A Guide to The Espace Killy: Advanced Rider Edition

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It’s far from your first day on the mountain and you’d consider yourself a very competent rider who is more than able to take on most conditions the mountain has to offer. Maybe you’ve done a season before or you’ve been a steady 2/3 week a year skier for a long time. Either way, this guide will give you a rough idea of our favourite pistes to visit in the Espace Killy.

This region does also have access to some of the best off pistes routes in the world, but we’ll leave that up to you to get a local guide who can really advise you on this. And of course we would strictly advise to have all the appropriate advice and equipment for any off-piste riding you plan to do.

However, we have some great advice for advanced skiing on the pistes in the Espace Killy, so below is a suggested three-day plan for you to make the most of your first few days on your holiday with Chalet Chardons.

Day 1:

Starting off in Les Brevieres, take the Brevieres bubble car to get up and out of Les Brévières, given that you’re more than comfortable skiing blues and reds. From the top of the gondola you have two options. If it’s a nice day take the Marais chairlift to the highest point on this side of the resort, but please bear in mind it can be windy, cold and downright miserable on this lift if the weather isn’t great. But on a good day, it’s worth the effort. The “Cyclamen” run first thing in the morning is one of the hardest, fastest groomers in resort and on a good morning is the perfect warm up for those super G length turns.

Keep right at the bottom and head for the Merles lift. From the top of Merles, again keep right and head for the Grattalu lift, and from here take the run under the lift. Break left and head for the top of the “Stade De Lognon” (provided there isn’t racing on). This is the primary competition piste on this side of the resort and perfect for working on technique, with long sweeping bends and rollers in the top section, which turns into a steep slalom test piste at the bottom. Attack this how you will, but be careful – make a mistake and this piste will punish you!

You should find yourself in Val Claret with a short pole across the flat from the bottom of the race piste to the Tichot lift. Take this lift and head across to the Col Des Ves chairlift. You’ll need a good weather day or this lift will likely be closed. If it is closed, take the Grattalu lift and run all the way back into Val Claret. If the weather gods are shining and the Ves is running you have your first black challenge of the day.

From the top of the lift, tuck in and straight line it to make it across the flat and back up the hill. You will see a fairly identifiable but un-pisted black, named after Les Brevieres very own hero and chalet owner “Guerlain Chicheret”. Be wary of hidden rocks, but on a good day this can be a great test for the advanced skier or boarder. From the bottom of here join back onto “Carline” and head into Val Claret.

Now take the Lanches lift towards the Motte, with the village of Val Claret behind you. From the top of Lanches quickly head down to the Vanoise lift and make your way up again. Once at the top, you have access to one of the longest sweeping runs in the resort and a personal favourite of many of the Chardons team.

Now take the “Dahu” red which runs straight into “Double M”. Avoid the moguls, use the edges, and burn it all the way down to Val Claret.

This should’ve been a good morning warm up and should also have provided a good chance to stop and have a quick coffee or snack. The Sherpa in Val Claret is a good cheap option for coffee and cakes or the Planks store does a quality Espresso at a very reasonable price. Or you could take advantage of Chardons packed lunch service so you can eat as you sit on the mountain side admiring the view.
I would recommend using the rest of the day to fully explore this area and get your bearings / legs sorted. When looking to return back to Les Brevieres, I would suggest taking the “Tichot”, “Grattalu”, “Grand Huit” route home, leaving you with the “Sache” iconic black run all the way from the top back into Les Brevieres.

Day 2:

It’s the second day in resort and your legs are fully warmed up and you’re acclimatised to the conditions. Today is the day to get out and cover some more of the resort. Using whichever way you see fit, make your way to the Funicular for the Grand Motte. Try and get here as early as you can, as the best conditions up here are normally early morning.

Take the Funicular and follow up with the cable car to the very top of the resort – the highest point in the Espace Killy. Here you will likely see some people with ABS bags and harnesses, likely heading off to “The 3500 Couloir”. If you can get a guide and the kit we would highly recommend this route, as long as you’re happy with a couple of hours skin out at the other end. While this is a great route, for this guide we’ll be staying on the piste. Pick whichever route you want, as long as you find yourself back in the village of Val Claret and ready to take the Fresse lift – we’re heading over to Val d’Isere!

From the top of the Fresse, take the “Col Des Fresse” down to the Marmottes chair lift. Hop on this lift and head straight up to the top, from where you can scoot across to the top of the “Coup De Monde”. This run has to be one of the best in the Espace Killy: it has rollers, bends, steeps and flats! Use every ounce of race pedigree you’ve got to navigate this high-speed wonder. (CAUTION: People can be idiots and will stop under blind rollers so be cautious – you can clear head height quite comfortably from some of these rollers and no one wants to be responsible for decapitating another rider, even if they are in the wrong!). You can take this all the way into Le Daille, where you need to hop on another Funicular back to the top.

At the top of the Funicular you will see the sign for the “Face de Bellevarde”. This Iconic run is the pinnacle of Val d’Isere – first you’ll be lured into a false sense of security with a relatively easy flat section at the top into some nice rolling bends which will leave you wondering what’s the fuss. You’ll soon drop over the lip after the thin path and find yourself in true expert territory. Sometimes icy, sometimes moguly, sometimes both. You’ll need to use a variety of techniques to make your way down this true Espace Killy test piece.

Depending on the conditions under foot, your legs have probably taken quite a beating for today, so make your way back to Les Brevieres using the Tommeuses lift and then take whichever run you’d prefer in order to head back for a well-earned drink and some glorious evening food cooked by your dedicated Chardons team.

Day 3:

You’ve tried some of the most iconic runs in the Espace Killy already and you’re now keen to try a bit more that the resort has to offer. So get yourself over to Le Lac and get the Toviere bubble car. From here, for a nice little warm up, you can go down the black “Trolles” run. No doubt you would’ve experienced this run on your way back yesterday evening when it was cut up and icy – so not so nice – but first thing in the morning it can be an absolute beauty.

Do one or two laps of this and then make your way up the Toviere lift to drop over into the Val d’Isere side of the mountain again. Now make your way down to La Daille on whichever run you wish – if you’re looking for a little tree adventure with some moguls to test your bumps skiing then “Trefoillet” can be a great option providing the snow cover is good.

Take a short bus journey from La Daille to the centre of Val d’Isere and jump on the Solaise Express gondola. From the top of the Solaise, look for the Madeline chairlift, which will take you to the top of a run called “Marmottons”.

Arguably the quickest piste you will find in resort, “Marmottons” is often empty and sits in the shade for a vast majority of the day. It is steep, hard packed, steep and icy. I’d advise a well serviced pair of GS/Super G planks, a helmet and a serious amount of bottle. This is a true test for those who say they like it quick, but don’t blame us if it goes wrong! Providing you make it down in one piece, take the Manchet Express back up, then take Glacier Express lift and you’re on the up and over towards Le Fornet.

Once in the wonderful playground of Le Fornet, you’ve got everything you could want: steeps on the glacier, trees, and bumps. Here we would recommend making your way to the un-pisted black run “Foret”. This wonderful little tree lined adventure is great in the fresh and leads you to the Fornet bubble where you can either lap the area again or get the bus back to Val D’isere to head back over to Les Brevieres.

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This guide is by no means a definitive guide to the area, it is just a few cool areas that we at Chardons have come to love over the years spent in this wonderful area. There is of course plenty more to try out and the off piste here is brilliant, but for that you’ll need to get yourself a local guide.

We also don’t want to give away all the best riding in resort – for that you’ll have to get out and explore for yourselves! One of the best things about this resort is there is something for everyone, so get yourselves booked in to one of our beautiful chalets and come and find out which part of the Espace Killy is your little piece of heaven.

Stay safe, ride hard, enjoy your time, and please, please respect the mountain – leave nothing but tracks!

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