Heli-skiing in Alpe d’Huez, France
Technically heli-skiing has been banned in France since 1985 due topublic outcry over the concerns of the effect of fuel consumption on the delicate ecosystem of the high mountains as well as the impact of noise pollution.
With this in mind and you can overcome your conscience, it is still possible to participate in heli-skiing in some form in France. Firstly skiers in resorts that share a border with Italy or Switzerland, where the activity is still legal, such as Morzine or La Rosière can simply ski over into the neighbouring country and pick up their helicopter their. Other companies offer the service where they are picked up in their French resort, fly a legal transfer to Italy or Switzerland, before being taken up to their drop points in these countries. In Chamonix companies can pick up clients just over the boarder of both Italy and Switzerland.
However another loophole in the system is available. Although being dropped off at the top of the mountain is illegal in France, being picked up at the bottom and transferred back to the resort is not. So it is possible to use the regular lift system in the resort to arrive at the highest point and in certain geographical areas, easily access mostly untouched powder bowls into which regular skiers and snow boarders rarely venture thanks to the time it would take them to return to the resort by foot or ski. Many French helicopter companies are providing the service where, accompanied by a qualified mountain guide, you are escorted through some magical ski terrain to one of their designated pick up points in the valley.
One such resort that provides this service is in Alpe d’Huez. Skiers descending from the Pic Blanc at over 3000meters usually take the impressively long Serrene run back to the resort. Or those a little more adventurous, may take the short ski tour into the Combe du Loup, or the even over the Pyramid. However very few venture into the Glacier du Grand Sablat, aware of the considerable hike it would take to walk out at the bottom. Facing in an easterly direction this valley maintains fantastic snow conditions where other slopes on the l’île au soleil (Island in the sun) sometimes feel the effect of this sunny resort. Bureau des Guides in Alpe d’Huez can provide you with a guide and arrange for the helicopter pick up at the end of this valley, run for around €130 per person.
Alternatively if you plan to stay at Ribot Lodge the owners can help you with the arrangements.