The Search for Pure Pistes…

The Search for Pure Pistes…

Untouched snows, uncrowded pistes, clear blue skies; all the things skiers dream about. If you really have a taste for the thrills offered by nature in her purest form, there are some other alpine activities emerging.

What is Heliskiing?

Billed as the unforgettable “freeride experience”, Heliskiing is the never-ending search for the whitest, most untouched pistes in the world, accessible only by helicopter. In the same way that the search for the perfect wave has flooded the world of surfing, the search for the elusive mountain top, driven by an intrepid spirit is the essence of Heliskiing.

A Heliskiing trip works like this: you and a group of up to five others, including a guide, usually, will pack your gear into a helicopter. You’ll be taken to a remote mountain top, or a high altitude area boasting a higher-than-average snowfall. From there you ski, enjoying everything the mountain has to throw at you.

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Not a trip for the inexperienced, or faint of heart; you’ll be carving up deep, untouched snow, leaving serious snow clouds in your wake. There will be near-vertical drops to negotiate and trees to slalom, all in the golden silence of the quiet mountain. The slightly less experienced skiers will be taken to the powder fields and enjoy an equally secluded, but more gentle run.

Typically, your run will end in a remote location. After several hours of skiing in seclusion, either alone, or with your group, you’ll be picked up by the helicopter and delivered back to your Ski Chalet.

For those who can’t get enough, you can take one-day trips which focus on bringing skiers to the best virgin snow on offer during the season, while week-long packages will often include some Backcountry and Ski Mountaineering excursions. These are not new disciplines, but they have recently become more popular.

What is Backcountry Skiing?

Backcountry Skiing is the constant search for virgin snow, with an emphasis on skiing for skiing’s sake. And why not? Backcountry Skiers will often search out the best snow and then ascend the mountain, usually on foot, and ski to the base repeatedly. Very similar to skiing your favourite run in a resort, only quieter and often more challenging given the absence of a ski lift.

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What is Ski Mountaineering?

Ski Mountaineering combines mountain climbing techniques with skiing for a single ascent and then descent of a mountain. This is probably the most extreme alpine activity as it will severely challenge your skiing, climbing and survival skills, as well as your fitness. Some routes will ask you to traverse a glacier or negotiate an ice wall in pursuit of the summit. The reward? You get to ski to the bottom!

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Is Your Adrenaline Pumping Yet?

You can either book a package with a company experienced in these activities, or you can create your own bespoke trip. It depends on just how loudly the wild is calling…

When it comes to finding accommodation for your ski chalet break in Europe, the market is plentiful and the region welcoming. Look no further than Chalet Finder.

By Marie-Paule Graham

This article was brought to you by Chalet Finder – dedicated to finding the perfect ski chalet for you and your friends in France, Austria, Switzerland and all over Europe and the United States/Canada.


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