Les Arcs – Paradiski (1200m – 3226m) – “Forest” station
Villaroger, Arc 1600 and Peisey-Vallandry are the three main areas for forest skiing in Les Arcs. Thibault Duchosal describes the attractions of each one.
This is without a doubt the best spot within the ski area as it boasts the steepest gradients, with the greatest altitude difference, and there really is something for everyone. There are an infinite number of lines and it is possible to go just about anywhere. By sticking to lines with visibility there is little risk of ending up on rock bars. Skiing is mainly through firs, with a few larches. There are some clear areas, where it is possible to pick up speed, and other areas which tend to get clogged up over the years with shrubs and bushes. The locals know the best places so you will need to find a way to coax these secret corners out of them in the bar in the evening. As this sector of Villaroger is a little out of the way, there are rarely many people here. It is quite possible to ski for a whole day, without doing the same descent twice and always on untouched snow, and even two or three days if there are fresh snow falls and not many people.”
Here, forest skiing is mainly in the forest of Mont Blanc, under the chairlift of the same name. It is the ideal sector for intermediate skiers or beginners who want to discover the sensation of skiing among the trees. The slight drawback is that this forest is quite flat, with some long sections with no slope. If you prefer more of a gradient, you can go up to the area around Les Deux Têtes, where there are much steeper slopes to be found on the summit. Here, as in the Villaroger sector, there are quite a few stones and stumps, so there needs to be a good fifty centimetres of well-packed snow, otherwise the skis can get scraped.
This area is the opposite of Arc 1600 in that the higher part is less steep with the slope becoming more accentuated further down. The lower sections are also less open, so it can become a bit of a free-for-all. But as in Villaroger or Arc 1600, the skiing is fun, with quite a few stumps or bits of wood left behind which, when covered with snow make for some good obstacles to jump.
Domaine skiable : 4390 hectares in total, of which 515 are marked pistes, 2065 off-piste, 520 rock bars/talus and 1300 hectares of forest.
Type of trees : larch and fir. There are also a lot of Swiss pines (also called Arollas) all across Arc 1950 and Arc 2000.
Note : there is a protected area (the Hauts de Villaroger natural reserve) in which skiing is prohibited, except for two corridors accessed from the Grand Col and the summit of the Aiguille Rouge, where you can ski as long as you are accompanied by a professional. Otherwise, it is possible to obtain an authorisation permit issued by the forest rangers, following a 2-hour training course led by the rangers themselves indoors. Registration required.
Text from Ski Magazine, HS 2013
Les Arcs – Paradiski (1200m – 3226m) – “Large elevation gain” station
The Aiguille Rouge cable-car takes passengers to the peak of the same name, where there is a black run followed by a red run leading down to Villaroger, 2026 m further below. This has got to be one of the best runs served by ski lifts in the world, especially as the rotations can be quick, too quick even. Other off-piste options also allow skiers to explore the natural reserve of the Hauts de Villaroger on the east-facing slope of Aiguille Rouge and the Grand Col, as long as certain regulations are respected. There are only two passages open to skiers, but they provide access to top-class routes such as the corridors of the Équipe, Genepy and the S-shaped corridor. The first bends of the latter are sharp (40/45°), then the corridor widens before opening out onto immense slopes overlooking the valley of the Grand Col and the end of the descent into Planey de Villaroger.
The Paradiski area offers another wide descent above the resort of La Plagne: from the Bellecôte glacier at 3 250 m, a lovely series of runs enables skiers to reach Montchavin-Les-Coches (1 950 m) lower down. It starts with the red run from La Combe, then the new black run from Le Dérochoir and finally the blue Route des Bauches. Watch out however, as doing Aiguille Rouge and Bellecôte in one day is not only expensive, crossing from one ski area to the next is long and complicated, so choose your side and stick to it!
Extrait Ski Magazine, HS 2013
Tignes – Val d’isère (1550m – 3450m) – “Large elevation gain” station
The 1 900 metres mentioned are only a theoretical altitude difference, as in fact it is almost impossible to do the whole descent without taking a lift. But as Guerlain Chicherit himself has put together a route leaving from the summit and finishing at the bottom we would be foolish not to follow it as this former freeriding world champion should know what he’s talking about. For him, the best line is directly in the north face of the Grande Motte, among the crevasses, to the slope beneath the lip of the glacier which enables you to reach the bottom of Les Lanches without really going onto the runs. The slope and the crevasses are such that you may wish to take a guide. As a bonus, the last section includes the area where the X-Games are held, but don’t get too excited, you won’t be able to try out any of the stratospheric modules. Once back at Val Claret at 2 100 metres, having descended 1 350 metres, Guerlain suggests taking the Tufs chairlift to go back up to 2700 m. From there, the Tufs corridors or Les Trolles run take you to the lake where the Chaudannes chairlift will carry you in four minutes to 2 500 m for a final descent to Les Brévières, the lowest point of the Espace Killy at 1 550 m. With this last descent, either along the winding run or through the forest, you will have finished with a total elevation loss of 2 900 m.
The large Espace Killy ski area offers a number of other options. One good way of enjoying the fresh slopes away from the crowds is to do it in the morning, before everyone else. The resort offers this possibility with “Fresh Tracks” sessions, on Mondays and Wednesdays: a descent of the “Double M”, from the Grande Motte down to the resort, before the runs are open to the public, with the blessing of the piste groomers!
Text from Ski Magazine, HS 2013