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Chamonix is one of the most famous extreme ski and snowboard towns in the world. Like anywhere some areas can be prone to avalanches so be sure to consult the weather and snow conditions before venturing out. Only experienced riders, accompanied by a qualified mountain guide, and equipped with all necessary avalanche safety equipment should go off-piste.
Always take a guide if you go off-piste.

6 Snowboarding areas

Aiguille du Midi: Intermediate - Expert
The famous Vallée Blanche, a 20km run down a glacier, is the most accessible route from the Aiguille du Midi. It's recommended that Snowboarders take telescopic poles with them as the there„s a long flat run out section towards the end of the Mer de Glace. Alternatively, very experienced riders, with a guide, can take one of the 4 off piste couloirs. There's also 2 off-piste runs from the mid-station.

Grands Montets: Intermediate - Expert
The largest area of marked piste in the valley. There's also a snow park and a half pipe sponsored by Salomon, which is host to many extreme competitions, as well as 2 test centres. The best off-piste terrain is from the top of Aiguille du Grands Montets or from Bochard & Herse lifts.

La Flégère: Beginner - Intermediate
Plently of cat tracks, natural kickers & obstacles make La Flégère a great place for perfecting tricks. Excellent off-piste too and a great powder record. Linked to Le Brévent by horizontal cable car.

Le Brévent: Intermediate
Great all round terrain with some natural kickers. Some easy marked pistes plus some legendary couloirs & powder bowls. Most of the couloirs are only a 10-15 min hike from the top of a lift. Remember to take a guide when going off piste.

Le Tour: Beginner - Intermediate
Great place to learn. There's a 1km long natural half pipe here and various kickers around the slopes. Most of the off-piste is over the back and can take you into Switzerland.

Les Houches: All Levels
Once more an ideal place to learn on gentle blue runs and interesting red tree-lined runs.

  © Camelia Liparoti
© Camelia Liparoti

New School Riding

Over the last few years, slope based sports have evolved dramatically. These days, winter sport is no longer just about going down the slopes on 2 bits of wood! The following explanation will guide you on the various types of slope based sports and equipment on offer. Then all you need to do is try them out!

Boardercross 2, 4 or 6 snowboarders head off at the same time down a course made up of raised corners, jumps, narrow tracks and tunnels.

Freeride Off-piste skiing over an ungroomed area which is marked out and controlled, and which is
accessible by the ski lifts. This is for very strong skiers only.

Kitesurf or kiteski This involves being pulled along on a board or skis by a huge kite. This particular sport is not very developed due to the lack of areas in which it can be practised.

New School It is all about having fun and expressing yourself in the snow. Jumps have advanced to include grabs, rotations etc. New school has brought with it new techniques and has changed skiers attitudes.

Skiercross 4 to 6 skiers head off together down a course made up of raised corners, jumps and modules.

Parabolic skis or carving These have come to replace traditional skis. Designed with a wide tip, a narrow waist and a wide tail, they allow a more rapid response and make it easier to have fun early on.

Skwal It takes its origins from snowboarding and monoskiing. It involves facing down the slope on a board narrower than a snowboard.

Snowboarding Born in Vermont, USA, about 20 years ago, snowboarding is now a widely practised sport and requires little introduction. However, for those still unsure, here goes… One foot is placed in front of the other, side on the board, with no need for poles. Before starting out, you need to work out if you are 'goofy' (left foot forward) or 'regular' (right foot forward).

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