When sitting in the office (or the WFH kitchen table), daydreaming of your time on the slopes, what is it that comes to mind? I think it’s safe to assume it won’t be going through airport security, or arguing with the couple in room 2 over the last pain au chocolat.
We have collected a few of the gasps and memories that have inspired us over the years, and kept us going through these tough non-skiing times.
Adrenaline Booster – Le Grand Couloir
Starting off with one of those daunting (but definitely not well-groomed) pistes – and certainly one that’ll give you something to remember. Le Grand Couloir in Courchevel is renowned as one of the most difficult black runs in the 3 valleys.
Glorious panoramic views over La Combe de la Saulire will accompany you along this tricky run. But you’d better take those mental pictures carefully at the start, as you’ll be making your way along a narrow ridge. But don’t worry, as you come to the bottom of the run it opens out and after a good snowfall this really is one for the bucket list.
The Tunnel Bravery Test
Continuing the theme of moments that may be more enjoyable after completion, but undoubtedly a must for expert skiers in the area. The tunnel run in Alpe D’Huez is sure to provide a gasp for those with even the steeliest nerves.
As the name suggests, this run is different in that it starts with you skiing through a tunnel, with this portal ending at the top of one of the steepest pistes in France. The gasp moment can be too much for some, meaning they have to navigate back through the tunnel to the safety of the other side.
Also, best to check the snow conditions before making your way into this notorious tunnel. If it’s too icy the challenge can be extreme.
Alton Towers in the Alps
The chairlift experience isn’t always the most exciting part of the skiing day. This, however, makes the more thrilling chairs all the more memorable. Over in Val D’Isere, we find the Leissieres Express- aka the ‘up-and-over’, aka ‘the most exciting chairlift in the world’.
Taking you from the Solaise ski area to Fornet, or back the other way, the Leissieres Express requires a head for heights and gives spectacular views of the Tarentaise Valley and the Col de l’Iseran (the highest paved pass in the Alps). One of the rare chairs that peaks in height at the middle, giving a rollercoaster feel normally found only at Altom Towers. But don’t panic if you need to close your eyes, your goggles will hide the evidence, just try not to miss the half-buried buildings and signs on the pass.
Also an unusual one in that you can chat to people coming the other way. Endless potential entertainment…
Whisking You Over Whistler
Upgrading from chairlifts to gondolas, and moving from Europe to North America, we make a stop in Whistler for another WOW moment.
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola in Whistler is the highest of its type in the world providing unrivalled 360° views of the surrounding village, mountain peaks, lakes, glaciers and forests.
If the fact that it is the highest in the world isn’t quite exhilarating enough, get yourself on the glass-bottom gondola for the ultimate bird’s-eye view.
Perfect Profile Pic at Pic Blanc
Now, moving from whizzing down runs and up lifts, to just standing and appreciating the beauty of mountains. Stepping off a new lift and getting that first panoramic view of the mountains really makes you stop and appreciate where you are.
A perfect example of this is the magnificent sights that await you at the top of the Pic Blanc, Alpe D’Huez. Perched at 3,300m in the heart of the Grandes Rousses massif, this breath-taking vantage point provides the perfect spot to stand and just remember where you are.
Hidden Valley’s Not So Hidden Secret
Keeping the same theme, but crossing the border to Italy. You may have heard of the Hidden Valley in Val D’Isere (check out Léo Taillefer’s Go Pro Line of the Winter if not), but there is also one to be found in the Dolomites.
Celebrated by those in the know as one of the best runs in the Dolomites, amazing skiing is at your disposal. It is however the awe-inspiring panorama from the top of the Lagazuoi mountain that could keep you up at night.
So the next time you find yourself at the top of the mountain, take a moment to reflect. Whether it’s your favourite piste or a new find, hold off starting the race to decrease the altimeter reading and ensure you allow yourself the appropriate gasp.
Making another U-turn. Turning from the serene stillness at the peak of a mountain to the noisy, busy excitement of the Après Bar. For many a key aspect of the ski holiday experience, and why not? It is perhaps just as hard to replicate in the real, non-skiing world.
A seasonaire favourite for good reason – Rond Point (The Ronnie) in Meribel is something to behold. As you cruise round the corner of the Chamois piste, you catch your first sighting of the venue. The music is blaring and the anticipation is high, just pop the skis in the pile (try to vaguely remember their location), and head on in.
If this is all a bit much then worry not, it isn’t the music and the flowing beer peche that matters most. Finding a secluded mountain hut to sip a hot chocolate can have the same effect. It’s all about being in the mountains and enjoying a pit-stop away from the normal everyday coffee shop.
So next time you’re pretending to concentrate on that Zoom call, take a second to think of those special moments in your skiing career that make it impossible to stay away. Perhaps pop open another window and turn the daydream into a reality?
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