Once you've exhausted the coloured pistes there's only one place left to go: off-piste.
And for experienced skiers off to the Alps this winter, the Vallee Blanche is the route of choice. It's long (17km) and difficult; but unlike more extreme routes, it is very doable.
But don’t get any mad ideas about doing it solo, just yet. Guides are essential and local knowledge invaluable – this route has its dangers, as many a foolish novice has found out.
Tempted? Here’s our guide to skiing the Vallee Blanche.
First, book your guide. Depending on the conditions, guides will work with up to eight skiers at a time – the worse the weather, the smaller the group.
Then it’s into the cable car for the first part. Ok, you’re not skiing yet, but this is a fantastic ascent and helps you get the perspective of what you are about to do - the time for turning back has now gone.
Out of the car and you will have to ‘rope down’ to the start. Apart from being necessary so you can start the run, it’s a reflection of what you are undertaking. This is off-piste, adventurous, a little dangerous, and very different from the familiar slopes you may have recently graduated from.
Ahead of you is up to 20kms of the best off-piste skiing!
Stage1: Facing Mont Blanc. It’s down the wide face and onto the col du Midi toward Le Gros Rognon, a large rock outcrop, before following the cliffs of the Mont Blanc du Tacul. The top of the route is fairly smooth, part of the Glacier du Géant, that is until you reach the Seracs...
Stage2: Seracs and cracks. The glacier breaks up and you’ll get funnelled into chutes to bypass the crevasses. Expect moguls and more skiers, as it’s here several routes come together. Once it’s done, it’s likely to be time for lunch, and there’s the option of hiking 5km to the Refuge de Requin or tucking into your supplies.
Stage3: Mer de Glace: Time to drop into the valley and zig-zag your way to the end of the glacier. Not that the route ends here. Sometimes you can continue, following the track all the way back to town.
Fancy doing it again? Try taking the cable car from the Italian side of the mountain (Helbronner) and you’ll take a fresh route for the first part before joining the Classic route near the Geant glacier.
Winter is upon us and for those searching for a skiing holiday, it’s make your mind up time!
Have you skied the Vallee Blanche? Got some hairy skiing stories to tell? Tell them here…