The best resorts for Easter skiing
Published on March 24th, 2016 | by Jordan Kierans0
March may be drawing to a close, but there’s still plenty of skiing and snowboarding to be had. The very best conditions are, of course, found at high altitudes on the high pistes of the Alps and North America, but where exactly has the best of the snow for the holidays? Here’s our round-up of 10 resorts to head for this Easter.
Popular with Brits, Val d’Isère (1,850m) has 150km of mainly intermediate pistes but it’s also a great place for experts as there is plenty of off piste to explore. One of the big draws is its link to high, snowsure Tignes (2,100m), which has slopes up to 3,455m on the Grand Motte glacier. These two resorts form the Espace Killy, offering a total of 300km of varied terrain. Val is the prettier of the two to stay in but Tignes is probably a more convenient with quick access to the glacier.
Tignes will be hosting an Easter egg hunts throughout the day on Sunday March 27 and Val d’Isère will also be hosting a chocolate egg hunt at the foot of the lifts during the Easter weekend.
This is Europe’s highest resort at 2,300m and its slopes reach 3,230m. Val Thorens itself has 150km of pistes but it’s also part of the huge Trois Vallées ski area, which has a total of 600km of pistes. This high, snow-sure resort has a season that runs until May and mostly offers ski-in/ski-out accommodation, making it popular with families. This purpose-built resort has seen the opening of more and more upmarket accommodation in recent years as well as a good range of restaurants on and off the mountain including the two Michelin-starred Jean Suplice run by the chef of the same name.
The high, snow-sure and varied slopes of Les Deux Alpes (1,650m) are a good late-season option. The 200km of slopes go up to 3,570m and include an extensive glacier that is also popular during the summer. The resort has plenty of challenges off piste from beginners to experts, including at the nearby resort of La Grave a short walk or snowcat tow away. It also has one of Europe’s top terrain parks and has a become a haven for freestylers in winter and summer, when the terrain park moves to the glacier.
The recent falls of fresh dry snow in the Tirol are helping to ensure pistes at all altitudes are in great shape, especially in St Anton (1,300m) where upper slopes now have a snow depth of 225cm. Our two reader trips here, which took place over the past fortnight, have had excellent conditions. St Anton’s 160km of pistes mostly suit confident intermediates and experts, who come here for the extensive off piste, but the lift pass also gives access to the whole of Arlberg region offering a total of 340km of runs, which includes the more family-friendly, gentler slopes of Lech and Zürs further along the valley. The Nasserein end of this large resort is great for families with good nursery slopes and a moving carpet. And for those who like to party as hard as they hit the slopes, this is the place – legendary après spots include the Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh.
The resort of Ischgl sits at 1,400m with most of its slopes served by modern, fast lifts and sitting above 1,800m – very high for the Tirol. Plus, most runs face north so the snow stays in good condition even late in the day.
Accommodation is of a high standard and après is very lively. The resort is known for its epic opening and closing parties – this year the Beach Boys opened the season and Muse will close it with a concert on April 30. The 238km of pistes are high, snowsure and great for intermediates – they’re also linked to the small village of Samnaun in Switzerland.
Another high ski area for Austria, most of Sölden’s slopes are above 2,000m. The resort has an excellent snow record with a season that runs from November to May, plus extensive snowmaking covers two-thirds of pistes. The resort has access to two glaciers offering cruisey blue runs, but the 145km of pistes are best suited to confident intermediates. There are also some long runs to tackle including a 15km one with a 1,900m vertical. The lift pass includes a day at nearby British favourite Obergurgl (1,930m), where the 110km of quiet, gentler snow-sure pistes are ideal for families and beginners.
Dry powdery snow awaits at the charming resort of Zermatt (1,620m) where there are superb conditions on the glacier pistes and snow is reported to be 230cm deep. The resort’s 200km slopes are high, varied and have exceptional mountain views, including of the iconic Matterhorn. Zermatt is linked to Cervinia in Italy, offering a total of 360km of slopes that are best suited to intermediates and experts. Zermatt is also the perfect place for foodies – the choice of mountain restaurants is huge and the gourmet standard exceptionally high. For lunch with a view of the Matterhorn try Chez Vrony at Findeln.
On Sunday March 27, Zermatt’s mascot Wolli the sheep will ride through the village in a horse-drawn carriage and hand out presents to the children.
The resort’s extensive, challenging slopes are high and offer spectacular mountain views. Good snow cover is guaranteed thanks to extensive snowmaking facilities down to resort level, despite the slopes being south facing and blessed by the sun at this time of year, and the Mont Fort glacier always has good snow. Verbier is known for its off piste but the 195km of slopes will keep intermediates happy and the nursery slopes are in the centre of town, making them convenient for families. There is a high standard of accommodation throughout the resort plus a lively après scene.
Lake Louise, Alberta
Across Canada the snow conditions are great – recent low temperatures and light snowfalls, have helped maintain the substantial accumulated snow base. Lake Louise (1,646m) in Banff National Park in the Rockies has groomed powder and corduroy conditions at present. This quiet resort offers spectacular mountain scenery in abundance as well as the beautiful lake itself. The 4,200 acres are best suited to intermediates and experts but there’s also a great ski school for children, as well as good childcare facilities. The tri-area lift pass covers Lake Louise, Sunshine Village (Banff’s ski resort) with its excellent snow record and Norquay, offering a total of 7,748 acres.
Across Colorado there is dry and powdery snow. Aspen (2,473m) now has a 165cm snow base at resort level and 220cm of snow on its upper slopes, which rise to 3,559m. Aspen has 5,517 acres (including the neighbouring resort of Snowmass) of relatively quiet slopes, served by fast lifts with few queues, and beginners, intermediates and experts will all find terrain to suit across one of the four mountains. Aspen is a family-friendly resort, with a children’s trail map and the Frog Fort for little ones on Buttermilk Mountain.