For the adrenaline-fuelled skiers or those stuck in a skiing rut and want to try something completely new then a ski bucket list is a must! Here are our picks on the best bucket list ski resorts to give you some inspiration so you can start planning your next epic ski holiday!
For the serious skiers, Chamonix is a very popular one and known as the mountaineering capital of Europe. It’s the perfect resort for advanced and expert skiers as its mountain faces have a 45 degree + incline at the Mont Blanc massif and it offers the longest off piste run in Europe, the Vallee Blanche.
Of course, the 17km Vallee Blanche is a must. It starts at the top of the Aiguille du Midi and descends 2000 metres finishing at Montenvers ice caves. Whilst the ice and rock formations are beautiful, they are incredibly dangerous so a guide is a must and will be trained and have the right rescue gear should anything happen. Make sure you pick a fine day to ski this route with good visibility and also recommend going as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
If you’re looking for more of a challenge, then the 6 day Haute Rooute ski tour from Chamonix to Zermatt is one to add. It links together the two most iconic mountain towns, starting off in the shadow of Mont Blanc and ending on the borders of the Matterhorn. Intermediate and advanced skiers can take this tour but you need to take into account the mileage you’ll be doing so fitness is a key aspect.
Known for its deep, light and fluffy powder, Niseko is a powder lover’s dream. About 15-18 metres falls per season on average thanks to a number of Siberian storms which hit the north island Hokkaido. It’s even normal for it to snow every day from December to March. Off piste terrain and backcountry skiing is legendary here and hard to beat elsewhere accessible by special gates around resort or on guided tours. Niseko also caters for all abilities with a large number of groomed pistes aimed for families and beginners. Niseko also has night skiing every day until 9pm so you can make the most of the mountains and experience how magical it is at night.
Other than the skiing, the immersion of Japanese culture is another big attraction. From food and drink to language, architecture, pop music and its outdoor thermal baths or ‘onsen’ which is the perfect way to relax after a day in the powder.
Also don’t forget to take loads of photos of Mt Yotei, Niseko’s volcano which forms an iconic part of its landscape.
Kitzbuhel is a picturesque resort in Tyrol, with a chocolate-box medieval town, cobbled streets and the stunning landscape of the Wilder Kaiser Mountains. Its ski area offers 185 km of pistes ideal for intermediates but it’s the famous men’s downhill of the Hahnenkamm course that is what it is best known for. It’s one for the bucket list as the public can ski down the course…just not at 100km/h!
The Hahnenkamm or Streif downhill course is the world’s most notorious men’s downhill race and the ultimate test of guts and bravery. Part of the course is the Mausefelle or Mousetrap which is a jump at an 85% gradient that propels competitors 80 metres through the air and is reached just 8.5 seconds into the course! The course can be skied by intermediate skiers but parts of the course including the Mausefelle, Steilhang and Hausbergkante are marked as ‘extreme routes’ and tend to by icy so are only for expert skiers.
Boasting stunning views at high altitudes of over 3,000 metres, Sölden is the largest resort in the Ötzal valley and undeservedly not very well known in British market. The best views are found at the top of the glaciers and from Gaislachkogel with suspended viewing platforms so you can take in and photograph the surrounding mountains.
Sölden’s biggest attraction in recent years, especially for Bond fans, is the 007 ELEMENTS cinematic installation towers at the top of Gaislachkogl. It opened during the summer of 2018 and is situated underground in the mountain to add to the secretive ambiance. It is a James Bond cinematic installation displaying the elements of James Bond films through a series of interactive galleries. It focusses on Spectre as the film was filmed in the resort but also presenting other titles in the Bond franchise.
Right next door, is the architecturally sleek gourmet restaurant, Ice Q which played part in the Spectre film. It has a large panoramic terrace that juts over the edge of the mountain top, perfect for taking in the views whilst sipping on a martini of course. The other filming locations include the Gaislachkogl middle station and the Ötzal glacier road tunnel.
Canada’s most well-known resort, Whistler sits at the bottom of two mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb, linked together by the Peak 2 Peak gondola to form North America’s largest ski area. Consistently voted the number one resort in North America, it offers not only challenging and powder runs but terrain for all abilities and an exciting range of non-skiing activities. For expert skiers wanting sheer thrills, then you must try the Coulior Extreme. Described as one of the most terrifying runs in the world, it starts as a very steep chute. Enjoy the panoramic views of the Coast Range peaks before holding your breath and plunging down it. Backcountry skiing is also excellent in Whistler with endless terrain at varying levels.
Whistler’s standout adrenaline fuelled non-skiing activities include a 4 man bobsleigh or skeleton taster at the Whistler Sliding Centre at Blackcomb mountain, used for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Whistler’s bungee jump, 160 ft from a bridge above a river. If mountain culture and music is more your thing then the World Ski and Snowboard Festival is amazing, merging international slopestyle competitions with music and arts.
Lake Tahoe, California
Skiing next to a huge, majestic glistening lake is something not many people have done and no, Tignes Le Lac isn’t exactly the same level of epic as Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe’s unique and world renowned scenic landscape is the reason why it features on our bucket list. Lake Tahoe is made up of a large concentration of resorts including Squaw Valley, Heavenly and Northstar, clustered around the magnificent lake. Overall, Squaw Valley is Tahoe’s best resort, catering for all skiing abilities and the largest resort with 3,600 acres of terrain. Skiers also aren’t just limited to the pistes as the resort has a number of cross country tours through its woods. Experts will love the KT-22, Granite Chief, Silverado Balley and Squae Peak areas which are characterised by steep chutes and challenging mogul fields. In the Emigrant and Snow King sectors, there are also some easy cruisy blue slopes and even easier beginner slopes at High Camp.
As the scenic lake is one of Lake Tahoe’s major selling points, visitors can also take a helicopter tour to see the lake and its surrounding resorts from up above. Or venture through the woods by a snowmobile on a guided or non-guided tour.
Experience the magical winter wonderland of Saariselka in Finnish Lapland, situated in the Arctic Circle. Finnish Lapland resorts are the prime destination to search for the Northern Lights, a bucket list experience for many. Although Saariselka is limited in terms of its ski terrain, it is the resort to discover exceptional landscapes, snow encrusted forests, national parks and lakes.
Saariselka is the perfect resort to share special moments with family. There are a number of activities and excursions including a special meeting with Santa, husky and reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobile rides, snowshoeing, cross country ski trails and even an overnight stay in a glass igloo! This is a once in a lifetime experience under the sky in complete seclusion and you could even see the green haze of the Northern Lights.