© Giles Towler
Advanced ski areas in Avoriaz
Discover the top Avoriaz advanced skiing
The Portes du Soleil is home to 197 lifts, offering access to 650km of pisted runs, linking up 13 villages across France and Switzerland. Of those pistes, 105 are red runs, and 26 black. If you like challenging steep runs that seem to go on forever, then Avoriaz and the Portes du Soleil has got plenty to keep your legs working hard.
Advanced areas in Avoriaz
Above Avoriaz the best area for both steep and long vertical descents is the Hauts Forts. For very steep (and very long) black runs try Combe du Machon, a steep mogul run that takes you under the chairlift, Arête des Intrets, Combette and the spectacular ridge line drop of Coupe du Monde, which is usually quite windblown making it steep and icy.
These pistes run into either the Gouilles Rouges or Le Crôt, a blue taking you right to the foot of the lifts at the head of the Prodains valley; Prodains téléphérique, TS Verare and TS Combe du Machon. The latter two are preferable to the Prodains téléphérique as that only takes you as far as Avoriaz and you will need to take the Express Lac Intrets to the top of the Hauts Forts. These are super steep, very long and in the case of the Combe du Machon exhibit some very demanding moguls. This is particularly long and very steep mogul section for the advanced skier.
Another great option for a super long top to bottom drop from the Hauts Forts is the blue runs Bleue d’Arare and Le Crôt. The former is a wide but steep long blue run into Avoriaz. There are often ski races fenced off to the skiers’ left, it is easy to get up some super scary speed down here. The latter is the home run and although it does have some road sections, these are outnumbered by steep and often quite bumpy sections meaning it’s easy to keep up the speed and fly through the former before you've even noticed. The drop from the Hauts Forts to the head of the Prodains valley is over 1k and if you go quickly enough you’ll be popping your ears at the bottom.
Nearer to Avoriaz centre is a great little mogul section under the Express du Stade to skiers’ right of Stade du Slalom. The latter generally gets pretty mogulled as a function of rarely being pisted.
Advanced areas in Chatel
Secteur Linga offers up some great terrain, notable among it is a couple of very steep reds, the best of which is the run into Villapeyron from the top of the TS des Combes, the Le Linga. This is super steep at the top for a couple of kilometres before slackening into super-fast turns near to the village.
For bumps try the black run Les Renards closer to Plaine Dranse which is accessed via the TS de la Chaux-Rosées. This is a mostly wide and very long run of varying gradient and super steep in places. Best of all is that the moguls are such that you can get a nice rhythm going.
Advanced areas in Morzine
Morzine has a few advanced pistes. Easiest to reach are the Pléney home runs that are serviced by the Pléney Bubble and run from the top of the Plateau to the foot of the pistes. There are numerous ways down the Pléney but the fastest and steepest are directly under the TS D'Atray: Piste A and Piste J. These two can either be lapped by jumping back on the D'Atray lift or you can finish with the glory section back to the foot of the Pléney on Piste H. To ski the lower section of the Pléney at it's fastest go along to night skiing on a Thursday. Floodlit and frozen, you'll need some Samurai sword edges.
From the Point de Nyon at 2,019m, drop all the way down the Aigle Rouge to the Plateau du Nyon continuing onward down the Chamois red. At this point you could, if your legs do not have sufficient burn, return to the top of the Pointe du Nyon via the TS Pre Favre and TS de La Point for an encore. Or, continue down the Chamois and Retour des Nantes all the way into Morzine and the foot of the Pléney télécabine. Alternatively, continue on the blue Lievre to the téléphérique de Nyon. You’ll have now lost the best part of 1k via either route.
For moguls head for the Aigle Noir under the TS de la Pointe lift.
Chamossière is a little-known gem that has a couple of pretty steep runs off it. It isn't easily connected to Morzine, and is therefore usually quiet and often overlooked by tourists. However, the red Arbis piste is one of the best around, it's super steep and bumpy near the top making it more of a black for that section, slackening in gradient and widening as you progress down the hill. Perfect for super high-speed Super G carve turns. By the time you reach the Grand Pré you’ll be more than ready for a break at one of the three restaurants, particularly if you have gone non-stop top to bottom.
Advanced areas in Les Gets
Les Gets, or more precisely the Chavannes Bowl, has two black runs: Yeti and Myrtilles. Both nearly always sport some pretty severe moguls on steep gradients. For something a little steadier to work on technique, try under the lift line of the Nauchets Express to the skiers’ right of Ambresalles.
Mont Chéry above Les Gets also has a couple of steep long mogul runs down the back of the mountain to Encrenaz; Mouflon and Chevreuil.
Intermediate areas in Avoriaz & Morzine
Intermediate skiers on the Super Morzine/Avoriaz side of resort can take their pick from multiple blues of a more demanding variety and a similar number of reds, the latter concentrated in the Secteur Chavanette. Try the Bleue du Lac for a warm up before using the Express Choucas and Fornet Express to session the reds; Blanchot, Alpages, Cubore, Patenaille, Lanches and maybe the Canyon du Schott too.
Starting from Nyon, keep on the Aigle rouge into the Combe and maybe onward down the Chamois, which are all perfect red pistes. Head over to Chamossière avoid the black Creux run, and exercise caution down the top section of the Arbis red.
Tour of Avoriaz & the Portes du Soleil
How about tackling 'the Circuit', a trip around the whole of the Portes du Soleil starting and finishing in Morzine?
This is an all day affair, and although most of the runs are technically undemanding, the quantity of skiing and the length of time involved make it unsuitable for the less experience and the less fit. This also applies to snowboarders, who will not enjoy some of the shallow blue traverse runs. However, this loop is perfect for intermediates or advanced skiers wanting a big day out on cruisey blues and reds. The other word of warning is you need to be able to cope with drag lifts and t-bar tows, as there are a few in the Swiss sector of this route.
Start by taking the Super Morzine télécabine and the Zore Express. Drop down the easy blue run Seraussaix to warm the legs up a touch before getting on the Express Proclou taking you above Linderets. Choose from the blues and reds available to drop down towards Linderets and the TS Chaux Fleurie. This will rapidly take you to the ridge of the Col du Bassachaux, leaving you to descend down to Plain Dranse on the red Les Voraches piste. Take the TS de la Chaux-de-Rosées and descend towards Les Combes on either of two blue runs; Les Blanchots or Les Blattins. Both are wide and fast although not particularly steep. The TS des Combes will take you up above Linga, leaving you to do the huge red Le Linga or the blue La Leiche all the way to the lift Gabelou. The red is super steep but wide, with a blue cat track to the side for those not wishing to get too carried away.
You ride the Gabelou around the edge of Chatel, and then immediately hop on the Portes du Soleil lift which will take you into the Chatel Bowl at the top of the Chatel Bubble. You now need to get on the much longer TK Chalet-Neuf to the saddle of the Portes de Culet above Morgins. At this point, you are about to drop into Switzerland but do not worry you are unlikely to need your passport. Check out the view of the Dents du Midi, something you’ll be seeing a lot of for the Swiss part of the journey, and the best bit is that it only gets more spectacular as the trip heads on to Champoussin and Les Crosets. Take the red Culet I, but head off to skiers right at the first opportunity down the blue Sepaz all the way into Morgins.
Cross the road and take the old télésiège up the opposite side of the valley to La Foilleuse, this is maybe a good place for lunch, you’ll be hungry by now and the views of the Dents du Midi are spectacular. Follow the blue run in the signposted direction of Champoussin. This will drop you all the way down to a t-bar lift TK Les Bochasses. Follow the blue all the way to the TS Aiguille des Champeys. For those more advanced skiers making good time early afternoon, you could drop down the black and take the same lift back up. For everyone else, head down the blue in the direction signposted Les Crosets, and take the TS Pointe de l’Au leaving you on the said point perched above Les Crosets. Follow the reds turning into blues down the face of the Portes du Soleil.
If in Les Crosets you are running late and are in danger of getting stuck over in Switzerland as the lifts shut; at about 15:30 take the TS des Mossettes to get yourselves back into France. At worst, you will have to drop down through Linderets to Ardent and get the ski bus back to Morzine. For everyone else, you can move onto the TS Crosets. Follow the blue turning to red run signposted direction Champery, which will bring you to the Grand Paradis and the télésiège of the same name. Drop to the foot of the TS Planachaux a few metres away, and from there take the blue to the foot of the TK Ripaille. Use the blue to descend to the TS Chavanette, and watch as you ascend over the Swiss wall. If you have time and are an expert skier of bumps and steeps then you could return to the foot of this lift and retrace your steps. Be warned this is the longest and most difficult run in the Portes du Soleil, and gets many people into trouble and into hospital. That would be a very inaccessible hospital in Monthey, making it unlikely your friends will visit.
Once you're at the top of the Swiss wall, drop into the Chavanette sector above Avoriaz. Take the red Lanches run joining the blue Chavanette, and onwards into Avoriaz via the blue Retour Chavanette, by what will be the frozen Lac to the skier’s right. Hopefully, at this point the lifts will still be running, but it will be close whichever way you look at it. If they are running, take the Express du Stade cutting over to the Bleue de Arare in the direction of Morzine as you ascend in the lift. This will drop you down to the top of the Prodains téléphérique. If you missed the Express du Stade then make the short walk, ten minutes at the most, to Prodains. From here you could take the téléphérique down, but that would be a shame after all that skiing, much better to opt for the Le Crôt home run. At this point, you will most definitely have very sore legs to show for your trip around the Portes du Soleil. All that remains is a short bus ride back down the Vallée Ardoisières into Morzine town for some liquid refreshment.