The slopes above the focal point of Plan Checrouit are mainly wide open, but there are also wooded areas, particularly on the back side of the hill. The piste map now shows lift names and direction, but some reporters criticize piste signposting and marking.
Resort altitude: 1225m
Lower slopes: 1210m
Upper slopes: 2755m
Total pistes: 41km
Lots of drawbacks
To get to the free beginner lifts (at Plan Checrouit, on the ridge above there and at the top of the Val Veny cable car from Entrèves) you have the hassle and cost of getting up the mountain. The best starting point is the Val Veny cable car, which takes you to a moving carpet, and easy longer runs on the Peindeint chair. There is a clear lack of other easy longer runs to progress to.
Good reds, but limited extent
It's an intermediate's mountain, for sure, laced with interestingly varied, genuine red runs. But it is small; the avid piste-basher will ski it in a day. There are a few good long runs - it's 700m vertical from Col Checrouit to Zerotta, and an impressive 1400m vertical from Cresta Youla to Dolonne. On the steeper Val Veny side of the ridge there are challenges to be found - while the reds and blues cut across the mountain, a row of easy blacks go down more directly.
For the timid intermediate, on the other hand, the area is short of confidence-building blue runs. There is just one long blue on the Col Checrouit side of the ridge and a couple on the Val Veny side (which is better for the challenge-averse). Many of the reds - particularly up around Col Checrouit and down to Plan Checrouit - do have the merit that they are generally wide.
Off-piste is the challenge
Courmayeur has few challenging pistes. The black runs on the Val Veny side are not severe, but moguls are allowed to develop. If you're lucky enough to find fresh powder, you can have fantastic fun among the trees.
Classic off-piste runs go from Cresta d'Arp, at the top of the lift network, in three directions: a clockwise loop via Arp Vieille to Val Veny, with close-up views of the Miage glacier; east down a deserted valley to Dolonne or Pré-St-Didier; or south through the Youla gorge to La Balme, near La Thuile.
The off-piste possibilities on Mont Blanc are considerable, some mentioned in 'Extent of the slopes', above. A day trip to Chamonix, for both pistes and off-piste, is appealing.
There are also heli-drops, including a wonderful 20km run from the Ruitor glacier that ends near Ste-Foy in France - you take a taxi from there to La Rosière, ride the lifts back up from there and descend to La Thuile (then take another taxi back).