Europe's Best Snowboarding
To ski or to board?
That is the first question.
If the answer is TO BOARD, then the next question is are you a freerider, loving the ungroomed terrain and white and wide open spaces, a freestyler, flying round the snowparks, or a carver, speeding down the slopes and carving out those big 'S' shapes on the clean snow.
The final question is where are you going to go? Europe has the scenery, slopes and plenty of the white stuff – these are the best places to don your boots and board in Europe, based on the kind of fun you want to have with them.
Best Terrain for Freeriders
The off piste terrain of the Chamonix Valley is some of the world's best, but anything that exciting looking is going to be dangerous. Argentihre is where most of Chamonix's all season boarders hang out – the north facing runs above the resort have some of the most reliable cover around, the views are incredible and there are lots of off piste options – one of the most famous runs being the Point de Vue. Le Tour has some popular boarding trails, leading off a big bowl then along a few spines and riding quarter pipes and gullies. Below the Col Cornu are the chutes and steep runs and drops, while Plan Praz has the fastest runs, shooting through the trees. Chamonix's longest run is four kilometres long, zooming from the Vally Blanche down the glacier.
There's a park at Charamillion which has rails, jumps, tabletops and a 150metre half pipe.
This is one of the main snowboarding resorts in France and has been for years. It’s also got heaps of space to it - it would take about a week to run all of the runs and trails. The park space is massive as well, with two half pipes.
The area around the Pissaillas glacier has challenging gullies and ridges, and the run called Col Pers, which starts, slap bang in the middle of all that dramatic scenery - the glacier below you, and below that a wide bowl, offers all sorts of potential. Les Danaides can be relied upon for snow, it's a sheltered valley with some interesting terrian running though it, but the longest run is at La Daille: over rolling bumps and through banks of trees, and apparently all at just the right incline for speed, with just a hint of fear. La Daille also has the best snowpark, replete with tabletop, boxs, rails, jumps and a couple of quarter pipes.
This region offers easy access to the sky-scraping backdrop of the Dolomites. There are three resorts along the valley floor: Seleva is the best known, by both skiers and boarders, Ortisei is the main town and Santa Cristina is somewhere in the middle, both literally and figuratively. As well as the scenery, Seleva is known for its local crafts, woodcarving etc. are still big here – you might see some impressive wood carved, life sized animals round town. The skiable area surrounds all three towns – you can ski all the way to Cortina, which is 25kms and covers all sorts of terrain. For steeper sections and wild jumps board Val de Tita, for chutes try Piz Boe and for long open runs board Marmolada. The snowpark is by Seleda Plateau and has an 80metre half pipe.
If tight terrain freeriding is your thing then this huge valley resort complies. The guide books say it’s like one huge snowpark with its obstacles and smooth bowls to play in. The runs are mostly along the valley, which runs for ever, so there is plenty of choice about the kind of terrain to go for and about the challenge, but this is a good choice for beginners with lots of nice even runs to work your way up on. Less for experts, but there are a couple of half pipes and a park and enough off piste potential to keep most people occupied for a month, so it’s up to you to choose your own adventure. There’s a big vertical drop of 1000 metres for the experts.
The trees around Les Vallons de la Cucumella cover up some pretty steep terrain and the runs here are some of the longest you’ll find. Cibouit is the other good long ride, but its slope is more regular. The Casse du Boeuf region also provides plenty of off piste joy.
Deep powder, natural half pipes, and the man made ones, tree banks, off piste options, a boardercross circuit and lit up runs for night riding – Davos has a lot to offer snowboarders. It's also known for having a good vibe and for loads and loads of space.
Quite a lot of people agree that St. Anton has the best terrain in Austria, so it's a popular destination for freeriders, who can play all on very varied terrain on the deep powder.
The snowpark is in the Rendl area, which is surrounded by steep and interesting terrain, bowls, rocky hazards, ridges and slopes and banks of trees.
The area has a reputation for glamour-puss skiing types, but that just leaves more place on the slopes for the boarders.
At the base of Piz Gemsstock in the Usern Valley, Andermatt gets regular dumps of thick, inviting powder, especially on its north facing slopes, and the high altitude means it keeps the snow for longer – steep gradients and loads of easily accessible off-piste terrain. Varied terrain with separate lift areas graded according to ability. Ndtschen and Stvckil for beginners, Winterhorn for the intermediates, Gemsstock for access to three excellent long black runs, from which pockets of powder, hits, jumps, and couloirs can be reached and Felsental for suicidal off piste options.
Best Snowparks for Freestylers
It may seem unlikely from her glamorous reputation, but St. Moritz is a good place to some to learn new tricks, there's a 90metre half pipe, a huge quarter pipe and jumps ranging in size from beginner to four meter jump-this-and-you-might-want-to-start-calling-yourself-a-pro size, which is why so many people come here to train, so you'll see a lot of new tricks being tried out at all levels.
Corviglia, the resort's main mountains, is a course in fast chutes into bowls, and has its own natural half pipe. The off piste runs at Marguns are known for their speed.
If you don't want to, or can't afford, to stay in glitzy St. Moritz, her surrounding villages are more relaxed.
With 157kms of piste, there's plenty of room to board here, but most people want to play in the park, which at the centre of the resort. It's got a long half pipe Next door are some smaller rails and kickers for the not quite so advanced guys. Some of the best off piste is round the Gerent ridge. Kaltenbach is a smaller local resort town and a good place to discover untracked powder. Try Zell am Ziller for the tree runs.
Livigno is less fur coats and money talks than talking with your feet and ankles and whatever else you use to snowboard. The snowparks here are well kept, the main one is on the Mottolino, and there's another, better for intermediate boarders, on Carosello. Run wise even beginners will get a good go here, with the wide open multi-lane pistes running right off the main road. If you’re a bit more advanced the off piste slopes are just past them and if you haul yourself and your gear about 4kms upwards you’ll be on powder which runs along both sides of the suggestively scooping valley. Check out the other side of the Carosello which is quieter and has a bit more in the way of terrain obstacles.
Best Slopes for Carvers
Cervinia has Italy's highest riding slopes, which also equates to some of the longest runs though some impressive scenery. Most of the boarding in in a vast sunny bowl in between two mountains and the base of the Plateau Rosa glacier – which you can board on if you're brave – mind the crevasses!
The most well-known, panoramic, and exhilarating piste is the Ventina. Pistes No.5 and No.6 are also challenging. For beginners, and for riders who want fun, the ideal piste is that of Rocce Nere.
There's not much for freestylers, but there's a half pipe in town.
Verbier's resort looks very civilised, but accesses some of the most epic terrain in the European Alps. With 400kms worth of ground, rising up to 3,300 metres, this isn't a resort that lacks snow or run options, and there's reams of off-piste space to explore as well. For long rides, slide round the mountain downwards towards Flonnay, or try out Mont Geli, Attelas or Lac des Vaux For tree dodging try Brunson and experienced riders might want to have a go at Bec des Rosses.
The snowpark is on Mont-Fort.
Nordpark is just above Innsbruck. It's tiny, but steep, with only six pistes but views over Innsbruck and scenic surrounds. Some of the runs have 65 degree inclines, finishing on daring ridges – in scenery that looks sheer as Alaska. You won't get the clean runs - there are experts living here vying to make the first tracks every day.
There's also a park with jumps, boxes, rails and the rest.
Get more inspired about your upcoming Snowboarding trip with help from WR's Wintersports Travel Specialists.
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