You know the scene, you love your skiing. Nothing will stop you from hitting the slopes in search of sweet descents, epic views and lungfuls of fresh mountain air. But where to go? Big mega resort or a hidden gem away from the crowds? Much depends on whether you’re after the classic charms of a traditional alpine village or you’re happy to trade some of that for ski-in, ski-out convenience. Are you after fresh tracks or the steepest black runs? There’s one thing advanced skiers do need and that’s variety – plenty of red and black runs and off-piste to keep you coming back for more. We scoured the Alps to find the best resorts for advanced skiers and experts.
Tignes needs little introduction. Situated at 2,100m, it gives access to 300km of pistes. That’s a lot of skiable terrain. Top of your bucket list should be the World Cup downhill runs of the Face and OK. The former is a 3km long descent with a vertical drop of 959m famed for its steepness. OK is a great tree-lined run that descends into La Daille. But it’s the incredible off-piste potential of Tignes that sees skiers return year after year with its own dedicated freeride zone of Le Spot.
Mayrhofen is one of Austria’s best known winter resorts and popular with beginners and families. But it’s also great for the more advanced, home to the legendary Harakiri slope, the steepest in Austria. With 142km of pistes, many of them reds, Mayrhofen is a good sized resort offering a chance to explore the whole Zillertal area while the legendary Penken park is probably one of the best in the Alps. And when you’re done with that, you can explore the Hintertux glacier at 3,200m.
Alpe d’Huez is a classic large French ski resort offering challenging skiing up to 3,300m with a super modern lift system. It’s home to the Sarenne, the longest black run in the Alps, an incredible 16km run that drops from the very top of Pic Blanc to 1,830m. But there’s more to Alpe d’Huez than the Sarenne – there’s 250km of pistes, 20 high-altitude off-piste trails and several untracked gullies to explore for serious freeriders.
With 28km of black runs, a steep and challenging glacier and high mountains offering 70km of off-piste trails, advanced skiers will find plenty to love about Sölden. Even its red runs are renowned and would be graded black in other resorts. Expect long leg-burning descents. Freestyle fans should head to the BASE park or nip down the road to Area 47, the legendary aerial and adventure park.
Situated on the Italian side of Mt Blanc, the resort of Courmayeur is a well-known haunt for big mountain skiers. Locals will tell you the views are better, the coffee’s better and quite often the weather’s better too. While the resort itself is not large, the Monte Bianco cable car will transport you to 3,466m, gateway to some of the best off-piste in the Alps. If you get the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass you can also take the bus to Chamonix to sample the incredible advanced skiing there too.
The Swiss resort of Verbier is famed for its massive 400km ski area, challenging black runs, legendary off-piste and equally renowned apres. The run from the top of Mont Fort is a classic – high, steep and ungroomed, while going off the backside with a guide is one of the wildest off-piste itineraries in the Alps. But it’s the large number of un-groomed but accessible routes that makes Verbier a great destination for those looking to improve their off-piste, without venturing too far off the beaten track.
Part of the same ski area as Megeve and St Gervais – but not linked – Les Contamines is something of hidden gem for those seeking to escape the Chamonix crowds and get some freshies. While the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area is best suited for beginners and intermediates, Les Contamines has some challenging skiing such as the black graded Rebans, which drops from 2,450m to 1,577m. Confident skiers will also love the back-to-nature vibes and dramatic views.
The ski resort of Fugen is best suited to beginners and intermediates. However, if you take the short bus ride up to Hochfugen you’ll find some great skiing for advanced skiers. Think black runs galore and marked off-piste for those looking to improve. Fugen also picks up the most snow in the Zillertal, making it a popular spot for freeriders. It’s also home to the longest valley descent in the region.
The quiet and traditional Italian resort of Gressoney, which sits in the middle of the Monterosa ski area, is a surprise treat for advanced skiers. The piste map doesn’t show much in the way of black runs, but the reds are long and challenging, and great fun for good skiers. The off-piste is also limitless, especially in the Alagna side of the resort. Think long, wild descents dropping from 3,200m.