© Luke Jarmey
Off-Piste Skiing in Brevent & Flegere
The ski area of Le Brevent and La Flegere is one of the quieter areas on a powder day and makes it a favourite of locals for that very reason.
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One favourite off-piste area is the ridge at the top of Brevent, which requires a little bit of hiking, but then gives you the option of dropping into various steep chutes above the Charles Bozon piste. The steepness of these chutes makes them avalanche prone so take care. Falling here could result in a drop over cliffs, or an avalanche that could take out skiers below. You get to this area by taking the top Brevent cable car and then following the Bozon run down until it turns sharply to the right. Here, take a left under the avalanche warning rope; passing this means you need to be responsible for yourself and others, be equipped and know what you’re doing. Following the ridge, there are a few sections that go uphill and so you'll have to walk a little bit. Depending how far you go there are various narrow couloirs that drop down to the right. After a 10-15 minute hike along the back of the ridge you reach the Col de Brevent, an open col with views on the right down to the Bozon piste and Chamonix Village immediately below - another one of our favourite runs with plenty of steep and deep stuff to amuse you. The snow is usually good here for a few days after a fresh dump but will get unstable if the sun gets to work on it and the temperature rises, so you shouldn't do this run late in the afternoon on warm days. In the spring you’ll see the pisteurs setting off controlled avalanches on these slopes.
The terrain of Flegere is also superb for off-piste skiing. The main Flegere bowl offers some of the best freeride terrain that Chamonix has on offer. The natural undulating terrain makes it great for natural table tops, quarter pipes and half pipes and in fact, the whole bowl is pretty much rideable with only a few exceptions. The snow often remains very good at this altitude, however, it is good to stay alert as this section has hidden rollovers, some of which lead onto very large cliff drops so we recommend that you don’t go skiing over things before you’ve checked where they go. Only enter this off-piste area in good visibility and once you already have a good idea of where you are going.
On a fresh powder day, it is best to try and catch the first Flegere cable car up from Les Praz to get those all important first tracks. The Index chairlift makes getting into the Combe Lachenal easy, as it drops you right at the top of the bowl. Take a left (skier’s right) from the chairlift into the bowl, pay attention to any warning barriers as this area is avalanche prone. Make sure you are fully equipped, trained and avalanche aware.
The bowl is vast with only one piste running down the middle. You can select to traverse out either left or right to get fresh tracks, and generally, it takes a long time before this bowl is truly tracked out. If you traverse out skiers’ right be sure not to go so far that you can’t get back to the piste at the bottom that will take you back to the Evettes chairlift (you may find yourself heading down to Les Praz via the main avalanche chute if you stray too far off the beaten track!).
If you traverse left about halfway down you’ll find a small hidden bowl that keeps the ‘freshies’ longer than the main bowl. The terrain is great for freeriding with wide open sections at the top. Lower down there are small chutes and drops to the right, rollers and trees to the left.
The area to the right (skier’s left) of the Index chairlift also has some superb off-piste with longer runs possible. Head out below the old Index lift building and work your way down the mountain. Along here you’ll find cornices where you can drop in, and wide open slopes where you can let rip before heading down towards the Trappe chairlift that takes you back to the Index lift.
The area between the Floria piste and the Pylones piste is a massive ungroomed area that has enough excitement to keep you coming back run after run, each time discovering another hidden stash of fresh snow. You can also access some of the great off-piste conditions to the right of the Index chair by using access from the bottom of the Floria lift. We would reiterate that we are extremely careful in this sector above the Chavanne chairlift as this area has many roll overs as we discussed above, some of which lead to large cliff drops. Make sure you can see your route down the mountain before you take off at top speed.
If you’re trying off-piste for the first time, the area under the Trappe chair has some fun terrain. Trees and good snow will give you a good taste of the off-piste without straying too far from the green runs.
Above the Trappe green run, there are a couple of steep, narrow couloirs visible to the right as you get to the top on the ride up the Trappe chairlift. They start out wide and flat but quickly become steep and narrow so probably best not attempted if the snow is hard and icy but in good snow they offer a real buzz and are a true technical test of your ability. We get to these from the Pylones piste, by heading skier's left just before you get to the flat section near the bottom of the run.
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