We've put together our top five resorts in the Alps for off-piste guiding, so you can do even more exploring on your next holiday.
Why should you hire an off-piste guide?
The time we spend in the mountains is precious - usually only a week or two each year for most of us. And so making the most of it is crucial, which is why hiring an off-piste guide is a must. If you’re looking to get comfortable with the mountains, explore the routes that are likely to suit your ability and learn how to read the snowpack, then spending a day or more with an instructor or guide is for you.
As the home of freeskiing, it comes as no surprise that Chamonix is a hot spot with intermediate and expert skiers alike.
We have the Vallee Blanche to thank for its famously epic backcountry, and Mont Blanc right on your doorstep - as a result, there are more ski instructors per capita here than almost any other resort in the alps.
Chamonix is also renowned for its mountaineering, climbing and snowboarding featuring heavily in many extreme sports films.
Find a guide for Chamonix here.
St Anton, Austria
Renowned for its nightlife and steep terrain, St Anton is a confident skier’s paradise. The resort’s chutes, couloirs and valleys, far from the lifts are great for off-piste guiding. You’ll need to know exactly where to hike to find them, however, as the area extends to include the likes of Warth, Lech, Zurs and Stuben. These areas of the Arlberg have the highest average snowfall of any European ski resort - Stuben is arguably the powder capital with an annual average of 12 metres!
Book a guide here.
Take advantage of the ‘Four Valleys’ lift pass to ensure that you’re able to explore the neighbouring resorts; La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, Les Masses and Thyon with an off-piste guide.
Book a guide who will take you to Verbier’s finest routes on Col de Mines or Col de Mouches, hidden powder stashes in the trees of the smaller villages, or even experience hut-to-hut ski touring on the Haute Route via Verbier!
For expert skiers and snowboarders, the Backside Mont Fort run has glaciated terrain, avalanche potential and a long walk out, which means that you should definitely hire a guide who has good knowledge of avalanche awareness to tackle it.
After all, if it’s good enough for the Freeride World Tour - it’s good enough for us!
Search for a guide in Verbier here.
Home to Switzerland’s most famous landmark - the Matterhorn - we absolutely love Zermatt. Why? You have the Swiss efficiency to thank for smaller lift queues, endless slopes with early lift starts, coupled with three ski areas to embrace. Lift-served off-piste is often overlooked which is why Zermatt has made it on to our list, saving you having to do the hard work when ski touring.
On the North facing slopes of the Rothorn, you can find some great introductory off-piste skiing. In fact, many of Zermatt's slopes are north-facing, meaning powder can be found a few days after it has fallen.
Find a guide here.
La Plagne, France
La Plagne is one of the most popular ski resorts in the world - with over 2.5 million eager skiers visiting each season! The double-decker cable cars of the Vanoise Express linking Les Arcs to the 12 villages of La Plagne make it a vast and well-connected ski area.
As a resort, it is incredibly popular among families and beginner to intermediate skiers. So if there is a powder day you are competing against fewer experienced skiers for fresh tracks.
Head off from the top of the Traversée lift to enter the north face of the Bellecôte via one of several couloirs, for a true backcountry experience in La Plagne.
Book a guide here.
So, there you have it - our top five resorts for off-piste skiing. These attract the backcountry lovers and the powder hounds, so of course, that means they attract awesome backcountry ski guides too. When you’re visiting a new ski resort it’s also important to get yourself a map and talk to local skiers, ski patrol and the lifties too. These people know the resort inside out.
Combine a trip to one of these destinations with a passionate expert guide, and you’ve got a serious adventure lined up!