Off piste skiing is one of the most exhilarating mountain activities on offer. Whether it’s weaving in and out of tall pine trees or bombing down the powder with a pair of skis akin to surfboards it doesn’t get much better. There is a distinct beauty in these tranquil areas, that seem untouched by anything apart from the local wildlife.
If you’ve been living in an igloo and don’t know, off piste skiing is the art of skiing on areas that have not been designated as runs. This means they aren’t groomed by machines and so are all natural. Some of the coolest moments on the slopes can be had with snow spraying behind you and no one in front of you.. Off piste skiing isn’t without its dangers, but if done safely it is an amazing adrenaline rush that shouldn’t be missed. Hiring a guide can improve the experience by taking you to some of the more ‘exclusive’ spots. So to aid you the next time you need to make a decision on where you’re going for your ski holiday we’ve provided a collection of the best ski resorts around.
A Resort of Olympic Standards
Located in British Columbia, not only does Whistler have some of the most insane off piste runs on the continent it also has many great restaurants and bars in the large village below. You may remember Whistler as host to the 2010 winter Olympics. There is a great variety of slopes that make for many enjoyable rides. Vancouver, one of Canada’s most amazing cities, is within driving distance if you need a break from the mountain lifestyle. You can even enjoy the Whistler film festival over five days starting on the first week in December. If you want to see the greatest Whistler has to offer then it is a good idea to hire a guide. Once you’ve conquered what the slopes have to offer, you may wish to ramp up the excitement and try heli-skiing which is very popular in the region. The British Columbia is the most popular area for heli-skiing in the world. When on a helicopter you can gain access to some of the best areas that Whistler has to offer.
Sushi & Skiing
This resort is a bit further east than the others on the list but it is a amazing resort for those who don’t mind paying a bit more. Niseko has some of the most amazing views of any ski resort in the world. Skiing through some of the deepest snow in the world is an amazing experience for any off piste enthusiast. The steam baths are an amazing way to relax after a hard days ski. However if you think you are up for it you can enjoy night skiing. Some runs in Niseko are lit up at night and the lifts are active until 9pm. You can gain a truly different perspective at night and it shouldn’t be missed.. The food is fantastic and the locals are friendly. Also if there are not enough activities in Niseko then you can take seven minute drive to Kutchan which is a slightly more urbanised environment.
Switzerland is well renowned for its ski heritage and Andermatt is no different. Andermatt is a very scenic town that looks like a typical Swiss village. Not only will you enjoy the great off piste runs but Andermatt also offers a variety of delicious Swiss cuisine such as fondue, rosti and traditional meats and cheeses. This great rural mountain food really gets you in the spirit of the Swiss culture and it’s perfect ski fuel. The powder here is amazing and easy to reach via cable cars. The resort is also being improved as new facilities are being built, such as new hotels and golf courses. The runs are all fairly peaceful and you will be carving your own fresh tracks. The highlight of the resort is the Gemsstock. This fantastic summit has plenty of enjoyable off piste runs ranging from beginner to intermediate.
This is a resort slightly closer to home that offers one of the greatest off piste experiences in the whole of France. With a huge variety of different pistes and some amazing expanses of powder. The resort also has a great snow park, sponsored by Salomon, if you fancy testing out your freestyle skills. Chamonix used to have problems with large queues, however they have drastically improved the lift system meaning you won’t have to wait long to get back to the top. Chamonix has a great town with a fun après ski scene. With a variety of enjoyable activities including a 10 pin bowling alley and a three screen cinema so you won’t just be thinking about getting back to the slopes. Chamonix has some incredible views of mountain summits including Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe.
Sweet Slopes & Brilliant Bars
ST ANTON, AUSTRIA
If you want to ski hard and party hard then St Anton is the place for you. The village can be expensive but the après ski is great. The runs are long and expansive and the powder is great. If you want to experience the best this resort has to offer then you should definitely consider hiring a guide, so you can safely traverse some of the coolest runs in Austria. A big draw of St Anton is the bars, with a large variety you are sure to find somewhere that appeals to you. Keep in mind these slopes don’t suit beginners so if you aren’t a very confident skier you may want to consider somewhere else. However if you have some experience in skiing and want to experience a great nightlife then this is one to consider.