Freeriding, terrain parks and pistes
in Les Deux Alpes
Freeriders: While skiers with poor imagination brand it a motorway resort, the same is not true for boarders. When there is a fresh dump, you can ride almost everywhere you can see - the off-piste is huge and challenging.
The only terrain missing is that of trees, but with a free day on the lift pass in nearby Serre Chevalier, tree-huggers should feel well catered for. Check out the Dome for a powdergasm, and routes off the 6-man chair, La Fee, for steep, deep and testing riding. Theres some hardcore off-piste around the Clot de Chalance accessed from the Serre Pallas run but you need to have a guide to show you the routes.
From the bottom of the Super Diable you can head left out of the area for some cool riding and pick up the Diable piste much further down.
The resort of La Grave is connected via the Dôme de la Lauze ski tow, and its a renowned freeride wilderness. After a good dump of snow, the other side of the valley from the top of Pied Moutet provides some easy freeriding and tree shredding. Ask in the tourist information about the free off-piste chats and mini-tours.
Freestylers can pipe and park ride all year round. Winter sees the park located at the Toura area with an immaculate 120m earth-shaped halfpipe, loads of jumps and rails and two boardercross runs. The main boardercross sites underneath the lifts that run up from the restaurant. Its very freestyle-orientated, with plenty of jumps, a gap, some whoops, and some right banks, unfortunately it's also full off skiers stopping and clogging it up, making it tricky to really go for it.
Theres also beginners boardercross to the left of the chairlift. From the top of these chairs you access the halfpipe and theres a big kicker on the way to the pipe, as well as an advanced slopestyle run parallel to it on the other side of the ridge, featuring some large kickers and rails. Serviced by a short drag below the pipe are a number of beginner and intermediate jumps, rails and boxes. In summer, the Soreiller green run on the glacier becomes a big park with huge pro-jumps, a wide array of rails, 2 halfpipes and plenty of smaller kickers for mere mortals.
Pistes: This is an piste-lovers dream retreat, with nicely pisted runs like the Roch-Mantel and the Signal for a warm up. The glacier itself is great for ballistic speed. The Sandri run at the foot of the glacier to the mid-station is a warp factor 9, if you adhere to the essential turn only rule. So, for those of you who think turning is to admit defeat, tuck em away and go for it.
By the end of the day, things do get a bit clogged up on the way down with a couple of narrow flat paths bottle-necking everyone. The Valentine run to the base can be an absolute nightmare, as it's very steep and often sheet ice, although it can be a right laugh watching people sliding backwards, taking out others all the way down. You can take the windy narrow green run as an alternative, but if youre a beginner, dont lose your days' confidence - best take the gondola back instead.
Beginners starting out couldn't ask for a better place to make steady progress. The only problem is that the home runs down the front face are amongst the steepest in the resort, although there is a winding green run as an alternative. A real bonus is that the gentlest terrain is at the very top of the resort, where you will also find the best snow.
Due to the lift system layout, other than your first morning on the beginner's slope, you need never take a drag for the remainder of your stay. The chairlifts, gondolas and other lifts make the whole uplift problem easier to sort out than a Wonderbra, which should please the wimps.READ NEXT: Village life, accommodation & nightlife