Claudia Timm
Author:
Claudia Timm

Snowboard and Ski: Selected Ski Areas for Freeriders

Winter Sports: The 7 Best Freeride Destinations in the Alps

Hot spots for freeriders: These freeride areas bring a smile to the face of powder fans. We present the best areas, the most beautiful runs and all important information for the perfect day in deep snow.

Powder is fun - freeride professional Sandra Lahnsteiner in Sportgastein.
Powder is fun - freeride professional Sandra Lahnsteiner in Sportgastein.

Freeriders - whether freeskiers or snowboarders - love it: the flow. The state of weightless gliding is an absolute and unconditional feeling of happiness. You can find the flow in the snow mostly off-piste in the open terrain. The physical and alpine challenge, the experience of one's own abilities, the untouched nature and also a little bit of uncertainty make freeriding a special attraction.

There are some ski areas that are particularly suitable for riding pow. ISPO.com presents the seven best freeride spots in the Alps.

1. Pure Powder in Andermatt / Uri (Ch)

It's not for nothing that Andermatt is considered a Mecca for freeriders. With fresh snow, the varied terrain around the Gemsstock transforms into a perfect playground for powder fans. In addition to wide, open slopes, narrow couloirs and challenging steep slopes ensure action-packed downhill fun. Most runs are already reached after a short hike. The effort is rewarded with endless descents, far away from the hustle and bustle of the ski area.

  • This makes Andermatt the perfect spot: short ascents and endless descents; perfect terrain, away from the hustle and bustle of the pistes, snow guarantee
  • Don't miss these runs: Rock valley, Guspis, Gfallen, Giraffe
  • Must-do away from powder: Bobsleighing on the Furka Pass
  • Meeting place for freeriders: Basecamp Andermatt
  • Mountain guide on site: Andermatt Guides
  • Day ski pass: from 39,- CHF (flexible pricing system)
Freeriding at Gemsstock.
Freeriding at Gemsstock.

2. Freerider's Paradise in Engelberg / Obwalden (Ch)

The ski destination Engelberg is a paradise for freeriders. Hardly any other area offers such varied terrain as the small ski resort in Obwalden. Treeruns, open slopes, steep sections, glacier descents and fast rappelling slopes leave nothing to be desired. The nostalgic Buiräbähnli gondola, with which you can get up the mountain comfortably, are particularly charming ascent aids.

  • This makes Engelberg the perfect spot: easily accessible freerides, variable terrain from Treeruns to glacier tours; snow guaranteed, international flair
  • Don't miss these runs: Laub, Steinberg, Galtiberg
  • Must-do away from powder: Drink in the Gletscherspalte
  • Meeting place for freeriders: Ski Lodge Engelberg
  • Mountain guide on site: Engelberg Mountain Guide
  • Day ski pass: 65,- CHF
Powderfun for freeriders in Engelberg.
Powderfun for freeriders in Engelberg.

3. Alaska Feeling in Sportgastein / Salzburg (At)

The Salzburger Sportgastein has developed from an insider tip to a freeride hotspot in the last years. The infrastructure at the end of the Gastein Valley is well-arranged: a gondola and a drag lift. But that's all it takes. It is precisely this originality that makes the freeride destination so attractive.

The wide and gentle slopes directly next to the piste are best suited for diving right in. Furthermore, the "Nord" offers 1,400 meters of depth on the way to the toll station. For those who like it more adventurous, opt for the short ascent to Salesenkogel. The highlight of the area is the challenging descent from the Schareck, which is reached with the Tauern lock over the Mölltaler Glacier ski area.

  • What makes Sportgastein the perfect spot: Wide slopes & seclusion = pure Alaska feeling, varied slopes, international freeride flair
  • Don't miss these runs: Kreuzkogel North, Salesen, Schareck
  • Meeting place for freeriders: Haeggblom's Bar in Gastein
  • Must-do away from powder: Spa Gastein
  • Mountain guide on site: Freeride Gastein
  • Day ski pass: 54,- EUR

4. Pure Adrenalin at Dachstein / Styria (At)

The mighty southern walls of the Dachstein are steep and impressive. Not only cross-country skiers and touring skiers feel at home here. For freeskiers, too, there is a lot to discover. The descent over the Edelgrieß is considered to be one of the most beautiful freerides in the Alps by powder lovers. Experienced cracks prefer the steep gullies below the south wall. Whoever is on the way at the Dachstein should bring along alpine experience, perfect skiing technique and security while hiking. Most runs are reached via the "Stairway to Heaven", a vertical iron ladder that leads about 20 meters up to the Rosemarie tunnel.

  • This makes the Dachstein the perfect spot: fabulous steep wall descents and vertical iron ladders provide for mighty adrenaline in ascent and descent.
  • Don't miss these runs: Edelgrieß, Schwadering, Rote Rinn, Gruberkar
  • Must-do away from powder: Skywalk with suspension bridge and ice palace
  • Mountain guide on site: Mountain guide office Ramsau am Dachstein
  • Day ski pass: 50,- EUR
For freeride professionals: the steep wall descents at Dachstein glacier.
For freeride professionals: the steep wall descents at Dachstein glacier.

5. Family Flair in Kleinwalsertal / Vorarlberg (At)

Although Vorarlberger Kleinwalsertal is located in Austria, it is mainly frequented by German freeriders. For the only access to the valley surrounded by mountains is via the Allgäu. The three ski areas at Walmendinger Horn, Ifen and Kanzelwand offer countless powder runs for every taste: steep channels for technicians, wide powder slopes for speed lovers, treeruns for bad weather, grass slopes for little snow and beautiful cliffs for everyone who loves airtime.

  • This makes the valley the perfect spot: Insider tip with 1,000 possibilities, cosy flair, romantic accommodation for every budget, suitable for families
  • Don't miss these runs: Gehrenhänge, Hahnenköpfle, Giebelhaus
  • Must-do away from powder: Casino Kleinwalsertal in Riezlern
  • Meeting place for freeriders: Alpine lodge Auenhütte
  • Mountain guide on site: Mountain School Kleinwalsertal
  • Day ski pass: 48,- EUR

6. Channel Spectacle at the Sellastock / South Tyrol & Trentino (It)

Impressive rock formations, steep gullies and the worldwide unique panorama make the Sella massif Italy's number one freeride destination. The Sass Pordoi is often referred to as the terrace of the Dolomites. Rightly so. The sun-drenched summit plateau offers a view of countless downhill varieties right next to the lift. Those who love adventure and have sufficient alpine knowledge will find an untouched channel and climb up on foot. The possibilities are endless. Don't forget your rope and climbing equipment. In some places, depending on the circumstances, securing must be carried out.

  • This makes the Sella pole the perfect spot: The perfect combination of ideal ski area, panorama and Dolce Vita; a family-friendly channel paradise.
  • Don't miss these runs: Mittagstal, Val Lasties, Canale Joel and Holzer
  • Must-Do´s away from powder: Drink Bombardino in Canazei
  • Meeting place for freeriders: Wine Bar "Grandma" in Canazei
  • Mountain guide on site: Pro Guide Francesco Tremolada
  • Day ski pass: 42,- EUR
  • More info: Book "Freeride in Dolomiti"

7. Freeskiing Extreme in La Grave / Hautes Alpes (F)

The freeride area in the charming mountain village of La Grave is complex and selective. The area in the Hautes Alpes of France is considered one of the most exotic ski resorts in the world. You won't find groomed slopes, barriers and warning signs here. The original mountain village belongs entirely to freeriders and hikers. But if you just want to go powder skiing without worries, this is the wrong place. The challenging terrain demands a complete alpinist who has enough power for long runs and a perfect technique.

Without a local mountain guide, it is better not to venture down the steep slopes. The danger of getting lost between narrow couloirs, crevasses, rockfalls and ice gullies is too big. Unfortunately, the future of this little freeride jewel is uncertain. Just before the final end, the legendary "Téléphériques des Glaciers de la Meije" with its colorful gondolas was taken over by a new tenant. It is still unclear which changes will result from this.

  • This makes La Grave the perfect spot: Extreme freeride terrain in a class of its own, cradle of freesking, original yet international flair
  • Don't miss these runs: La Voûte, Vallons de la Meije
  • Meeting place for freeriders: Skiers Lodge La Grave
  • Must-Do´s away from powder: Le K2 Pub
  • Mountain guide on site: ProVallone Guiding
  • Day ski pass: 50,- EUR
Claudia Timm
Author:
Claudia Timm
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