The 10 Best Ski Panoramas
You'll feel like you're on top of the world in these spectacular settings, says Patrick Thorne
Saturday 16 October 2010
The Swiss Jungfrau is one of the world's most spectacular natural areas. The views from virtually every point in car-free Wengen (00 41 33 855 1414; myjungfrau.ch), positioned on a sunny "balcony" above the Lauterbrunnen Valley, are awesome in their majesty. The massive Mönch (4,107m), Eiger (3,970m) and Jungfrau (4,158m) peaks towering above are the main features in the landscape.
The views of the Matterhorn from Zermatt (00 41 27 966 81 00; zermatt.ch) are probably the best known in world skiing, as the image of the mountain has been captured for countless product logos and advertising campaigns. However, as with all these great views, if you visit in winter and the weather's bad, you might never see it. Then again, there's always next year.
Nevis Range, Scotland
Since 1989, a gondola has lifted skiers on to the slopes of Nevis Range (01397 705825; nevisrange.co.uk) on Aonach Mor, just next to Ben Nevis, for some excellent skiing as well as a breathtaking vista on the descent, particularly over to the left, where there's a view out over the coast to the sea (a rare sight from a ski slope). The Great Glen, to the right, is pretty impressive, too.
Lake Louise, Canada
Up close, Lake Louise in Alberta probably looks better in summer than winter, when it's frozen hard and grey. But if you travel a few kilometres back across the Trans-Canada Highway to the resort's ski area (001 403 522 3555; skilouise.com), the lake is put into context. Surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, including Mount Temple (3,543m), it is an awesome sight.
Japan has more than 500 ski areas. The one that draws the most sightseeing skiers, despite having only four chairlifts and seven pistes, is Fujiten (00 81 555 85 2000; snowjapan.com). The reason: its superb views of Mount Fuji, which dominates the skyline.
SnowWorld Landgraaf, Holland
The fact that the world's largest indoor snow centre (00 31 45 5470 700; snowworld.com) is a 550m-long metal fridge built on a reclaimed slag heap not far from Germany's industrial heartland doesn't bode well for scenic views. However, there are windows at the top and, thanks to the flatness of much of the surrounding land, you can see for more than 30 miles in any direction on a clear day, with plenty of woodland and rolling hills, and several hundred wind turbines.
Val Cenis. France
Val Cenis (00 33 4 79 05 23 66; valcenis.com) in the Haute-Maurienne Valley of the Savoie department has been dramatically improved in recent years, with a host of modern chairlifts replacing old drags and linking formerly separate ski areas together. At the same time, the resort has maintained its traditional ambience. There are fantastic views out towards Italy from the top of the La Met chairlift at 2,800m. The mountainscape here includes the impressive Lac du Mont Cenis.
Most ski resorts in the Dolomites offer great views of the pink precipices towering above. However, the 8.5km run down from the Lagazuoi cable car, reached from Armentarola (00 39 0471 836176; altabadia.org), provides first a fabulous 360-degree panorama, followed by great views at every turn in the piste all the way down through 1,200 vertical metres. At the bottom you can take a horse-drawn sleigh back to your starting point.
Heavenly (001 775 586 7000; skiheavenly.com) has the biggest lift-served vertical on the western coast of the United States. From the top of it you look down on beautiful blue Lake Tahoe, North America's largest alpine lake – 35km long, 19km wide and 501m deep – with California on one side and Nevada on the other.
Vallée Blanche, France
You need a good head for heights and the ability to walk a few hundred metres in your ski boots on a sloping, narrow icy arête carrying your skis to reach it. You also need to be at least a good intermediate skier and employ a guide to get down safely. But for the thousand or so people skiing it each day in peak season, the Vallée Blanche above Chamonix is the world's most glorious ski run, with incredible glacial scenery in marvellous isolation (00 33 4 50 53 00 24; chamonix.com).
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