My favourite resorts in France
- Les 7 Laux - its near (50 mins from Grenoble), its relatively quiet, its trees offer protection from the winds and it has great backcountry.
- La Grave - the only ungroomed resort in Europe, where the mountain can be discovered in all its unbridled glory and fury
Turning to the dark side
If you haven't tried it already, I really recommend snowboaring. Its easy, fun and so exciting that it quickly becomes addictive! However, if you do try it, here are a few words of advice:
- Get a professional instructor (at least for the first couple of lessons) - many people (especially those who aren't familiar with the dangers of mountains and winter sports) think that you can simply teach yourself. OK, you can to a certain extent but you're very likely to pick-up bad habits that'll be difficult to loose later on. Not to mention the increased risk of injury to yourself, your board and others.
- No its not that painful - I've seen/heard so many people abandon snowboarding simply because it was too painful. It is true that to a certain extent that learning to snowboard can be painful experience, but then again, so is learning to ski (which IMHO requires a great deal more technique). May I point-out that most of these people didn't have a proper instructor.
- Hey! I'm no millionaire - today's manufacturer offer a full range of snowboards to suit everyone's wallet. While prices are still generally a little higher than ski equipment, the arrival of the big name manufacturers has forced down prices considerably over the last couple of years. If you can afford to ski, you can pretty much afford to snowboard.
- Backcountry - for me this is the purest form of snowboarding but
its also the hardest and the most dangerous. So my advice is:
- keep fit - cardio rather than weights and know your limits
- invest in proper equipment (avalanche transceiver, avalanche probe, shovel, survival blanket) + train regularly (at least twice a season) with your gear
- know and respect your environment:
- the weather
- the terrain
- the avalanche report
- your buddies
- never trek and surf backcountry alone
- don't be afraid to take a guide (if you're in and around Grenoble, I recommend this qualified mountain guide)