Across Europe the ski resorts are now open but the lifts remain shut. This got us thinking… despite the epic feeling of smashing down our favorite ski runs and riding the chairlifts with our friends, there is so much more to ski resorts and the mountains than just downhill skiing and snowboarding.
Whether you are still heading out to your favourite ski resort this December despite some resorts having the lifts closed, or just looking for some inspiration for new activities to do in the mountains, we have compiled a list of our favourite activities to do in the mountains if you don’t ski or snowboard.
Ok we know this is technically still skiing and snowboarding but we know a lot of you that will be taking to the skins and the uphill walk to get your downhill fix whilst the ski resort lifts remain shut. Ski touring and splitboarding is not the best activity for beginners, but for advanced skiers looking to explore the mountains further we couldn’t recommend this enough!
You can read loads more information about ski touring and splitboarding on our blog A Latitude Guide to Ski Touring and Splitboarding.
Always remember to stay safe and if you are ever unsure hire a guide!
A great way to get your fitness fix in the mountains is to give cross country skiing a try! Cross country skiing is completely different from regular skiing in that you have soft boots and skinny skis designed to slot into cross country skiing tracks and to travel quickly across the snow. There are two types of cross country skiing, classic cross-country (skis that move straight) and skate skiing (skis that move laterally like ice skates) Most beginners start out by learning classic skiing.
Most ski resorts have designated areas for cross country skiing with graded paths similar to the green, blue and red runs you are used to seeing on the pistes. Green runs will be less steep have less technical corners and slower downhill sections. We recommend if you have never tried cross country skiing before to start off on a green track!
Most ski hire shops in resort will hire out cross country skiing equipment for the day. We recommend you wrap up warm but with layers you can take off for when you start to get hot!
For the more daring of you some ski resorts offer ice climbing. Ice climbing is similar to regular rock climbing in that there are different grades of climb that you can do. As a beginner you can often book into an ice climbing course or ‘experience’ for the day. You don't need to be an experienced pro or have all the kit before you give ice climbing a go, book in with a guide who will show you the ropes and keep you safe!
If you happen to be in the Portes Du Soliel the crew at Morzine Mountain Cooperative can help you organise your first ice climbing adventure!
Another great way to experience a ski resort and the mountains when you are not skiing is going on a snowshoe adventure. Most resorts will have dedicated snowshoe walking tracks and often you can use the cross country tracks to snowshoe up too! All you need is a decent waterproof pair of walking boots and some warm clothes. You can often hire snowshoes from the local intersport or ski hire shop.
Snowshoeing is a great activity for the whole family as all ages and abilities can enjoy it together and it does not require crazy amounts of fitness but it is greatlow-impact aerobic exercise. Snowshoeing lets you extend your hiking and running season and lets you enjoy solitude in areas that might be crowded in summer.
If you are new to the resort and not sure where to go on your snowshoe adventure then you can hire a guide. We love the snow shoe adventures with Magical Snow Treks. Simone is an experienced mountain leader and will talk you through all the local flora and fauna as you embark on your magical journey.Enjoy a door to door service, a hot drink and a snack, and the use of technical material such as snowshoes and poles!
A classic but a goodie and a goodie for a reason. Pamper yourself and book yourself a massage in the comfort of your own chalet or holiday apartment. In most ski resorts there is a plethora of choice of amazing mobile massage therapists. Nothing beats soothing those muscles and a good old relax!
Check our our recent blog with Martha Perry Massage Therapy on how you can get your body prepped for winter!
Husky sledding is 100% on our wish list this winter. A lot of ski resorts offer husky sledding and we can’t think of a better way to enjoy the mountains. Driven by a professional musher, get tucked up in the sled under a blanket and enjoy this unique way to experience the forests in the alps!
A trip to the mountains does not count if you don’t eat fondue! One of our favourite things to do is an early evening ski tour to one of the mountain refuges on the piste for an evening of wine, fondue and friends. Lit by head torch this is a pretty magical way to experience the mountains!
If you are not comfortable with ski touring or snow snowing up the mountains in the dark, and if the restaurants are not open, another way to enjoy fondue is in the comfort of your own chalet or apartment. Most super markets in your local ski resort often rent out fondue kits for the day. You can visit the local fromagerie who will recommend the best local cheese for your fondue! Don’t forget the wine.. You will need it to cut through all that cheese!
Another activity to do in a ski resort if you are not skiing is ice diving. This is not for the faint hearted or the cold blooded! A lot of ski resorts often have lakes you can walk across / ice skate on and also dive underneath!
Ice diving involved getting kitted up in a dry suit that will keep you warm and dry whilst in the freezing temperatures. Similar to scuba diving, you get hooked up to an oxygen tank and slip into the hole in the ice and dive beneath the surface. This is totally beautiful. The ice is often 1 - 2 metres thick and reforms everyday to produce shapes, shadows and lights that are simply magical seen from under the ice. Pop into the local tourist centre to see if this is available in your ski resort.
Most ski resorts have either an outdoor or indoor ice skating rink, sometimes even both! Rent some skates and release your inner Torvill and Dean for an afternoon! Some resorts also have their own hockey team who throughout the winter will play home matches in the local rink. If you have never been to an ice hockey game before we definitely recommend it! Full of barging, fights, awesome crowds and incredible goals the atmosphere is always amazing
As a small business ourselves we obviously have to suggest that when in your local ski resort you check out the local shops. Often you can find cute little businesses selling local cheese, wine and specialities as well as gift shops and ski and snowboard stores. If you can support local and independent businesses even better! Shops like this in small ski towns really do rely on tourism and the winter tourist season to stay afloat!
Have you found any great ways to enjoy the mountains and ski resorts whilst the lifts are shut? Let us know! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch on our socials.
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