Avoriaz probably offers the biggest area for easy access off piste, and this high altitude play area is easily reached from most villages in the Portes du Soleil.
If you are unsure of the area or the snow conditions there are a few Snowcross Zones in Avoriaz. These are un-pisted but secured areas where you can enjoy the freedom of the off-piste with the safety of the pisted runs. These do get tracked out quickly, so you need to be fast to get the fresh snow and remember that if they are closed then they are very dangerous.
Once in Avoriaz take the Express Lac Intrets to the top of the Hauts Forts and descend towards the Secteur Chavanette using the Bleue du Lac, ensuring you explore the little stashes to either side of the piste. Follow the Aller Chavanette down through the tunnel and you’ll reach the foot of the Secteur Chavanette with a choice of two lifts to access the top; Express Choucas and Express du Fornet. The latter lift takes you up above the Canyon du Pschott Snowzone. This is a large un-pisted area characterised by multiple canyons, natural half pipes, cliff drops and kickers. It is one of the best areas to head for after a big dump of snow as the variety of terrain is immense and, despite it sitting right in front of everyone on the lift, does take some time during the day to become tracked out. The multiple lines down this area all converge on the aforementioned lifts making multiple runs easy. The Express Choucas provides access to similar terrain on the opposite side of the bowl and again the multiple lines drop you down to the two lifts at the bottom. The latter has less potential to run you down into a big cliff drop if you lose your bearing but is demanding none the less.
To finish off your day in the Secteur Chavanette take the Express du Fornet and head a little further afield to the Vallée de la Manche. Watch out for the warning signs at the top indicating you are headed into a totally un-patrolled area and are therefore operating at your own risk. The traverse will be obvious, before dropping into the canyon du Pschott bare left and drop over the low saddle to enter the valley. This will give you access to a huge powder field with a huge drop affording plenty of chances to put in the powder eights or big GS style turns complete with rooster tails. Just keep on following the obvious valley route past the old chalet building and onwards to the head of the valley road. If there is sufficient base then it is possible to ski all the way back down to Morzine all though this does involve a little bit of poling. For anybody not up for that, and any snowboarders, then catch the new bus service back to town. Unfortunately the latter has prompted an increase in the popularity of the valley but still, it’s not one to miss.
Secteur Linderets sits adjacent to Avoriaz and the Fornet valley. Lower down this valley the drop under the Col de Bassachaux is accessed from the TS Chaux Fleurie. Drop straight under and to the left of the lift line along multiple lines passing through the trees and into the little, and some not so little, cliffs at the end of the run near the foot of the lift stations.
Higher up the Linderets valley, accessed via the Express Mossettes lift drop straight under the lift line for a long section of natural features where, drops ins, wall rides and kickers abound. The section is marked on the lift as La Frontalière Snowzone but receives fairly light use as a function of its demanding nature. Alternatively, drop down a little way from the Mossettes lift station towards the Les Cases run and, as soon as the fence runs out, drop the edge and traverse back towards the lift line. This is a great big hump of mountain dropping all the way to the Les Cases blue for a return journey to the Express Mossettes lift. On the opposite side of the valley, the TS Cubore lifts you up to the ridge line whereby you can traverse along as required before dropping down again to the Les Cases blue.
If you’re new to the world of off-piste and are feeling a little nervous about taking the step into the unknown then the tree runs up the Super Morzine might be the perfect place to head to. Take the chairlift up the Zore and explore the runs all the way back to the top of the Super Morzine bubble. It’s a great area to help you perfect your powder skiing. It’s also perfect if you’re not looking to travel too far.