Get the Heart Racing: Five Adrenaline-Fuelled Experiences to Try This Winter

Snowboard brand Burton once released a film called For Right or Wrong - the idea being that there was no such thing when it comes to snowboarding. The same could be said of winter holidays more generally. Whether you’re a sedate blue-run cruiser or a seasoned off-piste enthusiast, there is no correct way to enjoy the mountains.

Having said that, there are certain resorts that are better suited to certain kinds of people. If you’re a complete beginner, for example, you’ll need somewhere with lots of green runs. If you’re a ‘two pistes, one pint’ sort of skier, you’ll want wide blues, and plenty of mountain restaurants. And if you’re an adrenaline enthusiast looking to push your boundaries and try something new this winter? Well, you could do a lot worse than head to one of the following resorts to try something new.

Try Ski Cross in Arêches-Beaufort or Val Thorens

Ski cross is arguably the most exciting Olympic discipline going: an all-out, no-holds-barred race to the finish line over jumps, whoops and banked turns. Contact between riders isn’t necessarily encouraged, but it’s definitely not illegal either. The small resort of Arêches-Beaufort is a great place to try it yourself, with four ski cross courses catering for different ability levels, and lessons available (External link) . Another great place to is Val Thorens, which will host the opening stage of this winter’s FIS Ski Cross World Cup (External link) . Among the expected racers is local hero Jean-Frédéric Chapuis, who won the World Champs in 2013, and took Olympic gold in Sochi the following year.

Get an Introduction to Freeride in Les 2 Alpes

Venturing off-piste for the first time can seem daunting and it’s undoubtedly dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Which is why Les 2 Alpes (External link) is offering freeride training sessions this winter. Taking place every Tuesday, these free classes will talk you through the risks, and give you a lesson in using the essential safety equipment (beacon, shovel and probe) that you’ll need to venture into the backcountry. There will also be rides led by professional guides to get you going. If freeriding is something you’d like to try, this is a great place to start.

Try One of These Advanced Freeride Spots

Obviously backcountry skills aren’t something you can learn overnight, but if you’re a capable skier the French Alps are arguably the best place in the world to explore freeriding. Saint-Foy (External link) in the Tarantaise valley, for example, has plenty of lift-accessed slopes, but the real reason it’s earned its reputation are the long off-piste descents from the back of the top lifts.

The small village of Bonneval-sur-Arc (External link) , at the head of the neighbouring Maurienne valley, offers almost unparalleled access to this lesser-known powdery paradise, while La Clusaz (External link) , where local hero Candide Thovex learned his freeriding chops, is another oft-overlooked option. This winter the La Clusaz UCPA are offering week-long sessions aimed at skiers of different ability levels. All of these, of course, are guided - because the golden rule of any off-piste exploration is always book a guide.

Try Ice Diving in Chamrousse

Chamrousse (External link) , the hidden gem of a resort closest to Grenoble, is full of surprises, and there can be few more unusual than what’s on offer this winter: ice diving. It might normally be associated with the Arctic Ocean, but locals have discovered that Chamrousse’s frozen lakes can provide a unique ice-diving experience more than 2,000 metres above sea level. With classes to suit everyone from seasoned divers to debutantes, this offers a chance to see the play of mountain light through ice and water, providing a show you’re unlikely to ever forget.

Scale a Frozen Waterfall in Alpe d’Huez or Lans-en-Vercours

Ice climbing might sound like the preserve of Himalayan climbers, but there are plenty of places in the Alps where you can safely give it a go. One of the best is the frozen waterfall in Oz-en-Oisans (External link) , one of the villages which make up the vast, lift-linked area of Alpe d’Huez. The ‘Autumn Symphony’, a 70-metre-high waterfall, is a brilliant place to start, under the eye of a trained instructor of course. But even the most seasoned ice climbers would have to admit that the abseil back down, with the sunset glinting off the ice, is pretty spectacular.

Another great spot for beginners is Lans-en-Vercours, where there’s a stunning frozen waterfall just 400 metres from the centre of town. Easy to access, with a whole host of different routes catering for everyone from beginners to experts, this is a great place to get stuck in - quite literally, once you’ve got your crampons and ice axes.