The Best Undiscovered Ski Resorts in Europe: Helbronner, Italy

Where it's more about skiing than the scene

Mar 8, 2013
Outside Magazine

Punta Helbronner as seen from Pré-Saint Didier.    Photo: Ximonic/Wikimedia Commons

Helbronner sits on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif, just 20 minutes from Chamonix, France, by car. Featuring one lift stretching up the south face of the massif, Helbronner has no groomed runs, no avalanche control, no ski patrol, and no Chamonix-style attitude. What Helbronner does have, though, is long, steep couloirs, huge faces, and glaciers. To access this bounty, take the Funivie Monte Bianco cable car from La Palud—a small village in Italy’s Aosta valley, five minutes from Courmayeur—6,446 feet up to Refugio Torino station. Ski the Toula glacier down to La Pauld, or take the Valle Noir back to Chamonix. The first tram leaves La Palud at 8:30 a.m. and the last cable car at 4:15 p.m.. It’s also possible to access Helbronner from Chamonix’s Aiguille du Midi cable car and to ski the Valle Blanche back to Chamonix. Bring a harness, rope, and avalanche gear, and know how to use them. This is wild, unpatrolled, crevasse-littered terrain, so consider hiring a guide, like Miles and Liz Smart of Smart Mountain Guides. Helbronner is an easy day trip from Chamonix, or stay at the Albergo Dente del Giante in La Palud, about 100 feet from the Funivie Monte Bianco.

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