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Great ski descents in Europe

Le Face, Val d’Isere, France

The Face was the setting of the mens downhill ski events for the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics. The downhill was won by Austrian Patrick Ortlieb. With this history le Face de Bellevarde is a must do run. Running from the top Massif de Bellevarde at 2809 meters winding down the east face giving the skier plunging views of the resort, it is 2905 meters long with a vertical drop of 972 meters. This not one of the steepest run in Val d’Isere with an average gradient of 36% and maximum of 63%, it is technical. However the great thing is the piste are wide and open allowing brave intermediates a chance to enjoy it.

Vallee Blanche, Chamonix, France

The Valley Blanche is all off piste descent on high mountain glaciated terrain from the top of the Aiguille du Midi at 3842 meters to the bottom of the valley 1030 meters and is possibly one of the greatest descent in the Alps: The Valley Blanche is not a piste, but a high mountain route with unprepared snow on the glaciers and is 22kms long and a possible vertical descent of over 2800 meters.

When the snow is good, this is an amazing and beautiful classic route is skiable by intermediate skiers. In the middle of the descent, it’s possible to have a break at the Requin mountain hut for a good lunch and a drink. The views are breath taking and the snow and glacier landscape offer an impression of wilderness.

If you have previous off piste experience and a good skiing ability then there are many possible descents from the top of Aiguille du Midi from steep slopes, narrow passages between the crevasses, and endless fresh tracks. It is highly advised to take a mountain guide for maximum safety and also to discover the bests snow conditions.

Tortin, Verbier, Switzerland

Mogul-phobes, beware! If moguls are your thing then this descent will give you thrills and will keep your knees going for 3,000 vertical feet. If you’ve had knee surgery, avoid this route; if you haven’t, you might need it by the time you get down!

Insider Trivia: Although it is rated as one of the best bump runs in Europe, Tortin is actually mark as an intermediate itinerary. Regulars know that its only accurate when there’s a thick layer of powder, if you want learn more about Tortin then maybe check in with Verbier Ski School Alpinemojo.

Grand Couloir, Courchevel , France

The Courchevel Couloirs are visible from almost anywhere in Courchevel. They wind down the right hand side of the Saulire cable car appearing as thin ribbons of snow separating the bands of rock. Before you ski the Couloirs for the first time it’s a good idea to ski down Combe de Saulire and then traverse left off the piste and check them out from underneath. Grand Couloir is the widest, and generally considered the easiest and Couloir Croix des Verdons the most difficult to access. By traversing high off the piste and underneath the couloirs it is possible to get a feel for the snow conditions and even watch two or three groups skiing down the couloirs. You haven’t been to Courchevel if you haven’t skied the Courchevel Couloirs!

 

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