We’d all rather be notching up kilometres on the mountain than shuffling through a lift queue. With a little clever planning it is actually possible to get first lifts and avoid crowds even at the busiest peak times. Here’s how…
Keep up with which lifts are open by checking the Edge LIVE pages on your mobile.
GET ON TRACK
Jump on the Eurostar Ski Train from London St Pancras on a Friday evening and you’ll be in Bourg Saint Maurice for 6.30am on Saturday, leaving just enough time to get to resort for first lifts. You also get to enjoy the quieter slopes and shorter queues of changeover day, while everyone else is travelling to and from the airport. And you’ll have reduced your carbon footprint by up to 90% compared to travelling by plane. Everyone’s a winner.
For availability and booking information visit eurostar.com
SAVE TIME ONLINE
Gone are the days of queuing to buy your lift pass. They can now be pre-ordered through resort websites so you skip the queue to collect on arrival.
Better still, get your pass posted out pre-holiday so you can swan straight onto the lifts. Online orders with STGM, STVI and Paradiski take up to 16 days for delivery to the UK. If your trip is more last minute try arranging for your pass to be delivered to your accommodation – it’s a maximum 8-day delivery within France.
GO YOUR OWN WAY
Avoid peak time queues at the major lifts by taking alternative runs and routes. Here are some great queue-jumpers we’ve scoped out in the largest resorts.
- – To avoid the ski school crowds at the Toviere and Palafour gondolas in Le Lac, head to nearby Lavachet for the less well-used Paquis or Chaudannes lifts. Get the bus there, or ski over the bridge to the right of the Maison de Tignes.
- – Try the Paquis chairlift instead of the Toviere bubble if you’re skiing to Val d’Isere. It takes you over the Trolles, from where you can ski down Crocus to the under-used Combe Folle drag. Then descend the blue Violettes into the valley beneath the Tommeuses chairlift.
- – You can usually find a crowd-free option in the funicular going up to the Grande Motte glacier in Val Claret. The subway train experience is unique, the glacier itself is often less packed with skiers and the views are out of this world.
- – To avoid a queue at the Olympique, head for the Bellevarde Express chair next door instead, then ski across to the Loyes Express. This takes you to the same spot as the Olympique and gives you a bonus guaranteed seat.
- – Start your ski day in La Fornet by catching an early shuttle bus. It gives you time to take advantage of the area before everyone else has skied over from Val d’Isere.
Enjoying a baguette in a pretty spot or eating on the lift is cheaper than a restaurant – and you can enjoy quieter pistes whilst the rest of the world stuffs their face.
Keep hydrated on the go with a camelbak or water bottle in your backpack. Or for something stronger, invest in Leki Hot Shot ski poles. They have a hollow core and screw top grip so you can swig your favourite tipple on the move.
Armed with some extra bits of kit and a healthy dollop of stamina, you can hike to some of the most beautiful areas in the Tarentaise, without a lift or queue in sight.
Skiers will need to hire or invest in touring skis – they’re lighter, and specialist bindings that allow you to free your heel from the base plate make it easier to shlep uphill. You can swap your alpine boots for touring boots, which are specially designed to have more flex when walking. And attach a set of skins to the bottom of your skis to help grip the snow.
Snowboarders can try out a splitboard – essentially a snowboard that literally splits in half to become two fat ‘skis’ when you want to tackle an ascent. Use retractable poles when walking and attach them to your backpack when snowboarding.
If you’re going off-piste don’t forget your avalanche gear. We’d also recommend hiring a ski school guide for a day to scope out the best and safest routes for your ability.