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Powder Hunters: The best ski resorts across the world

 

So you think you’re pretty good on the white stuff? Here are the Northern Hemisphere resorts that’ll test your nerve and sort the piste poncers from the powder shredders

FRANCE

Chamonix
The place to earn a black belt in freeriding, Chamonix is a must-try for anybody wanting to push themselves. Famous for it’s steep, deep and high terrain, it’s home to both aggressive and ice-prone blacks as well as bucket loads of long off-piste thrills. You’ll need a guide to make the best of it and less confident intermediates will wish they had chosen a beach holiday instead.

Stay: Chamonix sprawls along the valley floor under the imposing gaze of Mont Blanc. It has five main ski areas so wherever you choose to stay you’re likely to get know the free bus service pretty well. For off slope pampering, Relais et Châteaux’s Hameau Albert is hard to beat.
Eat: Restaurant L’Impossible for incredible food made with organic and locally sourced produce.
Travel time:
A two-hour drive from Geneva airport.
Snow reliability:
 4/5
Apr
ès ski : 4/5

La Grave
Famous amongst the old school ski set, La Grave is a small village with just one main lift that accesses the rough and wild off-piste. It’s an expert’s playground with menacing couloirs and long, savage itineraries (pistes that aren’t marked, maintained or patrolled), so hiring an experienced guide is essential. The drawback is that unpredictable weather can close lifts quickly so it might be better to base yourself at the linked resort of Les Deux Alpes and head over to La Grave on clear days.

Stay:
No spectacular hotels in La Grave, but Edelweiss is a good three star. If you’re staying in Les Deux Alpes opt for full-board at Chalet Michelle.
Eat: Le P’tit Polyte in Les Deux Alpes for traditional, regional dishes and cured meats.
Travel time:
A two-hour drive from Grenoble airport and three and a half hours from Geneva.
Snow reliability:
4/5
Apr
ès ski : 1/5

SWITZERLAND

Verbier
Home to the final stage of the Swatch Freeride World Tour, Verbier has earned cult status for off-piste line hunters. Aside from the infamously gnarly Bec de Rosses, it also offers access to a massive 410km of mogul fields, powder and itineraries (pistes that aren’t marked, maintained or patrolled). Speed addicts can test their nerves on the Piste de l’Ours, a World Cup run.

Stay: Modern and minimalist Hotel Nevaï.
Eat:
For a traditional Swiss fondue try Le Namasté.
Travel time:
A two-hour drive from Geneva.
Snow reliability:
 3/5
Apr
ès ski : 4/5

Andermatt
Well known, but often forgotten, Andermatt is underrated and overlooked. Its large north-facing bowl offers great snow and some steep and challenging runs. The resort has lots of little off-piste shoots to explore, which you can brave without a guide if the weather is clear. It’s also a good starting point for anyone making their first turns off-piste. Plus it’s only a 90-minute drive from Zurich so you can touch down in the morning and be out on the slopes before lunch.

Stay & eat: At boutique hotel The River House.
Travel time:
A two-hour drive from Geneva and an hour and a half from Zurich.
Snow reliability:
4/5
Apr
ès ski : 2/5

AUSTRIA

St Anton
St Anton is one of the few expert resorts that also suits adventurous intermediates. Pros can hire a guide and spend an entire week exploring deep powder bowls and steep cliff lines in stunning Alpine scenery; while intermediates can test themselves on the bumps and steep downhill runs from the top to the town. Of course, St Anton is also famous for its many bars offering ski-booted tabletop dancing that starts at 3pm and doesn’t stop till 3am.

Stay: Luxury Scott Dunn property Chalet Artemis.
Drink:
The Krazy Kangurah.
Travel time:
A one-hour drive from Innsbruck or a two-hour and 45-minute drive from Zurich.
Snow reliability:
 4/5
Apr
ès ski : 5/5

NORTH AMERICA

Alta, Utah, USA
One of the snowiest resorts on the planet, Alta had over 18 metres of snow last year – that’s triple the amount of some of Europe’s resorts. After a big dump, experts head to Alta’s high ridges and chutes for hours of steep and deep fun. Snowboarding is still banned here but boarders will find plenty to keep them entertained at the linked resort of Snowbird.

Stay: Alta’s Rustler Lodge
Eat:
Nowhere to shout about.
Travel time:
A forty-five minute drive from Salt Lake International Airport.
Snow reliability:
5/5
Apr
ès ski : 1/5

Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada
Despite being a young resort (major lift access was only added in 2006), it has over 208,413 hectares of ungroomed powder fields and one of the biggest verticals in North America. It offers heli, cat, backcountry and lift skiing all from one base with plenty of tree-lined runs. If you have deep pockets you can have first tracks each day on every run, and you’ll have the modern comforts of a resort base.

Stay: The Sutton Place Hotel
Eat:
Kuwakubo for good quality sushi.
Travel time:
A five-hour drive from Calgary Airport and a six-and-a-half-hour drive from Vancouver Airport.
Snow reliability:
 5/5
Apr
ès ski : 2/5

Hokkaido, Japan
Japan’s north island offers serious bragging rights for powder hunters, and Niseko is its most famous resort for deep and deeper runs all season long. It’s not as challenging as the other resorts on these pages and true experts might want to consider driving on to Rusutsu for slightly more difficult terrain. Furano, another north island resort, has hosted World Cup events so it offers longer verticals and you can also hire guides here for off-piste exploration. 

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