Val Thorens, situated in the famed Le Trois Vallees in the French Alps, is a complete paradise for expert skiers. It is the highest ski resort in all of Europe at a staggering 2300m altitude; it boasts superb conditions which enable you to get the most out of your stay, not to mention the breathtaking views. In addition to the terrific doorstep skiing, you can also get access to the gigantic Le Trois Vallees ski area which features over 600km of runs. Many of these will challenge even the most seasoned expert skier.
For advanced skiers seeking an adrenaline rush, check out these four excellent itineraries.
Lac du Lou
There are two exhilarating and extremely rewarding off-piste routes down to the beautiful lake – one from the Cime de Caron and one from the top of the Boismint chair.
Cime de Caron
After taking the Cime de Caron cable car, there will be two options ahead of you: you can head towards the tricky Combe de Rosael (black run) and veer into the Vallon de Lou from right of the ridge, or alternatively follow the Col de l’Audzin (red run) and enter from the left. A wide expanse of slopes will open up before you offering a variety of options, including a well-tracked main route that is easy to follow.
After this exhilarating downhill section, you will soon arrive at the stream. Follow it while the ground beneath your skis gets flatter, before veering to the right and above the lake. Get ready for your breath to be taken away by the sight of the enchanting frozen lake – the wooden bridge where a stream runs out is a great place to stop to take in the views.
With steeper slopes and no flat sections, this route is particularly popular with snowboarders. It is much shorter, but just as enjoyable. From the Boismint chair, you simply head up and over a short slope into Vallon du Lou. Similarly to the Cime de Caron route, you can find the wooden bridge by going over the lake.
This itinerary is not the most challenging in Val Thorens, but it does feature a steep traverse at the start and its impressive altitude makes it popular with experts. Another plus is that it’s located not too far from the pistes.
Up in the clouds at the highest point reached by a lift in the entire Three Valleys region, this spectacular route begins at 3230m at the top of the Bouchet chair. After getting off the chairlift, continue straight over to the other side of the col. After a short yet steep descent, traverse to the right; beware that this is quite a steep slope with a risk of avalanches.
This turn will bring you into a wide valley where you will see the dramatic shapes that the Col Pierre Lory cuts above your head. Alternatively, you can descend straight ahead instead of to the right, which will put you on a steeper slope and see you join the valley slightly lower down. In the valley, you will find great skiing and a picturesque stream before passing a cross towards the end. This will see you arrive at the Mauriennaise piste.
This itinerary from the top of the Col chair to Pralognan is an excellent day out, but it is recommended that you go with a high mountain guide as it does involve glaciers. Remember that, with or without guides, you should always wear a harness and have ropes with you, and for this route touring skis and skins are required.
After reaching the top of the Col via the Moraine and Col chairlifts, follow the piste around the corner and trek across the glacier towards Col de Polset. Cross the ridge to the left and ski down to the Lac de Chaviere, before trekking north-east up the Glacier de Polset to the col near the trig point, which is marked on the map (2992m). Next, a thrilling ski down a steep slope will gradually flatten out as you near GR55. Pass the Refuge Peclet Polset on your left, which will take you to a very pleasant area where you can enjoy a picnic, eat in a restaurant or simply refresh with a quick drink. Whilst enjoying this stop, keep your eyes peeled for chamois which can be seen in the area.
The valley runs for another 6km and the final section has cross-country ski trails, which will bring you into Pralongan-la-Vanoise. Here you will need a taxi (be sure to book in advance) to Brides-les-Bains, where the Brides bubble can transport you to Méribel and the lifts and pistes will get you safely back to the resort.
La Combe sans Nom
The epic La Combe Sans Nom itinerary is incredibly peaceful, quiet and provides amazing views of the surrounding area. However, route-finding can be tricky and there is more of an avalanche risk than other off-piste itineraries.
Take the Combe de Rosael run at the top of Cime de Caron all the way to the col, which leads over the Brequin ridge to the Maurienne side. Just to the left of the ridge, exit the piste to the right and the journey begins. Be warned, the initial slope is steep and should be avoided if there is an avalanche risk. The main route follows the valley first to the right and then curving left. There are also variants near the start where you can ski steeper slopes to the left.
All routes will rejoin at the spot height 2482m where you carry on down and arrive at the spot height 2338m. Ski under the 50m high bluff and take a sharp left over the small col to get through the rocks. After traversing, you will need to take a short walk to the top of the bump. You will then come out at the Plan Bouchet and the bottom of the Maurienne chair where you can enjoy a well-earned drink at Chalet Chinal Donat.
How to Get to Val Thorens
The most convenient way to reach Val Thorens is to fly into Geneva (GVA), at 155km away from the resort, from which a transfer will take around 2 hours. Another option is to fly into Chambéry (CMF), which is slightly closer at 122km and will also take around 2 hours. Other options by air are Grenoble (GNB) and Lyon (LYS), which are 188km and 200km away respectively.
The onwards journey to the resort can be stressful, particularly when you have all of your ski equipment with you. To alleviate this stress and ensure a fast and efficient journey, it is worth booking a Shuttle Direct transfer as we can transport your equipment for no added charge. This allows you to sit back and enjoy the ride as you are whisked into the French Alps.
About Shuttle Direct:
Shuttle Direct is a leading transfer company who provides fast, reliable and professional transfers to and from airports, hotels, train stations and other places of interest. They also have extensive experience in providing winter transfers throughout the French, Italian and Austrian Alps.
Their shared and private transfer options cater to all budgets and group sizes, plus ski equipment can be transported for free if you request this at the time of booking.
For winter ski transfers from Geneva, Chambéry, Lyon and Grenoble, book today and let their expert team handle the logistics.