Best Backcountry Ski Vacations in Europe

Text by: Kelsey Begg

Norrona, Ski & Snowboard. Best Backcountry Ski Vacations in Europe

So you want to plan a ski trip but you don’t know where to go. With epic ski destinations scattered all around the world, picking one spot can be the hardest part but it also leaves endless opportunities for future trips. Deciding on a destination often comes down to what type of terrain you are looking for and the type of experience you wish to have.

Some of the most exposed and epic ski terrain can be found in Europe and is often times only a lift line away. If you’re on the hunt for adrenaline-pumping, blood-boiling, knee-shaking backcountry terrain, get your pen and paper ready and start taking notes. Europe is home to the Alps among other rugged mountain ranges and full of exhilarating adventures waiting it be had.

Europe Destinations Not to be Missed:

France

 

A photo posted by TIGNES (@tignesofficiel) on


France is full of backcountry opportunities and many of their multiple resorts will offer some sort of off-piste terrain. Whether you’re down for some skinning and hiking or not, in France, the backcountry terrain is closer than you think and is sure to satisfy your hunger for fresh powder and technical lines.

From easy access at the top of the lifts to 45+ minute hikes, France’s backcountry terrain offers a collection of steep and narrow couloirs, epic stashes of snow and exposed avalanche controlled and non-controlled terrain. For the expert and advanced riders looking to spice up their ski season, France is a good start.

If you’re itching to check out the backcountry ski scene in France, here are a few places you won’t want to miss:

• Avoriaz
• Alpe d’Huez
• Tignes
• Val d’Isère
• Chamonix

Switzerland


Home to more than just delicious and delectable chocolate, Switzerland offers some of the most epic and rugged ski terrain found in Europe. With epic peaks and jaw-dropping mountains views, Switzerland’s backcountry terrain will test your skills and feed your need for adrenaline and adventure.

From tempting powder bowls to technical bump runs, Switzerland has a little bit of everything to keep any type of skier delighted. From the freeskiers to the bump skiers, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Switzerland.

If you’re looking for more than Swiss chocolate in Switzerland, you won’t want to miss:

• Verbier
• Zermatt
• Saas-Fee

Italy


Italy’s ski scene is about more than just the aprés. Popular for its ski touring opportunities as well as the off-piste terrain, Italy has unlimited adrenaline-pumping ski runs waiting to be explored. From steep gullys and bumps to powder so good it’s what powder lovers dream of, Italy is sure to keep you smiling and stoked for the duration of your trip.

If you’re equipped with ski touring gear, you might as well take advantage of the accessible ski touring network and explore one or more of the numerous mountain huts spread throughout the valley in the Aosta region. Because so many of the European ski destinations are located in and around the Alps, you can easily connect to one resort from another and take your already epic ski days to the next level.

While in Italy, you will not want to miss:

• Courmayeur
• Gressoney
• Champoluc
• Cervinia
• Alagna

Norway

 

A photo posted by Elizabeth Keane (@heenaluwahinee) on


Norway is no stranger to the epic world of backcountry skiing and is home to many Norweigian brands such as Norrøna producing technical ski gear designed for the rugged terrain. With plentiful backcountry possibilities, Norway is sure to be on the top of many backcountry adventurers ‘places to go’ lists.

If you like working for your turns, Norway is the place for you. With numerous destinations to check out, you won’t be disappointed by the breathtaking mountain views, technical couloirs, alpine ridge lines and open slopes.

Whether you’re looking for chairlifts or you prefer to earn your turns, here are a few spots in Norway that you won’t want to miss:

• Lyngen Alps
• Lofoten
• Senja
• Sunnmøre Alps
• Narvik
• Voss Resort
• Fjord Region

Preparation is Key

Whether you’re riding the lifts or skinning up, it is always ideal to have a backpack with all the appropriate safety gear needed for a day in the mountains. Avalanches can happen within resort boundaries and if you’re on the hunt for epic lines and fresh powder, you are more likely to travel through some avalanche susceptible terrain. Be prepared is about more than layering properly, it’s about packing the right gear, doing the appropriate research ahead of time and using your common sense.

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