Love Off-Piste Skiing? 25 Secret Off-piste Ski Locations In Europe
Looking for a Ski Resort with great Off-Piste Skiing for your Alpine Property Purchase? 25 Secret Off-piste Skiing Locations In Europe
Many factors drive a ski property purchase. For some buyers it’s a place to escape to from the pace of everyday life; for others a place to bring together the family, with activities for all ages to enjoy. And then there are those who simply want to be first in the lift queue when the snow has fallen and the slopes are track-free.
Ridestore Magazine have put together their 25 secret spots for finding freeriding in incredible, secluded and secret locations around Europe.
So what are you waiting for? Find the place that prioritises skiing above apres. Explore, discover, enjoy!
Secret Off-Piste Skiing Locations In The French Alps
La Mongie, also known as Grand Tourmalet Bareges, is a unique skiing haven in the Pyrenees and boasts the largest ski area in the region. More to the point it has specially dedicated off-piste sector called the Nouvelle Glisse, a supervised area on the three sides of Pic du Midi; Bareges, Artigues- Campen and Taoluet, where any off-piste thrill seeker has their pick of undisturbed fresh powder runs. No wonder “La Mongie is the paradise of freeriding”.
Any skier worth their salt has probably skied the Three Valleys in the French Alps. What you might not have done is venture over from Val Thorens to the the secret “Fourth Valley”. Orelle has the all highlights of the Three Valleys with a snow-sure altitude of 2,300m and the luxury of a long season from December to late May – and is of course part of the largest ski area in the world. One thing Orelle does not have is the crowds sometimes found in the rest of the Trois Vallees. Instead, enjoy the dedicated freeride area of the Maurienne valley with other (few!) like-minded extreme skiers.
Sainte Foy Tarentaise
Sainte Foy Tarentaise - aka St Foy - has "created a unique cosmos, offering an unprecedented mountain experience in which to enjoy pure sensations in a mind-blowing adventure playground…”. This “playground”, close to Tignes and Val d'Isere, above Bourg St Maurice in the Tarentaise valley, is lesser known because of its limited on-piste skiing (only 4 ski lifts at the last count). For those in the know, St Foy was once the home to the Free Ride World Tour Qualifiers and a place to develop your skills on marked but un-groomed black runs. The 3 free zones are easy to access so you can begin your day’s powder skiing early.
Pralognan La Vanoise
Nestled in the Savoie Valley in the Vanoise National Park, Pralognan-la-Vanoise - a few kilometres from Courchevel as the crow flies - is a destination to discover! The resort is well protected and preserved, thanks to its National Park status. On skis you are at one with nature as you wind through forests, spot waterfalls and possibly bump into a few alpine animals on the way. Alternatively get up high onto the glacier at Pointe de la Grande Casse, a whopping 3,855m of altitude with an off-piste descent of nearly 2,300m, down to the picture postcard village.
Invest in a new-build Chalet in Pralognan La Vanoise
La Grave calls itself the “free-ride village” and it is easy to see why. Apart from the singular marked piste on the glacier the rest of the area is unmarked and unpatrolled, a “real mountain experience”. Take the 30 minute cable car ride up to 3,200m and go play! La Grave encourages you to explore the untouched mountain and to create your own action-packed itinerary in the wild. Proceed with caution (or better still a guide) as it is not like any other resorts requiring a certain technical level, humility, responsibility, and respect for mother nature.
Le Grand Bornand
On paper, Le Grand Bornand in the Aravis mountain range in the Haute Savoie area of the Northern French Alps looks like a resort ideal for families and piste skiers. However the map does not do justice to the extensive back-country terrain available. If you fancy a challenge away from the pistes you will have easy access to the free- ride area of Mont Lachat de Chatillon and go off-grid at the far end of the Maroly Valley - and you can also tap into Candice Thovex's favourite mountain playground in nearby La Clusaz.
Secret Off-Piste Skiing Locations In The Italian Alps and Dolomites
In the Italian South Tyrolean Dolomites is the quaint area of Alta Badia, with its 3 Michelin-starred restaurants and 7 free-ride routes - what more could you ask for?! Start at the easily accessible and relaxed Prati de Camera and end your week carving down the vertiginous and narrow walls of the Valscura couloir a steep ascent and an abseil. Alta Badia is an unexpectedly advanced free ride destination, if you’re up to the challenge.
The Italian ski hamlet of Alagna sits in the Monterosa Ski area in the Aosta Valley. It has an indisputable reputation amongst the experienced skiers and boarders of the world- “Alagna is the free-ride paradise of the Monte Rosa”. Starting at 3,000m on glacier Indren you have access to an overwhelming array of patrolled off-piste routes to match your ability. Glide and carve through fluffy powder using the Andrea Gallo’s Pink Powder guide for safe but exciting route information and experience this “free-ride paradise” for yourself.
Arabba sits at the heart of the 1,000km Dolomiti Superski area in the Italian Dolomites. This alone makes Arabba a sought-after destination. The resort is one of the highest in Italy and the mostly north facing runs mean exceptional snow quality most of the season. The off-piste is easily accessible from the slopes and lifts requiring little hiking. Due to this Arabba can offer more untracked powder snow then available in other resorts.
“Freeride is synonymous with freedom”- So head to Pila to experience this unparalleled feeling of freedom. Pila is the small, easily accessible resort above the Italian town of Aosta, but not a resort to be judged by its size! Begin at the Couis 1 lift station and explore the descent of Platta de Grevon at 2,700m and dedicated to free-ride. Further down you can carve your way through the forests. Due to the immaculately groomed slopes of Pila, you will probably find you are one of a few seeking more difficult terrain.
Secret Off-Piste Skiing Locations In The Swiss Alps
Silvaplana (1,815m) with its ski resort Corvatsch (up to 3,303m) is in Switzerland’s famous Engadine valley, home also to the glitzy ski resort of St Moritz. The array of terrain gives skiers plenty to sink their teeth into, with cliff jumps, steep couloirs, wide powder fields and fabulous high altitude in a mostly north facing location.
Think of Bruson as Verbier’s younger and, dare we say, cuter sister, nestled in the forest on the other side of the hill from the more famous Swiss ski resorts. It is the place to beat the crowds, and find fresh tracks while everyone else heads for the faces of Mont Fort. A favourite with local freeriders and tourists alike, it is accessible by gondola lift from Verbier or Le Chable - you can enjoy the night life in one and the fresh tracks in the other.
As part of the 4 Valleys in Switzerland, Nendaz is often overshadowed by Verbier. However, it is increasingly popular with experienced freeride skiers due to the challenging backcountry terrain. Visually, Nendaz is quite a spectacle with large imposing mountains which have created an interesting experience for free riders. It’s a cheaper and quieter option to big sister Verbier.
Andermatt in the Swiss Alps is a chocolate box village with limited slopes but don’t be fooled by first impressions. The Gemstockk mountain at 3,000m can be accessed by cable car and from there you can descend some serious free ride action. The terrain is so varied that you will struggle to have time to do the same route twice. Some of the routes are well known for their short but steep 500m descents which will be sure to get your heart racing! Many of the areas are patrolled and guides are readily available for a safe but adrenaline fuelled trip. Even better for ski property buyers, Andermatt is not subject to the same property purchase restrictions as the rest of the Swiss Alps.
Secret Off-Piste Skiing Locations In The Austrian Alps
Warth Schroecken in Austria has been coined the “snowiest ski resort in the Alps” and a “freeride Eldorado on the Arlberg”, thanks to its north facing slopes which retain the pow! It is also the starting point of the Arlberg freeride safari, going on to Lech Zurs and St. Anton and the home of the Arlberg Northface 3. For any free rider this is one epic adventure to tick off your list.
Hochkoenig in the Austrian alps is, like most resorts in Austria, full of life, tradition and merriment, but it stands out for its difficult terrain making it a draw for advanced skiers and boarders. Most of the available free ride runs are through the pine forests above Maria Alm. There is the sense of true wilderness while making fresh tracks through the snow-covered trees and long descents, a different challenge to the usual sheer faces and exposed mountain ranges.
Gastein looks after freeriders and thrill seekers by encouraging riders to explore their terrain safely with guides by making daily updates available at the base lift station. From Sportgastein you can access backcountry from 2,700m and explore the famous wide and open faces. The mountain peaks around the Gastein valley are high and imposing. Take a car if you can as the mountain regions are disconnected.
Serfaus in the Austrian Alps follows the motto “feel free” and the freeride options reflect this, with access to 10 different freeride routes. To be challenged head to the tongue twister and thigh-killing Schleifplattenroute, a freeride route which at points has a 78% gradient!. Or take the scenic route through a pine forest. Whichever of the 10 routes you choose you are guaranteed to never have a dull moment.
Secret Off-Piste Ski Locations In Spain
For somewhere a little different, the lesser known mountains of the Pyrenees in Spain are another great freeride hotspot, without any reduction in the snow or freeride quality. The region of Baqueira is a popular thanks to the Aneto Peak, the highest mountain in the Spanish Peninsula; a spectacular scenery to rival the Alps. Have fun exploring the well-kept secrets of the Val d’Aran.
Secret Off-Piste Ski Locations In Germany
When you think of skiing in Germany small local resorts with limited snow depth and skiing action come to mind but the resort of Hochfelln in Bergen will change any preconceptions. The Freeride World Tour was one step ahead after founding one its 1* competition destinations. Once there, ask the locals for insiders’ tips, because who is better to know where the best backcountry is than those who have skied those mountains their whole lives.
Secret Off-Piste Skiing Locations In Slovakia
Jasna, in Slovakia, is said to be “one of the top freeride spots in Central Europe”. The two mountain ranges of the resort are now connected, opening up a whole new realm of freeride possibilities. The north side is steeper and more challenging and so attracts an advanced and experienced freerider, whilst the South side is wide open powder fields that spark the interest of those who are wanting to develop their off-piste skills. Jasna has been on the scene for the Freeride World Tour Qualifiers and is the venue for the CGC Jasna Adrenalin FWQ international competition.
Secret Off-Piste Ski Locations In Norway
The Norwegians have always been known to rock any freeride and backcountry spots. With resorts such as Roldal on their doorstep as a freeride haven to play on, it is no wonder. It is almost untouched territory for tourists therefore it is only ever considered ‘busy’ on the weekends when the locals flock. Unlike in the Alps, you could lay the first tracks without even trying, especially as 99% of this resort is off-piste. If you can hack the basic and old school life of a locals ski resorts you will be more than rewarded in having practically the whole mountain to yourself - bliss!
If you know skiing in Norway then you have probably heard of Trysil which is the country’s largest resort. What may be less known is that Trysil can also boast that it remains to be surrounded by unspoilt nature and achieved its sustainable tourism certification. For a freerider and backcountry lover this invites you to make the most of this unspoilt haven in a environmentally sustainable manner. Although the Scandinavian countries such as Norway have arctic climates in the winter months, despite of this they know how to enjoy and care for the natural beauty the great outdoors.
Secret Off-Piste Ski Locations In Iceland
Iceland is famous for its arctic conditions, the capital Reykjavik and the Northern lights but surprisingly the skiing and freeride is not why people primarily flock to this interesting country. As a freerider it is always important to be one ahead of the game to avoid the crowds and tracked up routes, so give Iceland’s Skardslur a try and be mesmerised by the unique terrain and culture.
Secret Off-Piste Ski Locations In Sweden
Riksgransen in Sweden allows you to experience the unique way of life of those who live in the Arctic Circle. The season is an unusually late start of February but doesn’t end until June, and from May onward the lifts operate with the midnight sun. The amount of snow in Riksgransen has been so monumental in the recent years that residents have had to move out, however this has then encouraged those seeking endless amounts of snow and thrill. Those in the know will head to Uffes Vag and Rimfors for their vastly unpisted slopes. To quote their website it says there are 29 pistes, 6 lifts and “a lot” of off-piste; simple but effective, SOLD!