Cool Factor: La Grave is regarded as one of the premier steep skiing resorts in the world. Its reputation has grown tremendously in the past 15 years, due in no small part to the work of the late great Doug Coombs and his wife Emily. The word got out to the States after they began their Steep Skiing Camps and quickly La Grave became the place for skiers who wanted to take the step from backcountry skiing into the world of ski mountaineering. The lift, the only lift at La Grave, is a five-car telepherique gondola that was built back in 1976.
Why Wait: Highly knowledgeable guides at your service, a reputation for epic couloirs, and the chance for a Euro heli-run make this place beyond cool. The guides can get you into anything you can handle, and might even push you to ski something you would otherwise pass on, and the 13,065 foot La Meige that rises adjacent to La Grave is one of the more spectacular peaks you'll ever set your eyes on. La Grave really isn't a ski area at all, but if you happen to catch it on a powder day you'll see the same sort of early morning line-up that you'll see at Jackson and Squaw. Locals and visitors alike wait for dibs on the four-car gondola and while many of them will be trying to get into one of the many famed couloirs first, just as many will be lined up so they can dart out of the Telepherique and dive right into over 7,000 feet of turns. If you think a non-stop run off KT-22 or the Tram at Jackson is tough in deep powder, try it at La Grave.
Ask a Local: Ptor Spricenieks on turning down a chance to film for a day because La Grave had been closed and he wanted his "heli-run:” “The téléphérique [had] been closed by a major storm for three days. I wouldn’t have missed that first lift on a bluebird morning for anything.” -Brennan Lagasse