Top Ten Unheralded Extreme Ski Slopes
Host of the 1994 Winter Olympics, Val d'Isère is one of Europe's premier resorts (unless, of course, you prefer skiing with A- and B-list British royalty in Klosters). Twinned with Tignes, Val d'Isère serves skiers and boarders well, has some blood-curdling beyond-black runs, and enjoys nightlife that will have you aching for the homeward-bound party train for a well-earned rest.
The opening venue for the European downhill season, the Face Bellevarde is one of the world's trophy runs that, while not the most difficult, begs to be bagged. Extreme skier Dan Egan calls the couloir, not far from the 1994 Olympic downhill course, a "classic European chute—long, narrow, and steep." In other words, longer than 2,000 feet, not much wider than your garage door, and steeper than 45 degrees. Bellevarde is accessible either via the funicular, the "Funival" from La Daille, or the main cable car running from the town of Val d'Isère.
The resort is nestled in France's mideast flank, a stone's throw from Switzerland to the north and Italy further eastwards. This is a big resort with a big infrastructure to match—it can be intimidating if you're used to something a little more intimate. Located in the nape of a dead-end valley, Val can feel somewhat claustrophobic for the uninitiated. However, even though it's not the most user-friendly resort, let's not forget those demon steeps and that relentless partying.
2004-05 lift pass: €39
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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