The slopes

  • Extent 1 out of 5
  • Fast lifts 4 out of 5
  • Snow 4 out of 5
  • Queues 4 out of 5
  • Terrain p'ks 2 out of 5
  • Expert 3 out of 5
  • Intermediate 4 out of 5
  • Beginner 1 out of 5
  • Boarder 3 out of 5
  • X-country 3 out of 5
  • Restaurants 4 out of 5
  • Schools 4 out of 5
  • Families 2 out of 5

The resort

  • Resort charm 4 out of 5
  • Convenience 1 out of 5
  • Scenery 4 out of 5
  • Eating out 4 out of 5
  • Apres ski 4 out of 5
  • Off-slope 3 out of 5

Key facts covers:

  • Courmayeur

Key facts

Resort1225 m
Slopes1210-2755 m
Lifts18
Pistes41 km
Price index95

Courmayeur

Italy

Courmayeur

The upside

  • Charming old village; car-free centre with stylish shops and bars
  • Stunning views of Mont Blanc
  • Some good off-piste and heli-skiing
  • Comprehensive snowmaking
  • Some great mountain restaurants

The downside

  • Very small area of pistes
  • Lots of drawbacks for beginners
  • No really tough pistes
  • No runs back to the village
  • Latest user reviews

    I love Courmayeur. The lift system is efficient and…

    Mick Dawson 24 Mar 2009 

    Went here for a boys midweek 4 night ski holiday and…

    alan forrester 29 Mar 2008 

    There is a mistake on the piste map which means that…

    mike cross 17 Mar 2008 

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    News – 2016/17

    The Dzeleuna double chair linking the Checrouit side to the Val Veny side will be replaced by a triple, increasing carrying capacity by two-thirds. The fourth Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience arranged by Momentum Ski and Heston Blumenthal will be held from 17 to 20 March 2017.

    Summary

    Courmayeur is a great place for a short midweek break or for a day trip to escape bad weather in Megève and Chamonix – we have used it for this several times. Excellent restaurants both on and off the mountain plus village bars among the most civilized in the skiing world are important factors for us too. The piste skiing is tricky to recommend for more than a day or two, though, because it best suits competent intermediates, who are likely to have an appetite for mileage that Courmayeur will arouse but not satisfy.

    THE RESORT

    Courmayeur is a traditional old mountaineering village that has retained much of its character.
    La Thuile is an easy drive or bus ride away; Aosta/Pila and Chamonix are not far, and Cervinia and Monterosa are reachable; all are covered by various lift passes.

    Village charm

    Attractive and sophisticated
    The village has a charming traffic-free core of cobbled streets and well-preserved old buildings. As the lifts close, the central Via Roma comes alive: people pile into the many bars, or browse the tempting delis and smart clothes shops – some now have doormen to stop celebrity-spotters, and some are appointment-only at peak times, we’re told; there’s also a good bookshop. An Alpine museum and a statue of a long-dead mountain rescue hero add to the historical feel of the place.
    Away from the centre, there are pleasant woody suburbs but also a lot of conspicuous apartment blocks.

    Convenience

    Buses to the lifts
    A huge cable car on the southern edge of the village takes you to and from Plan Checrouit, at the heart of the slopes. (The cable car is open in the evening too, to serve the bars and restaurants up there.) You cannot ski back to the village, but you can ski to the base of the alternative gondola from Dolonne (across the valley); parking is much easier there, too. You can leave your gear up at Plan Checrouit. You can also access the slopes by cable car from Entrèves, a few miles from Courmayeur; the new cable car up Mont Blanc leaves from here too. Buses serve all lift stations. but many hotels run their own shuttles.

    Scenery

    Mont Blanc rules
    The high glacial slopes of the Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco in Italian) massif overlook Courmayeur’s slopes. The views from the high points at Cresta d’Arp and Cresta Youla, especially, are stunning.

    THE MOUNTAINS

    The slopes above the focal point of Plan Checrouit are mainly wide open, but there are also wooded areas, particularly on the back side of the hill. The piste map now shows lift names and direction.

    Extent of the slopes

    Small and variable
    From the time WTSS started, we were sceptical of the resort’s claimed 100km of pistes. Back in 2012, at last, it revealed that the true extent was 36km of pistes plus 64km of off-piste runs (whatever that means). It has now adjusted the 36km figure to 41km but that is still tiny compared with most big name resorts.
    There are two distinct sectors, separated by a rocky ridge. The links between the two can be a bit confusing. Above Plan Checrouit, the east-facing Checrouit area, accessed mainly by the Checrouit gondola, catches the morning sun. The 20-person Youla cable car goes to the top of the pistes. A further tiny cable car to Cresta d’Arp serves only long off-piste runs.
    Most people follow the sun over to the north-west-facing slopes of Val Veny in the afternoon. These offer a mix of open and wooded slopes, with great views of Mont Blanc and its glaciers. The Val Veny slopes are also accessible by cable car from Entrèves, a few miles outside Courmayeur.
    Entrèves is also the starting point for the new cable car to Punta Helbronner, at the shoulder of Mont Blanc. This accesses the famous Vallée Blanche run to Chamonix and avoids the scary ridge walk that forms the start if you ride the cable car from Chamonix; but it also means you miss out on the chance to ski some of the more interesting and steeper variants of the run. It also accesses tougher off-piste runs on the Italian side of Mont Blanc – notably the Toula glacier run. Obviously all these glacier runs require guidance and safety equipment. There are buses back from Chamonix.

    Fast lifts

    A decent network
    The main access lifts are cable cars or a gondola. On the hill, there are fast lifts in all the key spots.

    Queues

    Much improved
    Queues are generally not a problem except on busy weekends. Queues to descend at the end of the day have been eased by the evening opening of the cable car. On the back of the hill, Zerotta is a real bottleneck – we’ve waited 15 minutes here in March. It’s worth waiting until late afternoon to ride the Youla cable car.

    Terrain parks

    There is one
    The park is claimed to be suitable for both beginner and advanced freestylers. And thre’s an airbag to practice your jumps into. See www.courmayeurmontblanc.it/en/courmayeur-mont-blanc-ski-area-snow-park

    Snow reliability

    Good for most of the season
    Courmayeur’s slopes are not high – mostly between 1700m and 2250m. Those above Val Veny face north or north-west, so they keep their snow well, but the Plan Checrouit side is too sunny for comfort in late season. There is snowmaking on most main runs, including the red run to the valley. So good coverage in early and mid season is virtually assured – we’ve been there in a snow drought and enjoyed decent skiing entirely on artificial snow. Grooming is good.


    The terrain offers lots of exciting off-piste runs © Courmayeur TO/Alessandro Belluscio

    For experts

    Off-piste is the challenge
    Courmayeur has few challenging pistes. The black runs on the Val Veny side are not severe, but moguls are allowed to develop. If you’re lucky enough to find fresh powder, you can have fantastic fun among the trees.
    Classic off-piste runs go from Cresta d’Arp, at the top of the lift network, in three directions: a clockwise loop via Arp Vieille to Val Veny, with close-up views of the Miage glacier; east down a deserted valley to Dolonne or Pré-St-Didier; or south through the Youla gorge to La Balme, near La Thuile.
    The off-piste possibilities on Mont Blanc are considerable, some mentioned in ‘Extent of the slopes’, above. A day trip to Chamonix, for both pistes and off-piste, is appealing.
    There are also heli-drops, including a wonderful 20km run from the Ruitor glacier that ends near Ste-Foy in France – you take a taxi from there to La Rosière, ride the lifts back up from there and descend to La Thuile (then take another taxi back).

    For intermediates

    Good reds, but limited extent
    It’s an intermediate’s mountain, for sure, laced with interestingly varied, genuine red runs. But it is small; the avid piste-basher will ski it in a day. There are a few good long runs – it’s 700m vertical from Col Checrouit to Zerotta, and an impressive 1400m vertical from Cresta Youla to Dolonne. On the steeper Val Veny side of the ridge there are challenges to be found – while the reds and blues cut across the mountain, a row of easy blacks go down more directly.
    For the timid intermediate, on the other hand, the area is short of confidence-building blue runs. There is just one long blue on the Col Checrouit side of the ridge and a couple on the Val Veny side (which is better for the challenge-averse). Many of the reds – particularly up around Col Checrouit and down to Plan Checrouit – do have the merit that they are generally wide.

    For beginners

    Lots of drawbacks
    To get to the free beginner lifts (at Plan Checrouit, on the ridge above there and at the top of the Val Veny cable car from Entrèves) you have the hassle and cost of getting up the mountain. The best starting point is the Val Veny cable car, which takes you to a moving carpet, and easy longer runs on the Peindeint chair. There is a clear lack of other easy longer runs to progress to.

    For boarders

    Mainly intermediate fun
    Courmayeur’s pistes suit intermediates well, and most areas are accessible by cable cars, chairs and gondolas (though the beginner slopes have drags). For the more adventurous, there are off-piste routes.

    For cross-country

    Beautiful trails
    There are about 35km of trails. The best are the five covering 20km at Val Ferret, served by bus.

    For families

    Some facilities
    The Monte Bianco ski school runs a nursery for children up to age 10; see www.scuolascimontebianco.com/en/miniclub/.

    Blogs, features and news

    Map unavailable.

    The slopes

    • Extent 1 out of 5
    • Fast lifts 4 out of 5
    • Snow 4 out of 5
    • Queues 4 out of 5
    • Terrain p'ks 2 out of 5
    • Expert 3 out of 5
    • Intermediate 4 out of 5
    • Beginner 1 out of 5
    • Boarder 3 out of 5
    • X-country 3 out of 5
    • Restaurants 4 out of 5
    • Schools 4 out of 5
    • Families 2 out of 5

    The resort

    • Resort charm 4 out of 5
    • Convenience 1 out of 5
    • Scenery 4 out of 5
    • Eating out 4 out of 5
    • Apres ski 4 out of 5
    • Off-slope 3 out of 5

    Key facts covers:

    • Courmayeur

    Key facts

    Resort1225 m
    Slopes1210-2755 m
    Lifts18
    Pistes41 km
    Price index95