You know they’re out there. The tiny, super-quiet resorts in the middle of nowhere that you’ve never heard of but will result in some of the sickest, purest days of snowboarding you’ve had all season. They’re the hidden gems of the Alps and the places that are passed from person to person by word of mouth rather than flashy marketing campaigns and TV commercials.
Our good buddies over at Onboard have come up with this list of 5 resorts in the Alps that they think are well worth checking out. You may not have come across them before but you’ll you’ll have to take their word for it: they all have a little something special...
[part title="Grasgehren, Germany"]
Allgau is a virtual treasure trove of resorts that are for the most part unknown outside of the German-speaking part of the world, and even Germans themselves are often more inclined to beeline straight for Austria rather than tap into this corner of their own country. The result? A wealth of smaller ski areas that can reward the adventurous rider with some rad terrain, short lift lines and good German beer.
Though it can’t compete in sheer Alpine stakes, Allgau boasts plenty of areas with terrain that – with the right conditions – offers the possibility of super fun powder days with minimal crowds, such is the more family-orientated nature of the resorts. We’ve opted for Grasgehren as it’s tiny (a mere three lifts), yet has the option for some epic powder riding on accessible faces and gulleys and, importantly, is one of the most snowboard-friendly resorts we’ve visited recently.
Thanks to Tajo and his crew at Snowpark Grasgehren, the ever-changing snowpark is loaded with assorted jibs and medium-sized jump and is as close to riding the infamous Yawgoons setup in mainland Europe as you’ll ever find. For an indication of the vibe, you’re more likely to bump into scrawny riders strapped to a Dinosaurs Will Die board than a lardy punter with a GoPro suckered to his boardercross helmet, and the GG crew routinely hold events throughout the winter that are as much an excuse to bro down scoffing burgers and drinking beer as they are about throwing hammers with the homies.
[part title="Les 7 Laux, France"]
The mountains surrounding Grenoble have plenty of well-known resorts – Alp d’Huez and Les Deux Alpes to name but two – but even closer to the French city are some lesser-known spots which can offer more imaginitive snowboarders as good a time as their bigger-named brethren, but with a more low-key vibe.
Take the resort of Les 7 Laux. As the birthplace of the renowned HO5 shaping crew it’s safe to say that the freestyle terrain of this resort is well above par – with four zones catering for everyone from freestyle rookies to hard charging pros plus a dedicated lift you can be sure that, whatever your level, this French resort’s park will cater to your needs. The fact that it is located at 1800 metres means the hits will stay good till late in the season, too.
In terms of general cruising, there is 120km of runs to explore and if it dumps there are plenty of steep faces to charge that are accessible from the lifts or with a short hike, but bear in mind that tree runs are limited. When your day is done there are a few decent watering holes to choose from – try the Saloon for booze or La Sierra for food – and if they don’t cut it you can always try your luck in le big smoke of Grenoble; it’s not even an hour’s drive away.
[part title="Spitzingsee, Germany"]
If you ever find yourself in Munich and don’t fancy the two and something hour drive into the Austrian Alps, Spitzingsee in Southern Bavaria is well worth a look in.
Featuring only a handful of lifts but offering some decent length runs and plenty of off-piste tree-shredding potential, Spitzing is nothing short of epic on a powder day. As a family friendly resort, the pistes can get a little crowded at times, but that only means more untouched snow between the trees to get stuck into.
Spitzingsee also features a Burton sponsored park with a good assortment of kickers and rails, although its low elevation does mean that it’s sometimes not fully set up until January.
If you’re lucky, you may even run into the Onboard crew palming some sneaky powder sneaky laps off as ‘research’…
[part title="Ramsau, Austria"]
Going to Ramsau will leave you with plenty of options for snowboarding way longer than most other resorts. Within a 20 minute drive you’ll get to several resorts ranging from bigger ones like Schladming to smaller and more family-oriented like Hochwurzen or Reiteralm.
Fancy going snowboarding while others are sweating away on the beach? Come April 14th, Dachstein’s glacier will satisfy your every need with the Horsefeathers Superpark – easy, medium and pro lines with boxes, rails and kickers. Look around you and you might find yourself snowboarding next to guys you frequently find standing on the podiums of some of snowboarding’s most celebrated contests. For an extra adrenalin rush we advise you to ride not in but on top of the Dachstein cable car. Do not do this when you’ve spent the night before boozing it up though, because it’s scary as shit and you might throw up on someone.
[part title="St-Luc and Chandolin, Switzerland"]
Located close to the Swiss-French border and Geneva airport, St-Luc and neighbouring Chandolin offer some great on and off-piste snowboarding in a quiet – and thanks to its south facing aspect -often sunny part of Switzerland.
Although by no means the biggest region for snowboarding in the Swiss Alps, St-Luc and Chandolin offer 43 pistes with a total length of around 75 kilometres. While the freestyle side of things is definitely pretty limited, the region offers a wealth of off-piste potential, and thanks to the lack of crowds you’ll be scoring freshies for days. The village is small and peaceful and a great place if you’re looking to get away from the bustle of the city and/or intoxicated apres skiers dancing on tables…
Absinthe Films have been known to shoot segments of their movies in the region and if that’s not enough of an accolade to check it out we don’t really know what is.