A short (or long!) weekend break in the mountains might be just the ticket if your winter work schedule is looking busy. Booking a last-minute ski trip gives you great flexibility for off piste skiing too – if you keep your eye on the forecast, you can head for the resort where the off piste conditions and powder are best. We’ve gathered a short list of four top resorts that are an easy flight from London and home to some worthy freeride terrain.
We reckon these are all sure-fire ways to keep your off piste, weekend trip short and sweet, but you can maximise a ski or board weekend anywhere by hiring an off piste guide: their local knowledge will ensure you totally make the most of even the briefest time spent on the mountain! We can recommend you off piste guides all over Europe with at Ongosa.
An off-piste weekend in Engelberg, Switzerland
How: Fly last minute to Zurich Airport, an hour 15 minute transfer.
Why: A weekend in Engelberg ticks all the boxes for town and off-piste ski terrain. Springing up around a Benedictine monastery originally built in 1120, the village itself has all the classic Swiss charm and tradition existing, somehow seamlessly, alongside a prominent party vibe full of skiers celebrating their success on the awesome backcountry it offers. The 3,238m summit of Titlis towers over the resort and provides steeps, glacier runs, cliffs and a 2,000m vertical descent, not to mention the powder fields of Laub, the couloirs of Galtiberg and the tree skiing at Brunni, perfect for any low light days the weekend throws at you.
An off-piste weekend in Lotschental Lauchernalp, Switzerland
How: Fly last minute to Bern and take a two hour transfer, or fly to Geneva and take a two hour 15 minute transfer or train.
Why: Small but perfectly formed, Lauchernalp resort has just seven lifts, 55km of piste and is surrounded on all sides by playful, accessible off piste terrain. Spend your weekend in a resort little known outside of Switzerland, making the charming village a delightful retreat after a busy week in the office. There are plenty of off piste lines to explore and many ski touring routes on this sunny plateau, which just tops 3,000m. Scored with couloirs and cliff drops galore, the face between the top of the Hockenhorngrat cable car and the Sackhorn summit is a freerider’s dream.
An off-piste weekend in Axamer Lizum, Austria
How: Fly last minute to Innsbruck, a 30 minute transfer.
Why: Axamer Lizum is just 20km from Innsbruck and offers up some thrilling freeride opportunities off piste, accessible by lift or on foot. Amuse yourself all weekend on the couloirs and chutes surrounding the resort, or make the tour over the Kalkkogel ridge line and down into to Schlick resort to the south, via any one of several awesome gullies. The resort itself has just ten lifts but there is plenty of playful sidecountry, with the opportunity for fresh tracks often remaining well after a snowfall - no excuses for a truly last-minute weekend trip!
An off-piste weekend in La Clusaz, France
How: Fly last minute to Geneva, an hour 15 minute transfer.
Why: After churning out some seriously crazy talent over the last few years, including Freeride World Tour champs Loic Collomb-Patton and Sebastion Michaud, La Clusaz has earned the right to call itself a freeride destination. There is a variety of exciting off piste terrain and easy hiking with incredible descents. Classic off piste routes to tackle in your weekend include the Combe de Borderan and the Bellachat, with more technical routes residing on L’Etale. Despite being relatively low in altitude, the Aravis range is one of the first to be hit by weather fronts approaching the Alps, meaning great snowfall, which doesn’t get blown off by high altitude winds.