La Thuile Advanced & Off-Piste Skiing

La Thuile and La Rosiere have about a dozen black runs for advanced skiers to choose from, including the famous Franco Berthod World Cup piste. There are also extensive freeriding and off-piste opportunities, especially from the new lifts at Mont Valaisan, and great heliskiing too.

Black runs and challenging pistes in La Thuile and La Rosiere

La Thuile's advanced skiers don't have to go far to find testing slopes (which can be handy for parents of young children and other time-pressed skiers and boarders). Often the first piste they can see from the village is black piste number 3, dedicated to Franco Berthod, the great local skier, which has hosted many a European Cup downhill competition. The slope gradient reaches 37 degrees in places as it plunges 800m down towards the village. It faces North so holds its snow well for a a resort-level run. Another black run in the same area with similar steepness is piste number 2, with 710m of vertical, and piste number 5.

Moving further away, Piste 25, descends steeply from the top of the Belvedere chairlift to the base of the Fourclaz Express chairlift. Piste 23 is also worth a visit. 

The black runs in La Rosiere are testing too, although this is partly because they tend to be low and South-facing, and therefore are often slushy or icy. This is certainly true of Ecudets and Ecureil coming down to Ecudets, and Marcassin down to the Petit Bois chairlift at Le Vaz. Get to them when the snow conditions are right (either fresh snow has just fallen or they have just been piste-bashed) and they are steep enough to be highly enjoyable. A safer bet is the higher and more East-facing (but not as steep) black Chevreuil run from Roc Noir. The red runs in the Fort and Mont Valaisan sector are  worth a visit as well.

Freeriding, Off-Piste Skiing and Heliskiing in La Thuile and La Rosiere

Close to La Thuile, reasonably safe (but not totally safe) off-piste terrain can be found on the wooded lower slopes bordered by piste number 4. There is a similar area (except it faces South West) at La Rosiere, between Roc Noir and the les Ecudets lift and close by the snow-cross area called Les Zittieux. Provided you're sensible and can both see what you are doing and know what you are doing, you shouldn't come to too much harm, although hiring a guide is still recommended.

The top of the Fort sector has steep runs on both sides. Be particularly careful about going off the back without a guide - there are some very big cliffs here.

The Mont Valaisan extension opened up some interesting off-piste opportunities. Before the Mont Valaisan lifts were built for the 2018/19 winter season, this was already an off-piste destination for ski tourers and others prepared to walk up hill for two hours. Now the need for an ascent has been largely or totally removed, although some of the off-piste skiing on the South face has been coverted into red pistes. But the North-face is an unofficial freeride zone. It's easy to access - just look for the Piste Hors signs near the top of Piste 2800 - but only a guide can tell you if its safe to ski or not. And there are much longer intineraries linking into the Combe des Moulins on the South-face and descending down to the Petit Bois chairlift or even lower to the small villages of les Moulins or Le Mousselard outside the ski area (take a taxi back); or heading North-Eastwards, towards La Joux and La Thuile.

La Thuile offers reasonably priced heli-skiing for good skiers and boarders with spectacular views of some of the highest mountains in the Alps and guiding by the Rutor Mountain Guides Association.  Heli-skiing in La Thuile is available from early January until May with helicopter flights to a number of landing points in the area including Pointe Lechaud, Monte Miravidi, Mont Ouille, Mont Freduaz and the head of the Rutor Glacier. Some of these have descents into France from where you catch a taxi back to La Rosiere.

Advanced skiers should also consider visiting Courmayeur. The piste skiing there won't appeal to experts but Courmayeur's off-piste and ski touring is outstanding. You can catch buses there and back, and some of the descents return you to the Espace San Bernardo (or close to it). At least one day's skiing in Courmayeur is usually included in most Espace San Bernardo ski passes, or if you are going to be a frequent visitor you can buy a Valle d'Aosta pass.

Guides will usually provide all the specialist equipent you need for off-piste skiing (including harnesses for glacier skiing) and, very importantly, show you how to use it correctly. But if you're meeting a guide, you should still bring your own water/drinks flask, snack including energy bar, mobile phone, and extra layer and make a note of the local emergency numbers. If you are skiing off-piste without a guide (never recommended) you should at least have all the items already mentioned plus your own transceiver, poles and a shovel. In more and more of Italy, this is not just good sense but a mandatory legal requirement, enforced through spot checks.

 

La Thuile Rating

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5 Day Snow & Weather Forecast

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