This year, La Rosiere unveiled two shiny new chairlifts opening up a world of freeride fun

Alf Alderson checks out the new Mont Valaisan freeride zone in La Rosiere

Most people think of La Rosiere as a sunny, cheerful family-friendly resort with wide, open blue and red pistes and the undeniably attractive option of nipping into the linked resort of La Thuile in Italy.

So how come, then, that I’m here in La Rosiere and standing atop an airy ridge at 2800-metres looking down into a steep, powder-choked bowl that, even four days after the last snowfall, offers fresh lines of varying degrees of excitement?

The answer is that I’m exploring the resort’s new Mont Valaisan freeride zone, which opened this season and has in one fell swoop totally changed what La Rosiere is all about. Sure, families and intermediate skiers can still have a blast here, but where those riders who look for something more challenging were once not that well served, as of this season, they’re spoilt for choice.

Two six-seater detachable chairs can transport well over 2000 skiers an hour up to the resort’s new high point at the aforementioned 2800-metres (over 400-metres loftier than the previous high point of Fort de la Redoute); it’s a project that took nine -years to complete and has taken into account all manner of environmental considerations, from minimising the number and height of the pylons to reduce the visual impact to making the area beneath them a protected ‘biotope’ zone in summer.

La Rosiere wasn't the only station in Europe to open new lifts in 2018/19, learn about the best new lifts of the winter here.

It offers some truly excellent freeriding on slopes facing predominantly north and south, thus ensuring good snow in most weather conditions. I visited in the second week in February; there had been a good dump a few days before but given that it was the first week of the French half-term holidays I was expecting to have to queue for the lifts and search hard for untracked lines.

Not a bit of it; I didn’t encounter a single lift queue as I lapped Mont Valaisan time after time, and it was still possible to find your own lines with a bit of sniffing around.

The terrain directly beneath the lifts is south facing and is intersected by five new red pistes - even these were quiet, and I also enjoyed a few blasts down ‘2800’ and ‘Combe’ as they softened up in the afternoon sun, with hardly another skier in sight.

The presence of these pistes means that novice freeriders can easily nip in and out of the freeride zone and build confidence before heading further afield – and ‘further afield’ offers everything from easily-angled slopes and bowls to steeper, more challenging stuff along with plenty of drop-offs and terrain features if that’s your thing.

There’s a spot at the top of the second lift where you can check your transceiver, after which you’re free to explore in the sun, or head over the ridge above the lift station to the steeper north face of Mont Valaisan where you’ll find a wide, steep slope plummeting hundreds of metres, with the option of traversing across to even steeper and more challenging chutes and rock bands. This also allows you to access Italy, which is highly recommended for lunch if nothing else…

And that’s not all. By hiring a guide there are some beautiful touring options that are easily accessible from La Rosiere, such as 2515-metre Bec Rouge immediately east of the resort, which has a number of routes on its slopes through high alpine and deeply forested terrain.Add to all this some of the Alps’ best views of the south side of the Mont Blanc massif and it’s hard not to conclude that La Rosiere is now a resort that will suit everyone from complete beginner to off piste aficionado.

From a personal point of view my own brief exploration of the new Mont Valaisan freeride area had me gagging to go back for more – the next time we get a dump I’ll be in the lift queue for sure; except that there may not even be a lift queue if my last experience is anything to go by.

 

Explore the area around La Rosiere on a Freshtracks holiday. Many of our trips will hop around the Tarentaise and stop off at La Rosiere to sample the best conditions available on each day.

Find out more abut La Rosiere by visiting our resort page or exploring their own website.