Courmayeur, Italy

Courmayeur trail map, ItalyMountain Layout—Skiing

Here is a larger, more detailed map.

The major ski area is on the opposite side of the valley from Mont Blanc. Half of the area is centered around the Plan Chécrouit and the other half drops down to the Val Veny. The Plan Chécrouit is a transfer point for the cable cars from the town to the lifts servicing the major ski areas. This ski area is split by a ridge. One side offers a northeast exposure and the other a northwest exposure. After stepping off the cable car there is about a 100-yard walk to the three main lifts that take skiers to the upper slopes. Most skiers will want to head directly to the gondola and go to Col Chécrouit. From there another smaller cable car heads to the Cresta Youla. The skiing from Cresta Youla at almost 8,700 feet is excellent, but the wait for the cable car can take more than half an hour even on relatively good days.

The highest lift arrives at Cresta Arp at 8,954 feet; however, the skiing from that point is for experts only, and only with the assistance of guides. The highest skiable point for the run-of-the-mill skier is the Cresta Youla. From here you can ski a good, tough, intermediate trail that ends up at the base of the cable car. Skiers can then either drop down a long cruising run to the base of the Plan de la Gabba chair lift at about 6,800 feet, or drop down narrower steeper terrain and several cat tracks to Zerotta at about 5,000 feet. Either run will allow you to ski greater vertical than 90 percent of the resorts in North America.

Much of the skiing on the Val Veny side of the ridge is through trees. The drops off the ridge line are relatively steep. Unfortunately, skiers will have to return to town via this cable car or by a short bus ride from the base of the Val Veny lifts. It’s a hassle.

Off-piste adventures include skiing around the back of the Cresta d’Arp and dropping down a wide- open bowl then winding through the Val Veny; or skiers can traverse from Cresta d’Arp to Dolonne or Pré-St-Didier. Skiers with a guide and return transportation can strike out down to La Balme and end up near La Thuile.

Otherwise expect to have a bland intermediate and beginner playground. Real beginners will be a bit cramped with limited facilities at Plan Chécrouit. They may be happier at one of the other baby slopes in Val Veny or below at Dolonne.

The second major skiing area at Courmayeur is Mont Blanc itself. Here a cable car carries skiers in three stages to almost 11,000 feet where they can ski back down toward Courmayeur, over the mountain to Chamonix or take some time skiing on the glacier accompanied by a guide.

Courmayeur snowboarding photo, Courmayeur, ItalyMountain rating
If you are an absolute beginner this is probably a moun-tain you should avoid. Although there are some beginner areas, the terrain is steep enough to take the fun out of ski-ing if you are over your head. For the intermediate this is heaven. There are plenty of semi-steeps to make the in-termediate feel like an expert and enough moguls to keep his or her head from swelling. The expert can find some chal-lenging slopes off-piste. The ski instructors can take ex-perts down slopes that will keep them coming back for more. Even the marked trails are good enough for a good day of cruising.


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