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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:
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’.
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.
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!
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!
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!
However much we all talk about trying somewhere new — skiing in North America or joining the growing trend that is heading back to our former favourite skiing destination, Austria — most of us will go skiing in France next year. Whether it's the cheap flights, the large selection of chalets, or maybe we just love to visit our neighbours, for some reason we can't help but go back.
So, if we are going to ski in France next season — which nearly a million of us will be — what should we do while we are there? Cruising motorway pistes and heading to snowsure glacial resorts is the norm, but surely there is more to France than that?
Those who ski in North America will tell you that tree-lined skiing is one of the best ways to spend a day on the mountain; they will also tell you tree skiing in France is terrible. Well, they'd be wrong — about the skiing in France bit. Though France doesn't boast gigantic trees and a lot of the skiing is above the tree-line, there are some fantastic spots for tree skiing to be enjoyed — you just have to know where to look.
Tree skiing is great for a whole variety of reasons, but on white-out days, when many people are rolling around on the piste or sat in their chalets, it comes into its own. The trees break up the snow and offer definition, meaning you can see where you are going. They offer protection from the elements while holding the snow — which also means you can find powder stashes days after a dump, if you know where to look.
Tree-lined skiing is also accessible for skiers of all levels. For beginners and more casual skiers there are resort like Les Gets and Serre Chevalier, which offer tree-lined piste skiing, and for the hardened skier there are plenty of resorts offering some great off-the-beaten-track tree-lined back country skiing.
So, with the office filled with dedicated skiers, where do the Iglu ski specialists recommend for the best tree skiing in France?
Easy peasy, Lindaret Treesy — Portes du Soleil:
Anyone ‘in the know’ skiing the Portes du Soleil starts their powder days at the Ardent Gondola. It’s about a 20 min bus schlep from Morzine, but the views along the way — where you see the ice divers in the frozen lake to your right, and then ice waterfalls on the left — more than make up for it. The Ardent gondola takes you to my favourite spot in all the area, the Lindaret plateau. If you are quick enough you can beat the masses heading over from Avoriaz by taking the Lindaret express quad for the best trees run in the northern French Alps. The area is so good that Burton put The Stash — a park built from natural features — right through the middle of it. The Stash alone is a great tree run, but it runs alongside the lift to make sure the park-rat posers get maximum exposure. That’s not the Iglu way. At the top of the quad, traverse high skiers left, go above and passed the big rocks as far as you dare before dropping into the steep, but well-spaced trees. It looks like a dead end from the top, which keeps the tentative away, but there’s lots of little glades to aim for when the trees get tight and some tasty drops for the well insured to have a go at.
AJ, Iglu's Head of Sales and self appointed ski guru.
Prodains Cable Car — Portes du Soleil:
An easy path followed by undulating pistes that looks innocent enough, before the drop to the right into a densely packed tree lined section underneath the cable car. Usually void of any other tracks bar four legged footprints, this section is as picturesque as it is challenging. No 50 metres are the same, some turns so tight a complete standstill is required, some drops so vertical it's like walking into an empty lift shaft. The gradient and ultra narrow gaps between the trees ensures turning at will mandatory. The only respite is the clearing at the end in front of the lift station and welcoming sight of the Hotel Les Lans.
Thomas Moulton, Iglu's actual ski guru.
Les Arcs' Ultimate Tree Run — Les Arcs 1600
Up the Mont Blanc two man chair then take the Deux Tetes Button lift. Head down (skiers' left) off the button below the Deux Tetes Rocks (a real Kodak moment) and enter the ultimate tree run. You end up on a cat track above and (skiers' right of 1600), on the edge of the ski area boundary. Nicely spaced trees, natural jibbing opportunities and only locals know about it. There is a pretty substantial cliff line half way down, so you need to pick route carefully.
Nick 'Action' Jackson, Iglu's Les Arcs expert.
Le Fornet Cable Car — Val d'Isere
There are a number of reasons why this is the best tree run in France, not only is it steep, but the hill is quiet and the trees are relatively spread out. Plus there's nothing too hard to knock you out. Obviously, if you're going off piste you'll need to be doing this with a guide or with someone who knows what they are doing, but the specific spot is called Le Lievre Blanc or the White Hare. It's been prone to avalanche in the past and the trees that were knocked down have regrown and are relatively young. Therefore there is plenty of space to get some rhythmic powder turns in, top to bottom in one hit... man up and give it a go!
Adrian 'Scotty' Scott, one of Iglu's former ski instructors.
The OK — Val d'Isere
Catch the first ascending Funival with resort personnel at 8.15 to the near empty Bellevarde. Gunning it over the rolling cruisers the Folie Douce rapidly comes into view. The little wall after the legendary restaurant is sufficiently steep to warrant a turn or two but still wide enough to allow any mistakes to go unpunished. This leads to the narrowing tree lined piste G and Raye. Landmarks go by in a blur including the Triffolet restaurant and terrace complete with the smell of 'steak frites' and busy with skiers who by now look as if they're going backwards. The compression three quarters of the way down keeps the mind focused followed by the moguls of decent size and gradient. With the sheltered light and clearly visible terrain, this section offers the most fun regardless of the weather. Cheers from skiers on the chairlift above a bonus, at the very least you'll finish this satisfying run eager for plenty more.
Thomas Moulton, one another of his favourite runs.
If cruising around gentle to intermediate pistes is more up your street, then head to Les Gets. Pretty much the entire area is filled with trees and winding slopes. There is a great loop I'd often do with my girlfriend while working in Morzine, you head up the Pleney, then take the Belvedere chair lift, from there you cruise down the Granges piste, at the bottom we'd take the Charniaz Express chair, then head down either the Fenerets of Amresalles pistes. You then head up the la Rosta chair, head right of the lifts, then drop back into the main bowl taking any line through the tress that takes your fancy. We'd then head to the Choucas piste and round to Nyon, but there are more little tree runs to play with, than I'd have time to describe.
Another favourite of mine — but one I've only ever done a couple of times — is from the top of Le Loze in between Courchevel and Meribel, back down to La Tania through the trees. For this run you head right off the Dou Des Lanches chairlift, then off piste along where the snow blast cannons are — this area is a route that definitely needs a transceiver and a local guide — from here you eventually hit the tree line, which follows the Folyeres piste into town. Following a village local through the trees will take you on a fun-filled schlep all the way back into La Tania.
Having given you a few gems to consider, it's clear to see there is plenty of tree skiing to play with in France, as we haven't even looked at Serre Chevalier, St. Foy, Risoul or the runs from Tignes down to Brevent. Tree-lined skiing in France may not be as obvious as across the pond in North America, but that's not the say there isn't some cracking skiing to enjoy on your yearly pilgrimage to Britain's favourite ski destination.
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