Ski journalist Patrick Thorne recently travelled to Alpe d'Huez with Ski Collection - read the review here.
Alpe d’Huez Beginners/Low LevelBeginners are very well catered for in Alpe d'Huez with a very vast array of gentle nursery slopes just above the resort. The large network of green runs above the Alpe d'Huez village is as good a nursery area as you will find anywhere, probably one of the biggest in the French Alps. Several chairlifts serve this ideal area: Fontbelle, Lac Blanc and Romans. There are 2 beginner areas in Alpe d’Huez: Rif Nel: Offers 10 well groomed green runs and a marked area specially equipped with baby modules to add a little extra fun. Access is via the 2 Rif Nel drag lifts and the new Rif Nel Express aerial ropeway.Les Jeux: Offers 6 beautiful green slopes. Access is via the Ecole 1 drag lifts and the Grenouilles rope tow or for the more confident the Jeux, Poutran and Babars drag lifts. The Petit Rif Nel and Ecoles 1 drag lifts plus the Grenouilles rope tow are free to use, but please note a free lift pass must still be obtain from the lift pass office. Alpe d’Huez IntermediatesAlpe d’Huez is a great starting base for intermediates to explore the whole of the Grand Domaine Massif.The west side of the bowl is home to the Signal 2115 station which offers a great mixture of blue and straight red runs. The Signal slope is also open for night skiing every Thursday (plus Tuesdays during French school holidays). The north side goes above 2100m and is slightly steeper, again offering a good mixture of blue and red runs. The Grand Domaine gondola takes confident intermediates looking for more of a challenge to Pic Blanc on the south side at 3320m. Alpe d’Huez ExpertsOn the south side of the bowl, the Grand Domaine gondola takes experts to Pic Blanc at 3320m. The slopes in this sector are predominately black. The infamous and appropriately named Tunnel slope passes through a tunnel before dropping away steeply. But the main attraction for experts here is the legendary Sarenne black run. This 16km run is one of the world’s longest pisted runs and takes you from Pic Blanc at 3300m right down to the Sarenne gorges at 1510m. It is also possible to book a special night time excursion on this run every Wednesday evening: accompanied by qualified ski instructors and ski patrollers, take the last cable car up to the top of Pic Blanc at 3300m and watch the sun set over the unique panorama whilst enjoying a lovely glass of mulled wine. Ski the 16km Sarenne slope assisted by headlights and continue your evening with a traditional mountain dinner at the ‘Auberge de la Combe Haute’ restaurant. Finally, ski back to the village of Huez, where a shuttle bus is provided to take you back to Alpe d’Huez. You must be a good skier to participate in this unforgettable experience. Helmets are recommended. Not recommended for snowboarders due to the slight gradient on the return to Huez village. Must be pre-booked. Contact the local tourist office or e-mail Ski Anim’Alp for more details and cost: firstname.lastname@example.orgAlpe d’Huez Off-pisteThe Grand Domaine gondola takes experts and intermediates to Pic Blanc at 3320m, where some great off-piste skiing can be accessed: the Combe du Loup, Côtes de Rivet, Pied Froid, Cerisier Combe and Corridor.Alpe d’Huez Snowboarders Alpe d’Huez organised the Ski Cross World Cup in 2010, 2011 and 2012, so snowboarders, snow park enthusiasts and freestyle skiers can rest assured that the recently redesigned and improved ski style areas are top notch. 20 new snow cannons have also been installed in the freestyle area to make the snow coverage even better. The intermediate/expert Alpe d’Huez snow park covers an impressive 21 hectares, making it one of the largest snow parks in the French Alps. It is conveniently located at the foot of the ski slopes, close to the resort, between the Lac Bleu drag lift and the DMC and is equipped with half pipe, jumps and rollers near the main lift base.You will also find a beginners’ snow park alongside the 1er Tronçon slope, which is perfect for those just starting out. The Alpe d’Huez snow parks are equipped with an automatic video shoot system with three cameras on two ramps. By identifying yourself with your lift pass, you can view your jump directly on the big screen. Enter your mobile phone number and you’ll receive a text link to your video, enabling you to share your exploits immediately via the social networks.More information: http://www.freestylepark.fr There is also a boarder-cross course and lots of free riding to be had due to the mountains’ extent and variety.Alpe d’Huez Cross-CountryIn Grandes Rousses there is an impressive 55km/ 34 miles of cross country ski trails, taking you around mountain lakes, the altiport area and Auris.Alpe d’Huez Pedestrians Alpe d’Huez offers pedestrians and snowshoe walkers 35km of marked routes to explore, with or without a guide. Benches are also provided along the way so that you can sit back for a while and simply admire the views.The pedestrian lift pass gives you access to more than 20 lifts. Just because you are not a skier or snowboarder does not mean that you should miss out. There’s plenty to do: look out over the Besson and Noir lakes at 2100m; visit the ice cave at 2700m; be mesmerised by the magnificent view from the top of Pic Blanc at 3330m where you can actually see over 1/5 of the whole of France; explore the village resorts of Huez, Auris and Villard-Reculas; or meet your skiing friends or family for a lovely lunch in one of the mountain restaurants. Approximate cost of a pedestrian pass: €19.50/person/day and €83/person/7 days. With a 7 day lift pass you are also entitled to enjoy three other activities: 1 entry to the outdoor swimming pool, 1 entry to the ice rink and 1 activity at the sports centre (without an instructor and before 16:00).