Carve long and hard this winter: explore some seriously long ski runs in the Alps.
Not only do longer descents allow you more time on the slopes and less time queuing for lifts, but they start high – usually with awesome views – and take you on a journey through some of the most diverse terrain on the mountain.
We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite longest ski runs in the Alps, with an epic descent for all levels.
Alpe d’Huez, France
16-kilometre black run
The Sarenne piste stretches from Pic Blanc at 3,330 metres to Alpe d’Huez at 1,860m. It consisits of two sections: initially a fairly steep series of pitches which can get a bit mogulled and then a long flatter section along the valley. It is primarily a black ski run, but you can avoid the really steep section at the top by skiing off from the Marmottes 3 bubble instead. On a powder day, the run can take quite some time with waist-deep snow to wade through in the flatter section.
11-kilometre red/black run
The ‘Eleven’ piste is, as you may imagine, an 11-kilometre-long ski run. It starts from the Greitspitze at 2,872m, the highest skiable point in the Tyrol, and descends to Ischgl at 1,400m. The first part of Eleven is black, then the ski piste is consistently red. The medium part of the ski run takes you past the Idalp and on to the town centre of Ischgl. The best way to access the starting point of Eleven is by the new Lange Wand C5 or by the Greitspitz lift B4 or by the Greitspitz mountain railway O1.
Les Arcs, France
Eight-kilometre red/black run
Ride the cable car up to the highest peak in the resort, the Aiguille Rouge (Red Needle) at 3,226 metres . From here, ski the Aguille Rouge run down to the hamlet of Villaroger at 1,200 metres. This ski run is notable for its length (8km) and vertical descent (over 2,000m). It is classed as black at the top, then about a third of the way down chances into a red, but is still very demanding. The Aguille Rouge is best tackled at the beginning of the day as queues to get on the cable car form quickly and the slope can become crowded. Good quality snow can almost always been found on the Aguille Rouge – the upper half being above 3,000 metres while the lower half is north-facing so holds the snow well.
20-kilometre red run
Access one of the world’s longest ski runs from the Klein Matterhorn, also known as the Piccolo Cervino. Europe’s highest cable car whisks you up onto the Klein Matterhorn over gigantic glacial crevasses. From its lofty height of 3,883 metres, take an epic 20-kilometre descent down red runs to Valtournenche at 1,524 metres, Cervinia’s lift-linked neighbour. Alternatively, from the Klein Matterhorn, you can ski the 13-kilometre descent down into Zermatt, Switzerland. Whichever direction you choose – Cervinia or Zermatt – this is one heck of a run which begins with enormous glacial fields and drops into steeper mogulled terrain. Due to its altitude, the ski runs from the Klein Matterhorn are consistently skiable from late November to mid-April. For something slightly shorter, try Cervinia’s red Ventina piste, an 11.5-kilometre descent from Plateau Rosa.
14-kilometre blue run
The Cascades piste is renowned for being the longest blue run in Europe. Start at the top of Les Grandes Platières in Flaine, at 2,500 metres, and ski all the way down to Sixt. Experience the 1,800-metre vertical and take in the spectacular scenery along the way – not a single ski lift in sight. Be sure to make a stop at the Gers lake restaurant, a popular place to sit, enjoy a meal and admire the scenery. On arrival in Sixt, take the free shuttle bus back to the GME car park in Samoëns.
Val Cenis, France
10-kilometre green run
The 10-kilometre L’Escargot, the longest green ski run in Europe, is ideal for beginners who are getting sick of the nursery slopes. It gives them a chance to stretch their legs with the big boys. The L’Escargot starts at 2,050 metres and winds its way down to 1,398 metres, most of which is in pine and larch forest. From the top, views aren’t at all shabby – you’ll see the Dent Parachee, the Pointe D’Andagne and even the Grand Paradis. Snowboarders may not enjoy it quite as much as skiers, as parts of the run are quite flat.