Mountains. Where would we be without them? Downhill skiing would be a lot harder, that’s for sure. Mountains cover a staggering 22% of the Earth’s land surface making it one of the most important environments on the planet, and no one appreciates that more than skiers and snowboarders such as you.
In fact, admiring the beauty of the mountainous scenery is one of the major draws for a ski holiday. And some mountains are known for attracting the eye more than others. Here are just five iconic mountains that will take your breath away on your next ski holiday:
1. Black Tusk – Whistler, Canada
The distinctive appearance of Black Tusk near the Canadian ski resort of Whistler is what makes it one of the most popular mountains in British Columbia. A prominent spire formed of volcanic rock thrusts out the top of the mountain. Known as the Bishop’s Mitre, this peak makes the mountain the most identifiable in the region.
Journey to Whistler from Vancouver on the beautiful Sea-to-Sky Highway and Black Tusk looms in the distance, a beacon calling to all skiers and snowboarders. There are no pistes on the slopes of the mountain but its attractive and unique appearance creates a dynamic vista from the top of Whistler Mountain.
The indigenous Squamish people know Black Tusk as the home of the legendary Thunder Bird. The mountain’s iconic appearance is said to have been formed when it was struck by black lightning. As you ski down the slopes of Whistler Mountain, views of Black Tusk will entice you towards the Canadian wilderness to discover its mythical beauty and adventure.
2. Mont Blanc – Chamonix, France
As the tallest mountain in Western Europe, Mont Blanc needs no introduction. At 4,810m, the peak is visible from many of the ski resorts in the Alps, especially in France’s Tarentaise region. However, if you want to get up close and personal with Mont Blanc, there is only one ski resort to visit – Chamonix.
Chamonix is situated at the foot of Mont Blanc, and the mountain dominates the resort. The best views of the mountain are visible from the cable-car stop at l’Aiguille du Midi. From this close perspective, the mountain towers over you, swamping your field of view and giving an excellence sense of the mountain’s sheer scale.
Experienced skiers and snowboarders can ride the Vallee Blanche from l’Aiguille du Midi. The 24km off-piste run down the side of Mont Blanc offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the whole of the Alps. It’s a trip that all dedicated skiers and boarders should do at least once!
3. The Eiger – Grindelwald, Switzerland
The insurmountable North Face of the Eiger is one of the most feared and respected mountains in the mountaineer community. Climbers find the mountain notoriously challenging to ascend. For skiers on the other hand, the mountain is an incredible backdrop to what is already one of the most beautiful ski areas in the world.
The Eiger looms over the ski runs of Grindelwald and Wengen. The massive size of the mountain is often incomprehensible until a paraglider or helicopter swoops towards it and is steadily dwarfed by its hulking mass.
During the summer, you can take the train through tunnels carved into the Eiger, and you can even ski on the Aletsch Glacier along the back of the mountain. The Snow Fun Park at the top train station has a couple of short ski runs accessible by button lift.
4. The Matterhorn – Zermatt, Switzerland
The Matterhorn’s iconic pyramid shape (and regular appearance on Toblerones) has made it one of the most recognisable mountains in the world. While daredevil off-piste skiers are singularly attracted to skiing on the Matterhorn, the mountain has long been synonymous with the popular ski resort of Zermatt.
The mountain is often much larger than visitors to Zermatt might be expecting. At 4,478m tall, it is one of the highest mountains in the Alps, although neighbouring Monte Rosa, the second highest mountain in the Alps, still dwarfs it.
The Matterhorn divides Zermatt from the neighbouring Italian ski resort of Cervinia. During favourable weather conditions, you can ski across the international border, or alternatively head to Chez Vrony. This famous mountain restaurant has amazing views of the Matterhorn from its fabulous sun terrace (the food’s great too).
For the best views of the Matterhorn while skiing head to the top of the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, where you will also find the highest pistes in Europe.
5. Valluga – St Anton, Austria
Valluga, the highest mountain in St Anton, won’t win any awards for its height or for its appearance, neither of which are particularly distinctive. But for skiers and snowboarders in the know, Valluga provides some of the most thrilling skiing in the mountains. Once you reach the top, the mountain falls away from you, providing stunning views across the Austrian Alps.
Red runs carve into Valluga’s snowy bowls, ideal ski terrain for confident, intermediate skiers. However, Valluga is most well-known for its epic off-piste itineraries and the mountain is a mecca for expert freeriders. Incredible, steep slopes into St Anton and near-by Zürs are crossed with lines and on a bluebird day, skiers swamp the mountain in search of a thrilling adventure.
The best view of Valluga is gazing up from the bottom of the mountain, knowing that you have just conquered the mountain. Simply breath-taking!