Situated only 77km from Grenoble, La Grave is a cult destination for hardcore skiers looking for extreme off-piste. Its vast snowfields, huge glaciers, giant seracs, morriane fields and menacing coloirs bring true exhilaration and a wild skiing experience.
Although a few words of serious warning: Many of La Grave's extreme ski routes are ON glaciers - this means gaping crevasses, falling seracs and extreme avalanche danger. It’s worth investing in a guide if you’re planning to go off piste.
The 'piste map' says it all - pick your own route, with care. The retro-style 'pulse' gondola inches up to 3200m in 30 minutes, pausing at the P1 mid-station. At the top, a short walk brings you to two drag lifts on the glacier. After pretty technical entry points, the two primary descents, Vallons de Chancel and Vallons de la Meije, offer a mixture of steeps, open powder fields and forest. Extreme cliff drops and couloirs await those with a guide, equipment, skill and guts.
"If you want purpose built convenience, long lunches with sheep skin throws and heated chairlifts, then look elsewhere. If you want to ski in one of the most famous (and infamous) resorts in the world for off piste skiing, where the runs are not marked, (and neither are most of the cliffs) - look no further. Every day in La Grave is an adventure – even if you are just lapping from Peyrou d’Amont to P1. In the morning, you will see skiers with ice axes and crampons, along with those just heading up for some winter climbing.
There are a couple of marked runs right at the top on the glacier, but that is not what La Grave is about – it is about skiing in true high mountain terrain, experiencing all that entails and having some of the best (and most challenging, if you want) skiing of your life. If you’ve not been there before, then hire a mountain guide – you won’t regret it if you do (but you might if you don’t).
Every time I have skied there, there’s been a dog running down the mountain with someone skiing/boarding– that makes it the coolest resort in the world, if you ask me." Al Morgan, Head of Member Services at the Ski Club