The Paradiski area offers a large selection of off-piste lines and difficult pistes for the more advanced skier or snowboarder, as you'd expect from one of Europe's largest ski areas. Ski from high altitude around 3,250m, ski the two lift-accessible glaciers, opt for free-ride lines through the couloirs, hike out into the back country, or tackle black or red pistes... the choices are wide and varied for those with the skills and experience to take them on.
Advanced areas in La Plagne
Even though La Plagne has a reputation for being a slightly easier resort in terms of piste riding, there is plenty to keep an advanced skier or snowboarder occupied, and the best area for advanced riding in La Plagne is the Bellecôte glacier. The Glacier de la Chiaupe, or the Bellecôte glacier as it is more commonly known, has a couple of great blacks that are graded 'Natur' - meaning they remain unpisted through the season. Le Rochu and Bellecôte are definitely worth trying in any snow conditions, and if there is fresh snow then there is plenty more to enjoy in between the pistes. The mogul field at the top of the Traversée chair lift can be seen for miles, the moguls are that big and the field itself is also about 200m long – a real leg burner and challenge for the advanced skier.
Mont de la Guerre is the longest and probably the most satisfying of red runs in the whole resort, snaking its way along a narrow path accessed from Les Verdons by taking the blue run, Bozelet. A third of the way down you'll find a sign for Mont de la Guerre, take a right here, hold your speed for the long traverse as the run meanders along the top of the mountain on a narrow pathway before finally opening onto a gloriously wide piste. The views over Les Trois Vallées, Bozel, Courchevel, Champagny-en-Vanoise, La Grande Casse and Pralognan la Vanoise are spectacular. Unfortunately because this run terminates at Champagny, one of the lowest points in La Plagne, it's often closed at the beginning and end of the season. However, if it's open when you're here, you really should include this run in your plans, it's the stuff of memories.
Also in the same sector you have Kamikaze. The run drops sharply towards Champagny on a gradient that would make it a black in other resorts, but it soon mellows, and there are numerous off-piste options either side delivering glorious powder runs in the right conditions.
The Biollay sector is home to some of La Plagne's toughest in-bounds terrain, plus numerous off-piste itineraries on the far side of the bowl. The pitch here is very prone to sliding and you'll definitely need a guide for heading off-piste. For those who want to stick to the pistes, from the top of the Becoin chair follow the flow off Pavane, then Golf into the Emile Allais piste. The path at the top is quite shallow (it's a blue), but the run soon starts to pitch as you drop over onto the La Roche side of the mountain. It's the perfect run for more advanced snowboarders and skiers to let rip with wide, arching turns, and you can really gun it down this piste after a fresh dump.
If you like the bumps and feeling the burn there is a piste called Ski des Bosses, which means 'ski the moguls', and it is always in great condition. There are also big bumps and moguls to be found on the Verdon Sud.
Another good area for advanced skiers is just above Aime La Plagne at Le Biolley (2,350m). There are several different blacks (Les Étroits, Morbleu, Les Coqs and Plsembleu) with Les Étroits being the longest and the most challenging of the selection. If you were to get Les Étroits and the Morbleu first tracks, you may find yourself walking out at the bottom as they both come out on a track that follows the river along the valley floor to the Adrets chair.
There are also a couple of black runs in Montchavin/Les Coches which may be short, but provide a steep gradient on which to play. Off the back of the Grand Rochette and Les Verdons there are plenty of steeps to enjoy, and again there is easily accessible off piste when the snow is deep. There are 16 black runs in the La Plagne resort, but with the whole connecting Paradiski ski area you can head to Les Arcs and discover some more of the advanced skiing there as well.
Advanced areas in Les Arcs
Les Arcs has over 40 designated red runs, and 17 black runs, with most of them sitting above 2,000m. For advanced skiing in Les Arcs, head to the Aiguille Rouge cable car and the genuinely challenging skiing to be found on the Varet glacier, high above Arcs 2000.
It is up here that you'll find the longest run in resort, a breathtaking black that goes all the way down to Villaroger - 7km long and over 2000m of vertical drop. The initial drop-in at the top is pretty steep, and following windy conditions can be very sheer. If you don't fancy it in those conditions, follow Arandelières as it wends its way down the upper section; both runs converge on the Glacier du Varet, which is broad, open, steep and largely north-facing. The black and red runs and the bounteous off-piste possibilities in the Aiguille Rouge area will keep even the most energetic skier or snowboarder entertained. However, to make the most of the terrain up here a mountain guide is recommended as the area is glaciated and there are also some expansive cliff faces to be avoided.
Ecureuils is a black with the steepest section at the bottom, it's an ideal 'starter' run as the more difficult mogully part can be avoided by taking a steep, but still significantly easier, turn towards Plan Peisey. Fond Blanc is the perfect finisher black run, as it's short, sharp and sweet. Running straight off the ridge you can pick up some serious speed before joining a blue run above the snowpark.
Some great red runs to consider are Belette, Malgovert and Myrtille. Belette can be very fast, literally dropping off the Traversée (blue), starting very steep then levelling off gradually. The lower section ends with a gradient increase that gives an additional boost. Malgovert is one the piste-bashers leave well alone, and consequently includes a number of obstacles. After an initial flat (snowboarders be aware), the piste traces a rather eccentric route down to the Mont Blanc blue run and Arc 1600 somewhere down below. When visibility is poor we'd recommend avoiding this run, as its twists and turns are easily missed. Myrtilles is a tree run that is fast and wide with sweeping corners and consistent gradient. Other favourites include Cachette over in Arc 1600, surprisingly steep it is broad and thus invites some frequent carving. Aigle cuts through the woods above Vallandry ending at the Grizzly lift, and it's a favourite run of ours as it's never too steep or too flat, the piste is wide and when the light is flat the trees aid visibility and also ensure the slopes remain in tip top condition even late in the season.
If speed is your thing then the Aiguille Rouge/Varet area is also home to Les Arcs "Kilometre Lancé" or "Flying Kilometre" piste. Whilst you can't do this piste unsupervised, it is possible to put yourself against the clock through the Les Arcs Club des Sports, who can also provide you with all the necessary safety equipment. You will often see the pro-speed skiers in their futuristic space suits training on this piste, attaining speeds of over 200km/h.
Those of you with springs in your legs will no doubt love pounding the bumps of the Dou de l'Homme piste, or perhaps explore the fabulous off-piste through the Nancroix forest.