Snowboarding in Les Deux Alps

Words: Dirk van den Berg ǀ Photos: Various Photographers | Video: Albert van der Wat & Dirk van den Berg

Don't you just love that liberating feeling you get when you activate your ‘out of office’ reply: "…. I will be out of the office with no access to my cell or email …" Nod if you can relate?

Snowboarding in Les Deux Alps

If you are like me, it really doesn’t matter where you are going or what you plan to do, as long as you can get out of the house, suburb, province, and heck, even out of the country! I had the pleasure of activating my out of office to go snowboarding in France with some friends - and there was no way my boss was getting hold of me there!

Months of anticipation saw our once sporadic communication grow ever more frequent. Formal emails filled with mundane travel arrangements, visa applications, and payment details suddenly started to give way to excited WhatsApp chatter and Facebook comments. We were more psyched up than the blue-faced Scotsman in Braveheart! Before I knew what hit me, I was ordering champagne on a ridiculously large Airbus A380 and heading for Les Deux Alps, in France, for a week of snowboarding and fun!

Our group consisted of an amusing mix of people. There were complete novices to the more advanced snowboarders and skiers, with the inevitable jokes and arguments from both sides regarding which discipline is best. I think we settled on the following: skiers go faster and snowboarders have more fun. We also had engineers, some young corporates, teenagers, and grandmothers, and then there was an ex-Tequila rep and Café Mexico's owner, who sold the most tequila in South Africa last year … hence a party really was unavoidable. We had heaps of snow, which meant excellent conditions, specifically deep, soft powder and the ability to have some serious off piste action. So, for the next week, we hit the slopes daily and partied nightly.

Snowboarding in Les Deux Alps

About the resort
The name Les Deux Alpes translates to 'the two Alps' and refers to two glaciers on the mountain range in which the ski town resides. At 3,600 metres above sea level, the two glaciers are high enough and cold enough to support snow throughout the year. This makes the resort unique in that it is possible to ski all year round. The town itself is much lower, at a more manageable height of 1,300 metres above sea level, roughly the altitude of Pretoria. Well known as having an exceptionally good après-ski (after ski party), there's an abundance of bars, clubs, and lively restaurants scattered all over the resort.

The resort has quite a few interesting accolades to its name. It offers 100 runs, which convert to approximately 220 km of marked pistes, a 2,300 metre height differential from top to bottom, 51 ski lifts of various shapes and sizes, and 214 snow cannons to add a bit of snow in the lower sections when the temperature starts to creep up at the end of the season. It also has one of the most modern lift systems in Europe, the highest funicular (underground train) in the world, and the fastest gondola in the world.

The views are spectacular, especially from the glaciers, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it will blow your mind! So do take your camera with you. Just remember to keep it warm, as lithium ion batteries have a tendency to freeze rather easily when exposed to those cold temperatures.

Then there is the snow park. This truly is the playground on the slopes and the best thing is that there are two of them. On the one side you have your normal small to medium jumps, fun boxes, rails, and a half-pipe for novice to intermediate riders who just want to have fun or practise their jumps. The second snow park is for the really advanced guys and gals. It has jaw-dropping jumps that give those who attempt it a ridiculous amount of air time and are the type of jumps you see at the X Games. It's all inspiring to see people land those insane jumps and going down those jumps can only result in either indescribable glory or pain.

One thing worth mentioning is the fact that the resort is really well run.

They have thought of everything and even offer a world-class app for your smartphone that will locate you on the slopes and provide you with all the relevant information on piste layouts, restaurants, bars, ski lifts, weather, webcams, and more.

Lastly, the resort offers a giant inflatable stunt cushion at the end of a steep ramp that enables you to practise those big-air tricks. It provided us with our fair share of exhilaration and laughter, as we watched each other attempt the big jumps. There were some funny screams and utterances that I can’t mention here, but then again we can always just replay the video evidence J. Perhaps the funniest scene was the ramp operator who walked up to a member of our groups, who had just wiped out in spectacular fashion on the ramp itself, and gave him his money back after stating that that was the most remarkable fail of the season. He was asked not to try again.

So if you have an insatiable affliction for the white stuff, this would be a brilliant destination to visit.

If you want to know what all the fuss is about, check out the video from last year when Dirk and friends went to another resort in France called Tignes. If this video does not convince you to go, then nothing will.

If you feel it’s time to tick a ski holiday off your bucket list, Dirk recommends visiting the following websites:,