Header: Simon Perry hucking the huge seracs found on the Face Nord du Grande Motte. Credit: Jordan Tiernan
While it may not have the charm or postcard-perfect layout of many of the other resorts scattered around the French Alps, Tignes more than makes up for this with it’s amazing accessibility to some of the finest backcountry skiing out there. While many in the Chamonix valley are packed like sardines in buses to reach different ends of the valley, Tignes is able to offer access to a huge variety of terrain, with lifts encircling the town in every direction.
If you call yourself a backcountry skier / snowboarder, then you need to make the pilgrimage to Tignes at some point – there’s a lifetimes worth of skiing ranging from lift accessible sidecountry to full-on touring missions keeping all levels of skiers frothing.
For the moment when you decide to get yourself out to this cracker of a resort, we’ve brought you our top pick of ten of the best routes to get you going – ranging from the two day backcountry missions to the glorified restaurant trip.
“There’s a lifetimes worth of skiing… keeping all levels of skiers frothing”
Disclaimer: If you’re planning to ski any of these descents, then please ensure you do so in the stable conditions, with the correct equipment (transceiver shovel and probe), partners and correct training to perform avalanche rescue. If you’re unsure of what stable conditions are, then a mountain guide will happily show you.
This guide has also been written assuming good snow conditions on the descents – they’re obviously going to increase in difficulty if you find them in icy conditions.
Equipment: Downhill skis
Looking over Tignes Le Lac are seven perfect looking couloirs that are each split by sandstone ridges running alongside the full length of the couloirs – these, Les Tufs, are a Tignes classic and a must do for any keen off-piste skier or snowboarder visiting the area. Ranging from Tufs 4 on the looker’s right hand side to the longer and steeper Tufs 3 which cuts down the centre of the face, there’ll be something for everyone to have a go at in Les Tufs.
Conditions in the couloirs has a huge impact on the difficulty; you could find them with snow banked up from wall-to-wall, or the complete opposite where there’s not enough snow and large ice falls blocking the route. There are few safe spots to tuck out the way, so keep an eye out for sluff that’ll inevitably be chasing you down the couloir. When you do manage to find Les Tufs in the right conditions, you’ll be hard pushed to find any easier accessible off-piste terrain in the resort.