Alpe d’Huez is one of those Super-Resorts that boomed towards the end of the 20th century, and has been steadily developing since, but actual dates from the mid 1930s. The total area ‘Grande Domaine’ now adds up to some 10,000 hectares with a drop of 2,200m, and spreads it’s experience right across the ability spectrum, with a relatively high number of sunny days (300).
At 16kms, the leg-burning Sarenne run is one of the world’s longest, giving around an hour and half without having to touch a lift of any sort. The La Fare or Château Noir runs also offer the more lift-phobic their idea of heaven.
The near 100 lifts can move more than 100,000 people an hour up the mountain. 2009/10 has seen the new, 1,800m long, Blue run (Les Ancolies). The Marmottes 1 is now a part-covered 6 seat chair lift, which replaces the 6 person Gondola, giving an increased lift capacity. Finally. Belvedere will see a new lift, but work is still underway at the time of writing.
The majority of Alpe d’Huez’s slopes are South facing, which makes for an enviable number of sunny days. 900 snow cannons are spread over 50 runs, which should help if the snow clouds are not forthcoming. The cannon covered drop of 1330m means that fun can still be had if there is poor snow cover elsewhere.
There is free access on three lifts and one drag-lift, which helps keep costs down if there is a wide range of abilities in your group. There are two areas, specifically for Novices, which are segregated form the rest of the area. It can certainly help the raw beginners confidence not to have out of control bodies hurtling past (or into) them, as they try to learn.
There are two funparks, both near the main area. The beginners park is near the Troncon lift, and the more interesting (strangely!) inter/advanced one is by the Poutran lift. With such a big area there are numerous natural obstacles.
Night riding on the, FIS sanctioned, Signal Slalom Stadium is available on two nights a week.
Bobsleigh track of 1200m.
An hours Dog Sledding is €43 for an adult and €31 for children.
Les Deux alpes is 45min away with a day there included in the week long Liftpass. However, the size of the available area at Alpe d’Huez is near inexhaustible for most but the most picky. Talking of which: for €65 (per person) you can get dropped off at the top of a 2 Alpes slope then, flown back at the end of the day.
Resort base 1120m
Top lift: 3330m
Area: 238kms Piste
Longest run: 16km
Mountain Restaurants: 13
Green runs: 32%
Off Piste: Excellent
Slope Style: Freestyle 80%
Slope Style: Freeride 72%
Snow Canon coverage: 32%
Tree runs: None
Travel: Fly to Lyon
Transfer time: 2hr 30min
09/10 Liftpass www.sataski.com
Tourist Office: Alpe d’Huez
Serre Chevalier Snow Forecast