Freeriding, terrain parks and pistes
in Val d'Illiez
For those looking to make their first forays off-piste Champoussin may provide a few friendly options. Nothing too steep, with off-piste between runs and lifts. Being relatively quiet, the pockets of fresh hang around that little bit longer. Just remember that you're contending with drag lifts, and depending on where you're staying, access to Champoussin isn't great. Maybe worth considering a few days after a snowfall.
For the more adventurous and willing to hike, the Point d l'Au peak accessed by the currently-closed Point de l'Au chair is likely to provide you with fresh lines. With the chair being closed the only way to the top is to walk, and thus there are very few who make the effort. There are many ways down from this peak; the face under the chair is wide, steep, and long enough to be worth while. The best route to the top is from the top of Aiguille des Champeys. Make sure you know what you're doing in terms of avalanche safety.
Les Crosets has some interesting options within easy reach of the chairs/pistes. Perhaps the best can be found under the Mossette-Suisse chair. From the top of the lift you turn back on yourself, to the left, and you have direct access to the face under the chair. It's wide, steep enough at the top to be fast with one or two rocks to drop if you're looking for air. The run out is straight forward, leading directly onto slopes.
Also look to drop off at different points along the ridge as you take the blue run from the top of the Mossette chair toward Champoussin. Again the run-out is easy so you can score decent powder with minimal effort.
The SuperPark in Les Crosets, is big. There are one or two smaller hits, but that's it. For the most part, you need to know what you're doing. Big kickers, hips, boxes and rails. The park is well maintained and serviced by a fast, 8 man chairlift, so taking laps shouldn't be difficult. If you're looking for more beginner/intermediate level parks, Avoriaz has the best to offer, although there is a small park in Champoussin, it's just not that easy to get to and not that good.
If jibbing around the piste is your thing, you won't find many natural hits on the slopes of Champoussin, Les Crosets or Champery.
Riders who know what's what will have licked the Champoussin area within a day. Too many drags, not enough good runs, and getting there from Les Crosets is a real chore. Les Crosets on the other hand has some really nice reds. Those running down from the top of the Mossette chairs are as fast as you'd like. Get there in the morning while there's still fresh groom and you're in for a treat.
Although it's probably classed as Champery, if you're in this area, avoid the long, Grd Paradis red that starts at the top of Point de Ripalle. Sure it looks good from the top, but once it dips behind the ridge it's trail all the way, and you're walking, guaranteed.
There is night boarding in Les Crosets on Wednesdays until 9.30 pm and Saturdays until 7.00 pm, which all but a day pass includes. The park is not open on these nights. The chailifts Planachaux, Crosets 2 and the dragging lift Grand Conche and their runs are open and lit.
Although Champoussin has quiet, easy slopes, it also has a lot of drag lifts, which will put beginners off. Les Crosets has more chairs with some ok blues. Champery, which is difficult to seperate from Les Crosets as far as the slopes go, has a nice, wide blue area that's serviced by the new and fast Grand Paradis 2 chair. Not a bad bet.READ NEXT: Village life, accommodation & nightlife
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