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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.
We love sports here at Iglu, so we have been glued to the Commonwealth Games over the weekend, and it’s got us thinking how amazing it would be to have a winter sports version. We take a look at the best ski resorts suitable to host the ultimate snow events and let you experience feeling like a true pro.
During the 1992 Albertville Olympics, Meribel had the honour of hosting two sporting disciplines: ice hockey and the women's alpine skiing. Five women’s events were staged: the downhill, Super G, giant slalom, special slalom and combined. The tricky Roc de Fer course was designed like the men’s downhill run at Val d’Isere and is one of the longest in Winter Olympic history and thought to be the most difficult women’s course ever. The Roc De Fer Face is accessible via the Olympic chairlift, although if you are looking for a less extreme way of checking out this Olympic route then there is also a blue piste that runs alongside down to Meribel.
Get a taste of the Olympic experience off the slopes and discover La Plagne’s Olympic bobsleigh. Enjoy the ultimate adrenaline rush with this once in a lifetime opportunity on one of the world’s most impressive bobsleigh tracks.There are 3 levels of fun from the family friendly Bob Raft reaching up to 80km/h to the Bob Racing for you speed junkies, where you take a seat behind a professional driver for a decent of up to 120 km/h. For this coming winter a new activity will launch: the chance to embark in pairs on the 4 man bobsled driven by Olympic medallist Bruno Mingeon. After reaching speeds of up to 130 km/h down the 19 turn Olympic track you can then enjoy your favourite aperitif with the man himself. Don’t forget your lucky egg!
The 2006 Winter Olympics were held in Turin, Italy and Sauze d’Oulx was the chosen site of the Freestyle Skiing events which included aerials and moguls. The new freestyle slope built for the Olympics just below the main part of the town, plus the resort benefited from an extensive investment in the lift system. With access to the 400km of the Milky Way and spectacular views to France this Italian ski resort is always considered a favourite. Famed for its nightlife and sense of fun, Sauze d’Oulx is not just a fantastic ski area, but also a perfect resort for an after party!
Situated between Saint Martin de Belleville and Val Thorens in the 3 Valleys, Les Menuires hosted the men's slalom alpine skiing event at the 1992 Winter Olympics. The rest of the men’s speed events were held in Val d’Isere, while the Women’s events were in Meribel. Giant Slalom competitions are often held here, including FIS events and professional training.
The men's Downhill, Super-G and Giant Slalom were held on the Face de Bellevarde in Val d’Isere for the 1992 Albertville Olympic Winter Games. This piste is often regarded as one of the most thrilling black runs in the world with its long length and icy conditions. In December 2013 the Face de Bellevarde hosted the Men’s Giant Slalom in the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, proving conditions were as difficult and icy as the rumours say they are. Over the hill, neighbouring resort Tignes played host to the Winter X Games Europe from 2010-2013. The highlight of the winter extreme sports calendar drew in the biggest names in freestyle ski and snowboard including Shaun White, Sage Kotsenburg, Candide Thovex, Torah Bright plus our very own Jenny Jones and James Woods. If you are looking to improve your freestyle, why not test your skills in the very park and half pipe where the X Games took place?
If you are looking for somewhere new to ski this season then take a look at our top 5 hidden gems to explore in 2014/15. Do you remember that feeling when you first discovered your favourite ski resort? Say yes to new adventures and try out these lesser known ski paradises.
Perfect for families Montgenevre is a pretty alpine village that sits on the French-Italian border. It has a fantastic ski area with varied runs and access to the 400km of the massive Milky Way ski circuit. It is particularly good for beginners and intermediates making it the perfect family resort. The traditional style town may be quiet but this is reflected on the slopes with minimal queues across the mountain. During a week in January, I often felt we were the only ones on the entire chairlift. With ultimate mountain time you can guarantee a memorable week on the slopes in Montgenevre.
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Perfect for snowboarders Sallbach is a superb ski resort and is renowned for its excellent range of pistes and efficient list system linking over 200km to Hinterglemm and Leogang. Snowboarders will relish in the varied terrain and 3 snow parks while on powder days you can enjoy pockets of powder and making fresh tracks through trees off piste. The fun doesn’t stop once the lifts are closed, after sunset the party sets in. Saalbach has one of Austria’s liveliest party circuits with 40 bars and discos to experience the famous Austrian après.
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Perfect for intermediates and experts Ideal for intermediates and experts, this beautiful ski area offers long wide red runs and amazing off piste skiing. Snowboarders will like the wide slopes and freeriders will find plenty to do with little jumps and bumps and challenging runs further afield. Champoluc is a hidden treasure in Italy; the charming, unspoilt village creates a magical feel for your ski holiday. It is inexpensive with great food across the resort.
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Perfect for off piste Klosters has acquired international status from the presence of the Royal Family and film stars. This beautiful resort oozes Swiss charm with its picturesque chalets and horse drawn sleighs. The Klosters/Davos Rega ski pass gives access to a fantastic 310km of runs that are serviced by an extensive lift system. The glittering powdered snow stretching far as you can see makes Klosters an incredible place for off piste skiing and snowboarding. As it is relatively unknown, there are many opportunities for first tracks.
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Perfect for a ski holiday you’ll never forget Arosa is an alpine fairy-tale resort nestled in the Swiss Alps. With spectacular mountain views and a village-life atmosphere, you will fall in love with this beautiful resort. This gem is part of one of the largest linked ski areas in Switzerland now there is a new lift link built from Lenzerheide to Arosa, creating 225kms runs. With enough skiing to keep all abilities happy and minimal queues, you couldn’t choose a better ski resort for a ski holiday. If you have any non-skiers in your group or you seek a more relaxed afternoon after a morning on the slopes, there are walking and sledging routes in the town and it is easy to meet up for lunch in one of the numerous mountain restaurants and sample a delicious Swiss fondue.
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