Best Resorts By Skiing Ability
Selecting the right resort for your skiing holiday can be a challenge. Too difficult and you'll spend your time struggling and becoming frustrated - too easy and you won't be able to push your skills. We asked our friends at Ski Solutions for their recommendations for different abilities to help you make the right choice.
Resorts for Beginner Skiers
The fantastic resort of Pila is a great place to start skiing, a small, more intimate resort than the huge resorts of France and Switzerland; the long tranquil green slopes of Pila gently ease you in to the sport. If you are skiing with more advanced skiers aswell, they are well catered for thanks to the abundance of reds and blacks higher up the mountain.
A quick glance at Lech's piste map might look intimidating for beginners, but don't let that put you off - less confident skiers can access almost all parts of the mountain, safe in the knowledge that there will be a safe and gentle route down. The exclusivity of this resort is also a bonus for beginners, with runs unlikely to be swamped at any point in the season - Lech has a strict policy of only issuing 14,000 lift passes in a single day, keeping the slopes free from large, obstructive crowds.
Cervinia is the highest altitude resort in Italy, giving it the most reliable snowfall and guaranteeing conditions that are ideal for ski lessons. For those strapping on their ski boots for the first time, there is a nursery slope accessible directly from the village, as well as a number of ski schools to choose from. What makes Cervinia perfect for beginners though, is the extent of easy runs available for those looking to take a step up. Cervinia has over 40 kilometres of gentle piste that have long, wide slopes on which to practice once new skiers are feeling a little bit more confident.
Resorts for Intermediates
Whistler has an average snowfall of around 39 feet in winter, which guarantees some excellent snow-sure skiing. The vast terrain includes plenty of off-piste trails, ridges, bowls and gullies that are brilliant for more advanced skiers as well as beautiful blues and reds, perfect for cruising down the mountain. Expect stunning scenery with plenty of pine trees and stunning views from the blue cruising trails. Intermediate skiers that want to push their limits will relish the challenge of double-black diamond couloirs such as Couloir Extreme, as well as narrow black woodland trails like Catskinner.
With a cleverly designed skiing area from the 2000m altitude down to the base camp at Bourg-St-Maurice, the ability level of skiing and snowboarding at Les Arcs descends from "intense" high altitude downhill skiing (good for those who want to step up the difficulty), through playful snowparks, beautiful alpine villages, and learner slopes, before revealing a bustling hive of aprés ski activity below. This is an excellent resort for intermediate skiers wanting to improve or be pushed in their abilities.
The Courchevel valley has a ski area that goes from 2,738m to 1,300m and which quite simply has something for everyone, including some of the best-groomed motorway cruising in the world. The fashionable French resort is home to some challenging black slopes too. From the top of the Dou des Lanches black run, it's possible to ski across nearly 1,000 metres of vertical black slope - enough to tax even the most experienced skiers!
Resorts for Advanced Skiers
Strong skiers and boarders will head for Argentière, but the run that's likely to stay in your mind for ever is the extraordinary Vallée Blanche, at approximately 10 miles it's one of the longest off-piste runs in Europe. After travelling up to the Aiguille du Midi in one of the most awe-inspiring cable car rides you can imagine, and having negotiated what can be a slightly unsettling ridge descent (the guide will rope you and may even offer to carry your skis) you're all set for the descent of a lifetime.
St. Anton, Austria
St. Anton is well known for its challenging skiing thanks to its serious off piste runs and fast reds and blacks. Even the blues here would be treated as reds in other resorts and much of the marked but ungroomed off-pisting is best tackled with a guide unless you are an expert.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, US
Made up of two mountains, Apres Vous and Rendezvous Jackson Hole has over 116 named trails to keep you happy, 50% of which are expert level. For those looking for the most challenging terrain we recommend sticking to steep chutes of Rendezvous Mountain such as the legendary Corbet's Couloir. However there are plenty of powder filled bowls to enjoy at the top of Apres Vous Mountain too, with exhilarating blues below.