Skiing in Alpe d'Huez

Alpe d’Huez has an almost perfect mix of pistes, with easy greens and wide blues above the village, more challenging reds higher up and steep and bumpy blacks off the top. The Grande Domain also covers skiing above Auris-en-Oisans, Villard Reculas, Oz-en-Oisans and Vaujany.

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Alpe d’Huez Ski Area Overview

The heart of Alpe d’Huez fits many people’s idea of the perfect mix of pistes. The runs just above the main village are wide open greens and gentle blues, the next section of lifts take you up to a pleasing network of reds and more challenging blues and the only runs down from the top of the glacier are steep and often bumpy blacks. Less confident intermediates who want to get a sense of travel and explore a wider area should therefore leave the highest lifts to more accomplished skiers and move across the mountain to the ski areas above the other lift-linked villages in the Alpe d’Huez Grand Domain such as Auris-en-Oisans, Villard Reculas, Oz-en-Oisans and Vaujany-Villette. Except for Vaujany all can be approached on blue or red runs.

Sarenne and Auris

Alpe d’Huez can also boast the longest piste in the Alps. The black Sarenne runs for 16 km down from the top of the Pic Blanc Glacier (3330m) to the valley that separates the ski area of Auris from the central area and is a beautiful run in every sense. The top half is steep and bumpy (though there is also a path allowing more intermediates skiers to get down) and the bottom is a gentle path that flanks the river and offers sublime views down the gorge. To access this neighbouring ski area from the town there is a vertigo-inspiring down and then up chairlift which takes you to the bottom of the largely north-facing reds on the Auris side which, though short in vertical, make an excellent half-days skiing from the peak of Signal de l’Homme (2176m). If you want to get a bit of land on this side of the valley you can choose blue, red, black or even the very steep track under the Maronne chair which used to be a famously precarious drag lift.

Signal and Oz

On the other side of town lurk the competition pistes of Signal (2115m), an area of which is floodlit three evenings a week. From the top of here you can also drop down the back to the old village of Villard Reculas (1480m) on either a black, red or blue. Off-piste skiers can also drop down into the next valley to the village of Oz, which has some excellent off-piste and most of the tree-lined skiing so it is always a good bet in bad weather. It is normally accessed from the first stage station of the Rousses bubble. The second stage of the same lift gets you high enough to work you way down and over to all the skiing under the Dome des Petites Rousses (2800m), stretching all the way over to the Vaujany valley, home to some very picturesque and cruisy north-west facing reds and blues. A good indication of the breadth of skiing across the area is that you can follow a piste from the top of the Pic Blanc Glacier (3330m) right the way across to La Villette or Enversin, shedding 2210 vertical metres as you do so. It goes without saying that there are plenty of off-piste routes that offer a similar vertical drop.

Photo: Copyright © Alpe d’Huez Tourisme | Laurent Salino

Beginner Skiing in Alpe d’Huez

Alpe d’Huez offers some of the most convenient beginner facilities anywhere and there is also a special beginner’s lift pass.

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Photo: Copyright © Alpe d’Huez Tourisme | Laurent Salino

The best area for beginners in Alpe d’Huez is the wide open green nursery slopes above the main accommodation area. The snow conditions are usually good and beginners, in particular, appreciate skiing in the sun. The slopes are some of the most convenient beginner facilities anywhere in the mountains and there is also a special lift pass just covering the lifts in that area.

The only downside is that the pistes can get very busy at the end of the day and are a bit of a thoroughfare for skiers coming down from higher up the mountain.

Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Alpe d’Huez

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Intermediate Skiing in Alpe d’Huez

Both early and strong intermediates are spoiled for choice in Alpe d’Huez.

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Early and strong intermediates are spoiled for choice in Alpe d’Huez, particularly in good snow conditions when there are choices of fabulously long reds and blues across the mountain range. There are some lovely runs above the main village which are worth doing before the afternoon rush, the best of which is probably the Canyon which is like a natural half-pipe with its high sides. Many of the low villages have great runs down, including the steep red of Souveraine and the gentler blue of Petit Prince down to Villard.

One of the ultimate intermediate runs leaves from the top of the second stage of the Rousses bubble (2700m) along the piste of the same name. At Alpette (2050m) carry along the blues of Chalets, Travers, écureuils and finally under the beautiful rock faces and frozen waterfalls next to Vaujaniate down to La Villette. The views down the l’Eau d’Olles valley here are unsurpassed in the ski area. An alternative to carrying on down immediately is to take the Vallonnet chair from where there are several interesting routes down.

Photo: Copyright © Alpe d’Huez Tourisme | Laurent Salino

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Alpe d’Huez

The main area for advanced and expert skiers in Alpe d’Huez is the top of the Pic Blanc Glacier, both on and off-piste. There are several alternatives following the ridge down towards the Sarenne Gorge and a few short blacks serviced by the highest Glacier chair, but most runs head back down to the main ski area.

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Opportunities on-piste at the top of the Pic Blanc Glacier include a number of routes off the ridge rthat runs down towards the Sarenne gorge and a few short blacks serviced by the highest Glacier chair, but most runs head back down to the main ski area. The Tunnel, named after the passage through the rock that gives access to the pistes, is the toughest way down. The adjacent Les Chocards is a slightly less daunting alternative that forks off after the tunnel.

There are also some excellent runs from Clocher de Macle (2800m), the base of the very welcome new third stage Marmottes lift up to the glacier. The Combe Charbonniere, though often closed and never pisted, is the best of the lot. From here you can also drop of the sides down towards the centre of the ski area.

The glacier also has some excellent off-piste. Traverse skier’s left from Chateau Noir and come down any of the numerous couloirs that later rejoin the Sarenne path. You can also drop off the other side of the ridge through the rock face down towards Clocher de Macle or stay on the ridge line and drop down through the couloirs of Mine de l’Herpie. A half an hour hike from the top and as you to access to the couloirs from Pic Bayle across the Rousses glacier from where you can pick a line all the way down to Enversin. Skier’s right of the Dome des Petites Rousses offers some big cliffs and tight couloirs and there is also some interesting off-piste of the back of Signal de l’Homme.

There are also many different off-piste to three that drop down over 2000 vertical metres from the top of Pic Blanc to different villages around the Grande Rousses Massif, some of which finish within the ski lift area and others require a taxi or helicopter to return to Alpe d’Huez. All of these should not be attempted without a qualified guide.

Lastly advanced skiers should take advantage of the buses or helicopters that for now provide a rudimentary link between Alpe D’Huez and Les Deux Alpes, because a day or two at the latter is included in most Alpe D’Huez lift passes. ‘L2A’ has a smaller ski area but within it are some interesting challenges for advanced skiers, on and off-the piste. And it’s also a gateway to the off-piste mecca of La Grave.

Photo: Copyright © Alpe d’Huez Tourisme | Laurent Salino

Boarding & Freestyle in Alpe d’Huez

For boarders, Alpe d’Huez has three snow parks and some excellent off-piste.

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Alpe d’Huez offers some excellent off-piste accessible to boarders and there are also three snow parks. The main park, under the Lac Blanc lift, is more intermediate-focused; the smaller Piste de Bob has bigger jumps. There is also another small park in Auris.

Photo: Copyright © Alpe d’Huez Tourisme | Laurent Salino

Alpe d’Huez Mountain Restaurants

Alpe d’Huez has a good collection of charming mountain restaurants.

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In contrast to any other purpose-built French resort, Alpe d’Huez has a good collection of charming mountain restaurants. Under the first stage of Marmottes La Cabane de Poutat is a charming traditional restaurant with a nice sun terrace but the most charismatic in the central area is the Chalet du Lac Besson, in the area of the frozen lakes on the edge of the Boulevard des Lacs piste. This is more of a cross-country track so is not easy to get to but well worth the effort. Check out the Perce Neige in the Oz Valley and the views and food at the Bergerie in Villard.

Photo: Copyright © Alpe d’Huez Tourisme | Laurent Salino


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