The European Alps and Dolomites contain huge amounts of incredible freeride terrain, and working out where to try for your next trip can be somewhat mind-boggling, especially when trying to coordinate dates with friends and family.
To help make things a little easier, here’s a list of the top 10 freeride camps for the 2014/15 winter season. These camps are ideal for both groups of friends and solo travellers, and combine quality guiding with half-board accommodation to remove the headaches from working out the logistics of your trips this season. Whether you’re a beginner freerider in need of some coaching or an expert looking to dive straight into the steep and deep, this list has you covered.
Parom Freeride Camp Chamonix
As the extreme sports capital of the world, Chamonix needs no introduction; its towering mountains and spires of twisted rock speak for themselves. However, you may need an introduction to the vast amount of freeride terrain in the area, and that’s where Parom Camps come in. UIAGM qualified guide Ode Siivonen and legendary freerider Skipe Oivo will take you to the best lines and deepest snow, with an emphasis on coaching and improving your backcountry skills. Includes airport transfers, chalet accommodation, 6 guided ski/board days and use of avalanche safety kit.
Location: Chamonix, France
Standard Ski Week Skiers Lodge La Grave
La Grave is probably the most raw ski area on the planet. The famous téléphérique rises from the village to the Col des Ruillans at 3200 metres on the magnificent La Meije (3982m). The entire ski area is unpisted with no formal avalanche control: this is real wilderness freeriding in some of the most rugged terrain in the world. You’ll the chance to score epic descents of up to 2150 vertical metres, such as the infamous Trifides couloirs, and the Pan du Rideau and Y-Couloir. If conditions aren’t optimal in La Grave, your guides will show you the hidden gems in nearby resorts like Alp d’Huez, Vaujany, Serre Chevalier, Mongenevre, Sestrierre, Claviere and Pragelato instead, while heliskiing is also available. Trip includes half board accommodation, 6 days guiding, local transport and use of avalanche and glacier-travel safety equipment.
Price: €1180 (high season); €1100 (low season)
Dates: All season (27.12.14 – 04.04.15
Location: La Grave, France
Livigno – St. Moritz, Hike & Ride Week
Score some of the best secret pow spots in Europe on this 6 day trip, covering Livigno, Bormio, Santa Caterina and St. Moritz. Fully qualified guides will suss out the conditions each day, choosing a resort based on your needs and where the best snow can be found. Includes 7 days half board accommodation in a hotel with spa facilities, 6 guided ski days, and loan of full avalanche kit including ABS pack.
Price: €1290 / €1450 / €1290
Dates: 24-31.01.15 / 14-21.02.15 / 07-14.02.15
Location: Livigno, Italy
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James Stentiford Splitboard Safari
The Splitboard Safari course is designed for riders who have got the splitboard bug and want to take it to the next level. Starting in Chamonix this unique course takes in a different resort each day: first through the Mt Blanc Tunnel to La Thuile in Italy, then on to La Rosiere, St Foy and Les Arcs. Includes 5 days snowboarding/splitboarding with tuition, avalanche safety equipment rental, use of a Lib Tech/GNU splitboard, 4 nights catered accommodation at The Whiteroom Chalet in La Rosiere, and transfer from La Rosiere to Geneva Airport.
Location: Chamonix, La Rosiere, St Foy & Les Arcs, France; La Thuile, Italy
Alagna Freeski Trip
A week long freeride trip in Alagna, one of Europe’s top freeride destinations. Alagna is in the Aosta Valley, on the Italian side of Mont Blanc and right amongst some of the biggest and baddest mountains in the Alps; it’s a raw freeride gem, with a backdrop of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa and descents of over 2000m form the glaciers at Punta Indren. The trip includes 7 nights accommodation with breakfast (only 200m from the lifts), 7 days lift pass for the Monterosa ski area, and 6 days riding with professional mountain guides (in groups of 4).
Dates: 17-24.01.15 / 24-31.01.15 / 31.01-07.02.15 / 07-14.02.15 / 14-21.03.15 / 21-28.03.15
Location: Alagna, Italy
Yellow Travel – Sextene Dolomites
The Dolomite mountains in Northern Italy are incredible: smooth walls or rock rise vertiginously from the alpine meadows below, only interrupted by dozens of narrow cracks and couloirs just waiting to be skied. After following your guides to the best lines in the area during the day, you’ll spend the nights in a rustic old farmhouse, dining on traditional regional Italian food. Trip includes 7 nights half board accommodation, local transfers between resorts, transfer to/from Innsbruck, 6 das skiing/riding with UIAGM mountain guides, use of avalanche equipment, and a €30 voucher for the Yellow Sports shop.
Location: Dolomites, Italy
Val d’Isere Freeski Trip
There’s a reason why Val d’Isere is one of the most popular resorts in the Alps: the Espace Killy ski area encompasses a truly mind-boggling amount of terrain. Whether you prefer gnarly couloirs, open faces or tight trees, you’ll find plenty to your liking here in one of the world’s biggest ski areas. The Freeski trip with Big Mountain Trips is one of the best ways to explore the region: instead of poring over maps and getting lost, simply follow the qualified guides to some of the best terrain you’ll ever see. Includes 7 nights accommodation with breakfast, 7 day ski pass, and 6 days skiing/riding with a UIAGM mountain guide.
Dates: 24-31.01.15 / 31.01-07.02.15 / 07-14.02.15 / 14-21.03.15 / 21-28.03.15 / 28.03-04.04.15
Location: Val d’Isere, France
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Les Arcs Freeski Camp
Les Arcs and the Paradiski area is one of Europer’s biggest ski resorts, and equally has some of the most diverse freeride terrain found anywhere on the planet. You’ll find 2000 vertical metre descents, steep couloirs, Alaska-esque big faces, tight tree skiing and fun pillow lines. Trip includes 7 nights accommodation with breakfast, 6 days lift passes and 6 days skiing in small (max 4 people) groups with a qualified guide.
Dates: 17-24.01.15 / 31.01-07.02.15 / 07-14.02.15 / 14-21.03.15 / 21-28.03.15 / 28.03-04.04.15
Location: Les Arcs, France
Tarentaise Freeski Trip
Some of the world’s biggest and best ski resorts are in the Tarentaise, including Tignes and Val d’Isere, and amongst the pistes you’ll find vast swathes of epic freeride terrain. On this trip you’ll be based in St Foy, one of the powder traps in the region, but you’ll also ski for minimum 1 day in the Espace Killy and Paradiski areas too, and have the option to add a day of heliskiing. Trip includes 7 nights 4* half board accommodation, 7 day lift pass, private shuttles between resorts and 6 days on the mountain with a fully qualified mountain guide.
Dates: 17-24.01.15 / 24-31.01.15 / 31.01-07.02.15 / 07-14.02.15 / 14-21.03.15 / 21-28.03.15 / 28.03-04.04.15
Location: St Foy, France
Andermatt Freeride Weekend
Andermatt is one of the most revered freeride destinations in Europe, famed for the steep descents of f the 2961m Gemsstock. Ideally placed in the middle of Switzerland’s Gotthard region, Andermatt is a real snow magnet: it scores the goods whenever the weather comes from the north, west or south. The trip includes 4 skiing with a UIAGM mountain guide and 3 nights half board accommodation.
Dates: 29.01-01.02.15 / 12-15.02.15 / 12-15.03.15 / 9-12.04.15
Location: Andermatt, Switzerland
Need more options? You can check out Luex’s definitive list of Freeride Camps in Europe for winter 2015.