.

A perfect place to give it large in front of the soft Americans with their Miller Lights. The high altitude boozing promotes a real sense of euphoria. - Adam Calway

Seppi's bar - Kitzbuhel

Great music, icy cold lager, Jagermeisters and the chance you might run into the legendary party primate; 'Spank' the monkey... - Steve

The 'Après Ski Bar' part of the Farinet - Verbier

Total Carnage! Live bands about sixish every day, a roof that opens up occasionally to get rid of the steam, cheap lager and a raging mosh pit. Not a place for the faint hearted. It's starts early and goes very hard for just a few hours so get in straight off the slopes. - Scotty

Rond Point - Méribel

A great place after a day on the mountain. Whether you finish off when the crowds have gone home with a schuss from the top of the Saulire or emerge from the steeper and bumpier Meribel Couloir, where better than this. The talk is all about the day's exploits, everybody coming off the slopes can find it easily and the Live music means the hills really do come alive. - Thomas

The legendary Après Skihut in Rotterdam - Cynthia (you'd never guess she was Dutch)

Mooserwirt - St Anton

Exactly the same kind of atmosphere as the Folie Douce in Val D'Isere. Rather than playing funky house though, it ramps up at the start of the day with Europe 'the final countdown' and then rolls into a mix of euro pop and disco. Absolutely no posers here and with beautiful Austrian girls behind the bar & a seemingly endless supply of Jager Bombs, you can't go wrong! - Adam Clark (Iglu blading and monoboard specialist)

Bar Alexandra - Val d'Isére

One of the few places in Val that isn't rammed full of Henrys and Tarquins. This bar is underrated and away from the melee. Run by Val legend Kiwi Phil, the Alex is frequented mainly by French locals or those in the know. Rack up some pool, enjoy a Desperado, and listen to whatever hip hop or drum n bass cut of choice is playing that day. You can also grab some food in the adjoining 4 seasons, home to a tasty Thai curry. Done. - Dave

 

Pub Le Skilodge - La Tania

Après ski in the Skilodge is a pretty raucous affair. With a packed pub fuelled on toffee vodka, chartreuse and Mutzig, mixed with some of the best après ski bands in the alps and entertaining locals, anything can happen. Plus, where else in the 3 Valleys can you get a pint for under €5! - Stephen

 

Ice Bar - Mayrhofen

For those of you who cant get enough of your Dutch Hard House Umpa Lumpa anthems, start your night with ski boot stomping to those funny little dance routines, then the Ice Bar in Mayrhofen is the place for you. At the bottom of the main Penkenbahn gondola in the heart of the resort, this bar is said to have the largest turn over of Grolsch beer per night than any other place in Europe, and it shows as it gets pretty packed. Cool down by the beer spray....this place goes off! Damian

Krazy Kanguruh aka KK's - St Anton.

From the cute girls dressed in fluffy kangaroo outfits showing off their pouches, to the dirty dancing on the tables, I love it all! It can get quite cramped for space by 3pm but there is an awesome atmosphere in and outside, and whatever the time, it's always Jager bomb o'clock. - Nick HH

Darbelos - Courchevel Le Praz

The combination of 8% mutzig, open fires, savoyarde cheeses and weird local music acts is hard to resist. - Dave Mills

Feel free to send us your suggestions on the best apres ski bars on our twitter page.

Written by Adam Johnson

 



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