There’s still time to book a last minute ski flight with Jet2.com – the question is where to go? Here, the team from The Ski Club of Great Britain give their low-down on the resorts for best late season skiing.
The Vallée Blanche, above the year round popular resort of Chamonix, is at its best in the spring. Head up the Aiguille du Midi with a mountain guide (a must for this terrain) and enjoy over 24km of descent and the most stunning views. Or take the cable cars up above Argentiere to the north facing Grands Montets where freeriding starts from 3275m. You can even heli ski on the Italian side of Mont Blanc (above Courmayeur) which is the ultimate late season skiing or snowboarding treat. The many bars and cafes in Chamonix town are the perfect place to relax in spring sunshine after a great day on snow.
Just a couple of hours from Geneva, Verbier, Switzerland is a great choice for catching some last turns of winter and enjoying some fun après ski at the same time. At Mont-Fort you can ski from 3330m on the glacier and the resorts good snowmaking usually keeps the pistes going all the way down the winding path to the bottom of Médran, just above the town centre.
Mont-Gelé from 3025m also offers amazing freeriding when the late season snow falls, which it often does there. Ski Club groups have skied powder in Verbier in April many times! When skiing has finished there are enough bars and clubs to really tire you out if the skiing doesn’t!
The highest resort in Europe is a good bet for early and late season skiing. With direct access to Les Trois Vallées ski area, Val Thorens is a cheaper alternative to its neighbours. It’s a lively place with great nightlife and excellent skiing. This season will see the introduction of a new gondola that will open up even more terrain in this already enormous area (as if the world’s largest ski domain wasn’t big enough already!). Those that like to party in the spring sunshine should stop by the Folie Douce after 3pm for pumping tunes, toffee vodka and ski boot dancing on tables – it’s a sight to behold!
High altitude and high adrenaline, Tignes is the serious snow enthusiast’s playground. Tignes shares the Espace Killy with nearby Val d'Isère, so wherever you're staying you'll have access to a whopping 320km of trails. Unlike a lot of French ski areas, the resort is open year round, with visitors coming to mix glacier skiing with afternoons on the shore of the lake.
The Winter X Games returns to Tignes on 14 March 2012 bringing 150 international athletes for three days of competition across 8 disciplines – including Super Pipe and Slopestyle. The Ski Club’s Tignes Dual Slalom will also return on the 4th April – expect riotous fun, fancy dress and, of course, some ski racing!
La Plagne with its extensive, uncrowded pistes, high altitude riding (the Bellecotte glacier offers slopes from 3250m) and access to the Paradiski area has a huge amount going for it – especially in the spring sunshine! La Plagne forms part of the massive Paradiski ski area. Beginners and intermediates will love the gentle local runs while experts can skip over to Les Arcs for more challenging terrain.
What makes the resort (there are 10 linked villages in all) truly great is the relative quietness of its slopes compared to Les Arcs and the other big boys.
Located in Les Grandes Rousses, Alpe d'Huez has long been popular with the French for its breathtaking scenery, alleged 360 days of sunshine per year and huge ski terrain. It’s here you’ll find the longest pistes in the Alps – the 16km-long Sarenne from the top of the Pic Blanc glacier at 3330m - and one of Europe’s largest area of nursery slopes. Choose one of the north facing satellite villages such as Vaujany for a more attractive base and find their well kept pistes with great snowmaking all the way to the village. The high altitude, great sun record and considerable value outweigh the somewhat unattractive blockish buildings of the main town. Beware of goggle marks and ensure excessive use of suncream!
At 1740m Obertauern, just an hour from Salzburg, is one of the higher purpose built Austrian villages and offers much better snow reliability than many of its lower lying neighbours. Snowmaking also covers 90% of the pistes so a great place to choose to ski later in the season. You can also easily take a day trip to Salzburg to combine some culture with your sport.
Home of Mozart, Salzburg is bustling with atmosphere year round. Typical of Austria, in Obertauern the après ski at the end of the ski day is fun at the base of the slopes and then most people head into one of the many hotels for a late dinner.
With skiing up on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier (3030m), Kaprun is a great choice for late season skiing. The glacier has a wide choice of slopes for beginners and intermediates and back down in the village there are some really lively bars to après-ski in. Down the road and linked by a regular bus service is the resort of Zell am See, together they are part of the Europa Sport area. Zell has its own ski area if the snow is still plentiful with great tree lined runs. The medieval village centre, with excellent local markets, sits on the edge of the lake with many popular lakeside hotels and bars. In late spring the lake side beach parties are brilliant fun after an early finish on snow.
Stubai is a little further from Salzburg but worth the drive for the high altitude glacier skiing on the huge Stubai Glacier, from 3200m to 2300m. A 13km run from the top to the base is open when conditions allow but otherwise the network of fast lifts on the glacier, intermediate terrain and excellent beginners area make the visit to this part of Austria, in the Tirol, worthwhile. There is even ice climbing up there! There are plenty of pretty villages in the Stubai Valley below the glacier, the closest of which is Neustift and these offer the traditional side to Austria, with folk bands, lively bars and welcoming hotels. A spring snowsports holiday here would be a great choice.