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    IMPORTANT - Please note: We accept bookings with children and infants on any date in Bear Lodge on room by room bookings, or on any date in any chalet if occupying the whole chalet. Also in all chalets for departures on 15, 22 & 29 Dec 2021; 6 & 13 Feb; 27 Mar; 3 & 10 Apr 2022 . Bookings made online outside these parameters unfortunately will not be accepted. 


5 Of The Best Off-Piste Routes In Val d’Isere

TDC Ski instructor skiing deep powder

Val d'Isere, with its vast, mostly lift-accessible terrain, offers a treasure trove of routes for adventurous skier looking to escape the marked trails and enjoy some untouched powder away from the crowds (particularly during the holidays). In this guide, ski instructor and off-piste manager at TDCSki, Terry, outlines 5 of the best off-piste routes in Val d'Isere.

From the remote tranquillity of Pays Desert to the adrenaline-inducing steeps of Pisteur’s Couloir, there's something for every level of adventure seeker.

Two skiers hiking up slope with skis on shoulders

5. Pays Desert

The trickiest part of this route is the T-Bar to the top of the Pisaillas glacier. Look far and high left on the piste map. For the best snow, take off your skis and hike 50 meters up and around the top of the T-Bar station. From there, traverse far right and slide downhill on nothing more than a green run steepness. It holds good snow for ages due to it’s altitude. Chalky snow in barren snow times, and some spring later in the season.

You’ll finish up at the bottom of the Pay Desert drag lift. What’s not to like!

Pays Desert off-piste route Val d'Isere

4. Tour du Charvet

A well-frequented route a top the Grand Pre lift behind the big Val d’Isere sign. Go straight on and right a bit. If you go downhill, you’ll end up back in the Manchet valley at the chairlift. At first this route is a low gradient and holds powder for a while after a dump. The steeps then bring some risk, and potentially refrozen snow as they face south. However, if you get it right, this route can be magical and truly feels far from the throng. Follow the river through a miniature yet aesthetic gorge to get back to the lifts.

Look around on the way through the valley bottom, Chamois are a rare but beautiful sight, and I always will them to escape the red-bearded vultures above.

Skier skiing down Tour du Charvet in Val d'Isere

3. Cugnai

Cugnai is an off-piste gem in Val d'Isere, it has some challenging yet rewarding terrain. Accessed from the top of the Cugnai lift, the entrance can be a little tricky. Skiers right holds spring snow, and far left cold winter powder. From halfway, one has the choice to follow the fall-line for a steep direct exit, or head a long way left through the boulder fields and couloir exits.

A client of mine once lost a ski in here, we therefore swapped and I drained my legs skiing out on a solitary ski, swapping feet every minute to share the drudgery.

Cugnai off-piste route

2. Vallonet

My favourite lift accessible route in the area. Though not one for snowboarders as there is a kilometre of flat/up after the exit over the Pont St. Charles. Seriously, don’t do it. From the top of the Signal drag lift, briefly enter Grand Vallon, only to traverse the entire bowl and pop over the col at the far side. Route navigation is serious in this valley, there are many steep slopes, cornices and terrain traps. Please take care and ski with a guide for your first descent. It is skied far more rarely than it’s neighbouring Grand Vallon, leaving fresh snow if you can find it.

Look high right on the ski back to the Fornet bus stop, there’s a huge heard of Ibex hanging out on the cliffs most of the time.

TDC Ski instructor talking with client

1. Pisteur's Couloir

This is the most serious route on the list, its inclusion is ethically debatable. Ski this at your own risk, not on my recommendation. From the Grand Pre lift, hike for approximately 20 minutes to the top of the Charvet ridge. From there, enter an intensely narrow, perhaps 3 meters wide, unduly steep, perhaps 45 degrees, couloir. If you make the first 20 meters, well done as it now eases off and you’ll be compensated with a thrilling ski back to the piste.

The fact that you can see this route everyday from the top of Bellevarde entices many, but few ever realise their ambition.

Pisteur's Couloir Route Val d'Isere

Please note, this is not a description of safe places to ski, in fact, somewhat the opposite. As you venture off-piste, it's essential to prioritise safety and be equipped with the necessary avalanche gear and knowledge! Don’t hesitate to speak with us at TDCSki and learn from one of our extremely experienced ski instructors who can guide you to the best spots.

Private lessons, group clinics or off-piste guiding

The experienced instructors at TDCSki are on hand to offer private lessons, group clinics and off-piste guiding for both skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts.

After an exhilarating day mastering the off-piste in Val d'Isère, indulge in relaxation and luxury with our selection of 18 catered ski chalets.

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Please contact Louise, Jess, Maxine, Cam or Millie if you have any questions.

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