Morzine for Advanced Skiers and Snowboarders
In previous blogs we have talked about how staying in Morzine is great for families and beginners. But what about those of you that are beyond snow ploughing and the falling leaf? Well, Morzine has plenty for advanced skiers and snowboarders too.
Morzine is located in the heart of the Portes du Soleil, which is 13 resorts connected by 650km of piste straddling the French/Swiss border. It is about 1 hour 20 minutes from Geneva airport, so it is really easy to get to. This means that Morzine is ideal for that emergency snow fix if you are the type of person that can drop everything when the powder comes
Morzine is probably better known as a family resort, but with all this terrain, there is a huge amount for advanced skiers and snowboarders to enjoy. So grab a piste map and have a look through this blog to get a good idea on where to go.
Whether you are on piste or off-piste, you need to ski or board within your capabilities and knowledge, as both have their own dangers.
Be aware that off-piste is anywhere outside of the marked areas. So going beyond the piste markers, or skiing between pistes, means you are off-piste and in an unsecured area without avalanche control.
While skiing off-piste is great fun, you need to take responsibility for your own safety. Just because you are ‘just off the side’ it doesn't mean you are safe as you are still in an unsecured and unpatrolled area.
Every winter we like to go on courses to refresh our knowledge of off-piste safety. The only way you are going to know about this stuff is from the experts. On recent courses with Avoriaz Alpine Ski School we have learned about:
- Slope angle
- Avalanche danger
- Recent avalanche activity
- Terrain traps
- Islands of safety
- Human factors
- Route planning
These courses are actually really good fun. The instructors will show you some great secret powder runs, while teaching you how to be safe. This includes helping you to make educated decisions and the techniques for finding and rescuing buried people.
Most of the ski schools in Morzine will offer off-piste guiding or skills training. If you have time, or come back to Morzine each winter, it is good to mix it up a bit by trying different schools. This gives you a broader knowledge base, as different instructors have different experiences and techniques.
Get in touch with one of the schools below before you arrive in Morzine so you don’t miss out. They are all highly qualified and very experienced.
- Avoriaz Ski School
- REAL Snowboarding
- MINT Snowboarding
- British Alpine Ski School (BASS)
- Freedom 2 Ski
- New Generation
Remember those days when your hire equipment was cheap, battered, with blunt edges and no wax? Well those days are gone. Our recommended supplier for hire equipment, Doorstep Skis have an excellent range of well maintained Performance skis and snowboards.
Whether you are a park rat, like bombing groomers or hitting the backcountry, Doorstep have a great choice of high end skis and snowboards for you.
For a great blast on the Morzine side of the valley head to the Aigle Rouge run from the Pointe de Nyon. You can pick up quite a lot of speed on this narrow and twisty red run. Adding the mogul rich Aigle noir run to this route brings you to the Plateau de Nyon. Alternatively, you continue on the red theme with La Combe, which brings you to the same place.
The most accessible advanced runs in Morzine are serviced by the Pleney bubble and the Atray chair lift. There is a black (Olympique) and a couple of reds (Hermine and Abeille) which you can keep lapping to see how fast you can get.
If skiing all day isn't enough for you, the Le Stade section is floodlit on Thursday nights for night skiing. This is when the piste is very icy and fast, so you might want to visit Coq and Bull to get your edges sharpened first.
When there has been a good snowfall in Morzine there are some really accessible off-piste runs to be had too. Get up early and head for the Fys and Atray lifts. Ducking in and out of the trees on the edges of the red runs is great fun. All you need to do is follow the lifts from top to bottom.
Once those areas are tracked out, go to Nyon or Chamossiere. These are the highest peaks on the Pleney side of the valley. We like to take advantage of the bits in between the pisted runs. Cutting the corners off in the right conditions can result in some great powder turns. Just don't head through the trees on your right unless you have a parachute!
Heading left and traversing away from the first turn of the Aigle rouge piste takes you to a weather station. From here you can get all the way down to the Chamossiere valley. You really need to be aware of the conditions here, as it is very prone to avalanches. There are a few gas cannons used for avalanche control up there too, so be careful.
Remember to take your avalanche equipment (and know how to use it). If you’re unsure at all or want to really find all the good spots, get in touch with one of the schools mentioned earlier in this blog and book a guide for the morning or full day.
Les Gets has some great pistes for advanced skiers and snowboarders. The Chavannes bowl on the main side of the valley has a couple of good blacks, the Yeti and Myrtilles. These are serviced by the La Rosta and the Grains D'Or chairlifts. These steep runs are good fun, especially after an overnight snowfall. They tend to get very moguly later in the day, but this just adds to a fun technical run, especially for skiers.
For a proper long charge, head to the Melezes red run to the bottom of the Perrieres Express lift. It is a long wide run where you can get some great speed up. There are a few rollers on the way down that you can get some nice air off if it isn't too busy. Y
Mont Chery is the mountain opposite the main area where the Chevannes lift is in Les Gets. It tends to be a bit quieter than most places, possibly because it takes a bit longer to get there and it is a less obvious place to go. There are not a huge amount of runs, but they are very good for the more advanced skier and snowboarder.
The back side of Mont Chery has two routes, a red and a black. They are in the shade for most of the day, so they get very icy. The black (Chery Nord) gets lots of moguls and is a real workout! However there is an excellent restaurant at the bottom, La Chanterelle. It is best to book in advance and pre-order your food.
There is an abundance of challenging runs in Avoriaz. For example you can head to the top of the Fornet and Les Choucas chairlifts, where there are a number of reds to choose from. I wouldn't say they are particularly technical, but you can get some great speed up.
If you are in the mood for a long black run, the Grandes Combes lift is a good place to go. There are three black runs, two pisted and one un-pisted running all the way from the Arare area to the bottom of the Prodains lift. These are wide, long and fast early in the day and can get a bit choppy later on.
The Swiss Wall
Of course we can't write a blog about advanced pistes in Avoriaz without mentioning the Swiss wall. Known locally as the Mur Suisse or Le Pas de Chavanette, this is a very steep un-pisted black run from Avoriaz into Les Crosets in Switzerland.
If you can get there before everyone else after a big dump of snow, you can have an amazing powder run. However the rest of the time it is a huge mogul field. The first 50 metres are the most technical, this is because it can get quite narrow between the Volkswagen sized moguls.
This first section is about 40 degrees, but does get shallower as you descend. If you are with someone who doesn't want to tackle "the wall", they can ride the lift down and take some aerial photos of you!
From the top of the Les Combes chair, you can have a great blast from the Tete de Linga to Chatel. This long red run is fairly steep and fast. It is in the shade for quite a lot of the day, meaning the snow can be quite hard packed and icy. However this does mean it stays pretty smooth, making it ideal for fast carving all the way down. As is the case with most pistes, the snow is softer at the sides and much better for holding that edge. When you get to the bottom, have a hot chocolate and do it again.
Snow Cross Zones
The Snow Cross zones are dedicated Free Ride areas around Avoriaz. Les Crozats, La Frontaliere, Les Brochaux and La Marmotte are patrolled but unpisted areas, ideal to head to after a big dump of snow. The idea is for skiers and snowboarders to get the off-piste experience in a relatively safe environment. They are well worth a visit when the conditions are right, but I would still treat them with respect. This means taking avalanche kits and the knowledge on how to use them.
Touring and Splitboarding
We love a bit of splitboarding at More Mountain. As you can see from the above video, it is pretty rewarding.
The Portes Du Soleil has lots of routes for those who like to go hunting for their powder. The Col de Cou and Chesery are just two examples. But to find more, either book a guide or check out the Chablais Toponeige book. This little book is packed full of great touring routes. It gives you the technical details, difficulty ratings and even some photos about the best lines.
But what if you want to spend some time in the air? There are 11 snowparks and 4 boardercross tracks throughout the resorts of the Portes du Soleil including the popular Chapelle Park in Avoriaz and the legendary Stash.
Chapelle Park Located at the top of the Proclou chairlift, it has lots of jumps of varying difficulty and size. There are a few jib lines with rails, boxes and whatever they decide to introduce during a winter.
The Stash Serviced by the Prolays chairlift, The Stash is a snow park full of wooden features through the forest above Lindarets. There are jumps, log slides and obstacles to have fun with through lots of different routes.
No matter how good or advanced you are, you can always benefit from a lesson or two. Instructors will be able to get you doing things you have only ever dreamed of. They will build your confidence while giving you the necessary skills to hit those jumps or rails. Even a two hour lesson can help you achieve your goals with an instructor giving you things to practice during your stay.
Keep an eye out for week-long camps running throughout the season which give you a great way to work on all your skiing and snowboarding skills.
So there you have it. Morzine isn't just for kiddies and beginners, and to be honest we haven't even scratched the surface. So, what are you waiting for? We’ll see you on the slopes!