Few things in life are certain. One sure thing is an abundance of families in the snowy Alps during half-term break. The influx of holidaymakers can drain away the joy of a ski holiday, but there are steps you can take to maximise your time on the snow regardless of the masses.
1. Pick a small resort
Smaller resorts tend to be less crowded because they’re overlooked in favour of big resorts with more restaurants, entertainment and amenities. However, if skiing is what you want, small resorts are perfect. Queues, if any, will be shorter, and runs tend to stay in top condition due to fewer people chopping them up. Ski passes, chalets, restaurants and services are likely to be cheaper than in the bigger resorts, which means you get to enjoy the same snowy goodness for much less.
2. Try a different sport
Another way to avoid spending all day in chairlift queues is to try a new sport. Great at snowboarding? Try skiing? Able to ski well? Try snowboarding or telemarking. Learning will slow you down during each descent, which means you spend more time on the snow each run down and less time stressing out in queues. For something completely different, avoid queues altogether by trying Nordic skiing.
3. Take a lesson
What better way to beat the queues than to go right to the front of them with a ski instructor? You’ll get more runs in each day, and your technique will be nurtured by a professional. And remember, the ski instructors ski in their home resorts every day, so they know where the good snow is in the mornings and in the afternoons. The price of a lesson now seems pretty reasonable, right?
4. Start late
Let’s face it; everyone aims to start their day skiing as soon as the lifts open. Far fewer finish just before the lifts close. Sore feet, cold hands, post-lunch drowsiness and the lure of the pub all play their part in reducing the number of skiers zooming down the mountain in the afternoons. Rather than racing out for first lifts, enjoy a sleep-in and a long, lazy breakfast, and then head out later. Your breakfast will keep you fuelled up through the lunchtime lull, when those early-morning skiers are eating. The queues should keep getting shorter through the afternoon. Best of all, your last run of the day is guaranteed to be quieter than any run at the start of the day.
5. Research that map
The ski lifts closest to a resort’s centre are likely to be the busiest. Grab a ski map of the area and take note of lifts farther away. Chances are they will be less crowded, which may also mean better snow. Ask the staff at the tourist office or ticket desk for any tips on hidden spots too.