Thrill-seeking skiers looking for an adrenaline rush don’t have to travel very far for some of the world’s more adventurous slopes. Europe offers a selection of the most famous runs so that adrenaline-pumping ski action can even be enjoyed on a weekend break not too far from home.
The Highest Runs The Vallée Blanche is Europe’s highest ski route, located in Chamonix and possessing a ski lift at a heady 3,842m. It takes skiers up Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe, with the route back down the glaciers into Chamonix being all off-piste. The run is famous for being one of the most scenic in the Alps as well as for its obvious danger element, being completely unmarked and unmaintained. It starts with an exposed ridge walk down from the lift and should be completed with a guide, as it involves skiing through narrow areas between crevasses. The run also takes the title of longest route in the World meaning that it is great for a ski weekend with more uninterrupted ski time and less time on the lifts.
(The amazing Vallée Blanche) The Espace Killy Ski area shared by Tignes and Val d’Isere comes in just shy of Chamonix’s record, with the highest lift being at a height of 3,456m. Here, there are also 27 black runs for the more experienced skiers who are after the bigger thrills.
(The Espace Killy) The Fastest Run ‘The Flying Kilometre’ is found in the Paradiski area and hosts the Speed Ski World Cup with a course record of 156mph. Speed skiing is the second fastest non-motorised sport in the world and when not hosting the professionals, the run can be tried out by those looking to embrace the fear factor on the slopes. It all begins with a near free-fall and concludes with a survival medal awarded when completed. Less accomplished skiers can even give it a go, as all it requires is being able to hold a racing stance whilst reaching speeds faster than the motorway speed limit!
(‘The Flying Kilometre’ in Les Arcs) The Steepest Run The Pas de Chavanette in the Portes du Soleil Ski area, also known as ‘La Mur Suisse’ (The Swiss Wall), is definitely one for the braver skiers with a starting gradient of about 50 degrees that leaves nothing to the imagination. After a snowfall, the skier traffic on the run creates moguls that can reach the size of cars, making the route even more difficult to navigate; whilst its exposed position means that snow can turn into ice quickly for a more treacherous descent. This one is ‘for experts only’ as the sign dictates at the top.
(The Pas de Chavanette) This link is packed with great ideas and offers for your Ski Weekend: http://www.igoski.co.uk
Jumping a snowboard (or skis) is something that EVERY snow user aspires to, yet very few can do it well. Or rather, it may look good when done well, but if not done well, then you look an idiot and everyone laughs at you. Or worse still you end up in the fracture clinic with a big bill!
In order to succeed, then there are three golden rules when learning: 1. Try to pick a jump (which is a jump) and not a “skier-created” whoop off the side of a piste with no landing. 2. Start small and KNOW YOUR LIMITS 3. The catalyst to a good jump is ALWAYS in the take-off.
Find a Jump First, find a jump or build a jump with a powdery landing. A good place to start is at the snow park, there are always small jumps with proper landings. Don’t start on an icy morning, instead wait until the snow has softened.
Run up Approach the Jump at good (moderate) speed. Enough to make it up the transition and into the landing area. Moderate speed is your friend. Too slow and you hang up on the flat bit, (the table top). Too fast and you get the wobbles or over shoot the landing which makes it hard on impact. Tip: Don’t just go into a jump all pumped and full of agro! Stand back (wait your turn) and watch others for tips on where to start the run up from, and how much speed you need. Look at who runs up form where and who succeeds, and who fails. Follow those that succeed!
Body position Keep your weight absolutely central over the board with knees bent and ride up to the jump with slight pressure on your toe edge. Remember, the catalyst is in the take-off. If your weight is not central you will inevitably keel over mid-flight, or nose dive or gawd knows what else! In the air When you are in the air, focus on keeping your body nice and straight, still keens bent, and aim to float over the jump, letting the jump do the work. Just focus on body weight distribution (keeping it central) and the jump will take you nicely onto the landing area. Remember: Keep your knees bent in the air, and always spot the landing, because you will go where your head (and your eyes) are looking.
The landing If you have followed the above and have started with the right speed, and your body is centrally positioned over the board, knees bent and your are spotting the landing – then the landing will happen naturally and without heavy impact. You aim is to land on a down slope, this washes away the speed. Flat landings can hurt – so try to avoid these! Keep your knees bent and absorb the impact as best you can.
Advanced: To get any height or set up for a trick then all of the above is relevant, yet you will want to pop an Ollie right at the last minute (as you leave the lip). Ollie’s can be practised in your living room. Ollie’s gain the rider useful height and set up the body for certain tricks. Other tips are to use your legs to extend up the transition to gain more speed and height.
The French Alps are renowned for some of the most challenging black runs and off-pistes available, where the steep gradients are certain to test the legs of even the most advanced skiers. Choosing the location of your next short ski break carefully can allow you to ski the best of the advanced runs in one weekend. Click here for some really good ideas & offers for your next ski weekend. We have listed some of the highest gradient slopes in the Alps; hopefully inspiring you to brave your next adventure: The Swiss Wall ‘The Swiss Wall’ is found in the Morzine-Avoriaz ski region and comes with the warning ‘For experts Only’ at the top. Those that aren’t put off by the sign might have second thoughts when they see the 50˚ angle of descent ahead of them! After the first few turns on the huge moguls at the top, the slope widens out for the remaining 200m. Conditions are difficult when it’s icy, so it’s best to attempt earlier in the day and after a fresh snowfall. Chamonix Chamonix is an extreme skiers playground, boasting the pick of the steep couloir runs and some high gradient glacier skiing. The Glacier Rond is a popular decent down the Northwest face of the Aguille du Midi with a slope of 45-50˚ for 800m of the trail. Alternatively, the Cosmiques Couloir is accessed from the same start location. In perfect conditions you can ski straight into the couloir, otherwise it requires three abseils before you can clip on your skis and descend the 45˚ gradient. Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckv0mBTVHuo La Poubelle Couloir, or ‘The Dustbin,’ is renowned for its challenging descent. It requires skiers to brave a 30m abseil over rocks to access the snow, so it’s best attempted with some mountaineering experience and a guide. Once on the snow, the 40-45˚ gradient will put your legs to the test on the way down to the lower slopes of the Pas De Chevre. La Plagne The North face of the Bellecôte in the French resort of La Plagne is a testing 35˚ to 45˚ in places, making for an adrenaline pumping descent down the mountain. This is an off-piste run, so hiring a guide will allow you to explore the best areas of the mountain. Meribel Meribel is part of the huge Three Valleys Ski area and so there are plenty of steep gradients to challenge the advanced rider. The Couloir Tournier used to be an off-piste route, but the resort has removed some of the trickier obstacles and turned it into a black run with an initial gradient of 37˚. Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU5ni9UTvlI For prices, ideas and more information about how to get to these places, get in touch! Call us on 0203 393 4671, or e-mail us.
Is it best to book a short break ski early in the year or wait and book last minute? We all ask ourselves this question when it comes to booking our ski trips for the winter. Ski weekends and midweek ski breaks prices are frequently related to flight prices. Flight prices tend to increase with time and can get very expensive on the last minute. For this reason it’s fair to say that early bookers will always benefit from lower prices. Plus, the room choice is usually better in the hotels and chalets if you reserve your room before the last minute rush. From full ensuite rooms to sunny balconies, booking early will secure those little extras which are so important to us! Ski weekends and midweek packages are currently on sale, so if you can plan your days skiing ahead, you can make great savings now. Offers such as £1 Lift Passes and 50% Ski hire are only available for Early Birds, so get your hands on those now! http://www.igoski.co.uk/cheap-ski-weekends-2015.html iGOSKi is packed with Early Booking offers and great ideas on ski weekends and midweek breaks: http://www.igoski.co.uk Our programme is full of great offers, meaning that you could now grab a short ski break for just £309! This low price includes flights, transfers, hotel or chalet accommodation, and 3 course half board catering. GET A QUOTE NOW Voted Number 1 Ski Weekend Operator by the Good Ski Guide, iGOSKi offer 3 or 4 day ski weekends to fit even the most packed of diaries. Options include Sunday to Wednesday, Wednesday to Sunday or Thursday to Sunday. Some bosses won’t even notice you’re gone! These short break resorts are top snow-sure destinations, all within easy reach of Geneva Airport for minimum transfer times. Choose from: Morzine http://www.igoski.co.uk/resort/ski-morzine.html Les Gets http://www.igoski.co.uk/resort/ski-les-gets.html Courchevel & La Tania http://www.igoski.co.uk/resort/ski-la-tania.html Meribel http://www.igoski.co.uk/resort/ski-meribel.html Chamonix http://www.igoski.co.uk/resort/ski-chamonix.html La Plagne http://www.igoski.co.uk/resort/ski-la-plagne.html iGOSKi boast ‘Maximum time on Snow, minimum time off work’ and you can be in resort barely three and a half hours after leaving Gatwick airport! It just can't get any better! Call us now on 0203 393 4671 or GET A QUOTE NOW
[caption id="attachment_2663" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Morzine village as seen from the Grains d'Or ski lift top station."]
Snow in Val Thorens, Meribel, Courchevel and the rest of the Trois Valees is expected on Thursday and Friday this week. In La Tania, the freezing altitude is expected to be as low as 950m, and wind assisted temps of -20˚C are forecast.
The Portes du Soleil resorts of Avoriaz, Morzine and Les Gets are also expecting snow falls at the end of this week, with the freezing altitude dropping below 1000m. Slightly lower wind speeds will mean the wind chill factor won't be as strong here; though -18˚C is still on the cards![caption id="attachment_2669" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="More snow forecast to hit the Alps this week. Pic: Val Claret, Tignes, 11.11.13."][/caption]