La Clusaz - slopes
The skiing at La Clusaz is spread across 5 peaks – Beauregard, La Croix Fry-Manigod-Merdassier, L'Etale, L'Aiguille and Balme – with 132km of groomed runs. Between the 5 sectors, there is a wide variety of slopes – from flattering tree-lined pistes to steeper stuff both above and below the treeline. The nature of the terrain means a modest covering of snow is enough for skiing to be possible.
Much of the off-piste can be reached easily from the top lift stations, with very little strenuous climbing involved.
La Balme, furthest from the village and reached by gondola and served by 2 chairlifts and a drag, has much of the best skiing and is particularly popular with boarders and free-riders. Some good off-piste runs start from here. The Fernuy gondola connects La Balme with some excellent slopes at l’Aiguille.
Beauregard is nearest to the village, and has some good cruising as well as decent tree skiing. Behind Beauregard are the Croix-Fry Manigod Merdassier slopes – mostly gentle blue runs with a couple of modest reds – ideal for families and novices looking for the next challenge. Closely connected, however, are the considerably more testing and exposed slopes of l'Etale.
The Aravis lift pass also covers the 88km of slopes at neighbouring Le Grand Bornand.
Ski highlights for all levels
Beginners: you’ll find nursery lifts just by the resort. But even better are the beginner slopes near the top of the Beauregard gondola. There is a sunny plateau here with some green and blue runs. A gentle blue descends to the village.
Intermediates: La Clusaz is Nirvana for intermediates. The various peaks even seem organised nicely in order, with gentle warm-up slopes on Beauregard, the nearest, with more on La Croix Fry at Manigod. More of a challenge is available on L’Etale and l’Aiguille, while the more confident can try their skills on the steeper red slopes of La Balme.
Experts: at first glance the piste map doesn't look encouraging for advanced and expert skiers. Don't panic. Even on piste there is fun to be had at La Balme, including the seriously steep black Vraille run. On L'Etale, the Tetras and Mur d'Edgar justify their grading as blacks.
And when the snow is good there is plenty of off-piste – take a guide, both for safety and to make sure you get to the best slopes. Because so many visitors are seeking family skiing, you're very likely to find fresh tracks even days after new snow.
Ski schools and guides
The Ecole du Ski Francais (00 33 45 002 40 83) has up to 150 instructors working on busy weeks, while the Aravis Challenge school (00 33 45 002 81 29) is small and specialises in off-piste guiding. Snow-Acadamie (00 33 45 032 66 05) specialises in teaching snowboarding and you can also visit the Bureau des Guides for off-piste guiding.
Snow reliability and snowmaking
As with many resorts, La Clusaz has been spending a lot on snowmaking installations – a wise investment as the resort is not particularly high.
There is a terrain park on L'Aiguille, with the usual jumps, tables and rails, plus a super-pipe and boardercross.