Val d'Isère Riding
The connection from Val d'Isère to Tignes is worth the ride. Go up the Fornet, the only car available on stormy days that has a sheltered run. There are some radical gullies to the left of the car path, and the wooded areas below provide great entertainment. Continue ascending to the beautiful Pissaillas glacier, which is open year-round, and try out the Col Pers, which starts with a traverse from the top chairlift on the glacier. The area then opens up into a wide bowl with endless variations. At the bottom, at the source of the Isère River, cut into the narrow Gorges de Malpasset and eventually the run arrives back at the cable car. Go left off the Solaise Express and head down Les Danaides, another sheltered valley that often harbors great snow.
La Daille has the longest, and one of the best, runs, if there has been no fresh snow. The gradient is perfect, with a great variety of jaunts into trees and banks, plus hits and rollers.
Under the Rocher de Bellevarde, there are cliffs and steep, hair-raising chutes. Be wary of the cliffs directly at the top—the further you go to the right, the better.
At the top of the Mont Blanc chair, there is a double bowl with a wicked jump. Other notables are the Col de la Madeline, the Banane, Spatule, Cairn Col Pers, Marmottons, and Cugnai.
The half-pipe is located at the bottom of the Santel Express chairlift and is generally in good condition during January and February (due to the cold and snowfall). After that, it seems to lose shape, mainly due to lack of maintenance. The 3,500—square-meter (11,483-square-foot) fun-park is located at La Daille, near the bottom of the Funival train. It consists of fun boxes, hits, quarter-pipes, small gaps, and a radical tabletop. The locals are excellent boarders and service the park constantly.
The OK piste at La Daille has high-speed carving from top to bottom. Also try out the higher glacial areas for long prepared pistes. The run over to Tignes has a great gradient with a multitude of pistes and treacherous moguls.
The Nitty Gritty
Mountain chain: Alps
Vertical meter range: 1,550—3,500 m (5,085—11,483 ft)
Length of season: Beginning of December—last week in April
Number of lifts: Two mountain railways, four cable cars, six gondolas, 49 chairlifts, 41 drag-lifts
Snow-making facilities: 200 snow cannons cover 24 km (15 mi) of pistes, when needed.
Safety: Listen to the latest weather conditions and avalanche information from the piste patrol or Radio Val, frequency 96.1 FM. Strictly adhere to all signposts.
Guides: Contact the Mountain Guides Office for more details (Tel: 7906 0234).
Lift pass alternatives: If you purchase a pass valid for one day or more, it can be used for one day in either La Plagne or Les Arcs. If it is valid for six days or more, the pass can be used for one day in each of Les Trois Vallées, Pralognan-la-Vanoise, Les Saisies, and Valmorel.
Lifts to avoid: On windy days, riding the chairlifts can give you frostbite, as Val d'Isère is an open-ended valley, which acts as a wind tunnel and is extremely exposed.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication