A lot has to be said about the access that you can get to steep terrain in Tignes. You can go from starting off with a coffee down in Planks Coffee in Val Claret and get yourself into some pretty serious terrain within 30 minutes after finishing your morning coffee, which is something I truly love about European resorts & having spent a lot of time hiking through thick bush in order to ski similar terrain in New Zealand, I’ve really learnt that we’re so lucky with accessibility right here.
Chamonix is quite rightly considered the Mecca for steep skiing around the world, with skiers testing themselves amongst some of the best steep terrain in the world, but this status is also detrimental (for me) towards Chamonix. I love how Tignes' steep skiing lines are rarely visited/tracked and you’re frequently the first person into a certain descent for the season - you really have that wild feeling. I love spending time skiing in Chamonix, but I’d happily take a day skiing steeps in and around Tignes over skiing elbow to elbow with other skiers in similar lines over in Chamonix (take my very obvious bias with a pinch of salt!).
I’m lucky to share this crazy life with a partner with pretty much exactly the same passions as myself (although she prefers to slide sideways!), travelling the world skiing in some pretty awesome places. After a few near misses and a close call which was way too close for comfort, we’ve both developed a pretty similar acceptance to risk and are happy to turn around and say ‘maybe another time’ when conditions dictate, it’s ideal to have a solid partnership when skiing steep terrain in the mountains and I’m lucky enough to share some pretty cool descents with Holly - both in Europe and New Zealand.
My job allows me rack up tonnes of ski time during both the northern and summer hemisphere winter seasons. I manage a heliski operation based in Tignes - Val Heliski during the northern winter and work for Southern Lakes Heliski during the southern winter, giving me loads of time working alongside some extremely experienced guides both sides of the equator - I am always trying to absorb as much of their knowledge as possible when working alongside them as I am hoping to head down the UIAGM (IFMGA) pathway when the time is right.
The guiding pathway represents a wealth of experience and time spent in the mountains, with mountain guides not only being handy skiers, but also extremely capable rock/ice climbers & alpinists. The guiding pathway requires me to gain a fairly high standard of climbing, skiing & mountaineering experience (and lots of it!) - I’m just enjoying spending as much time in the mountains as possible, and will see where it leads me.
If you’re new to a resort, or looking to find the best snow in resort in the safest possible way then hiring a mountain guide is the best way of doing this - they’ll be able to use their years of experience in the mountains and knowledge of the current snowpack to give you the best day without questioning your safety throughout the day.
Location - Tignes
Riders - Jordan and Holly
Words - Jordan Tiernan
Travel Friends - Val Heli Ski
Photography & Drone - Matt Porteous