So you measure your time on the slopes not in hours but in backflips.
Okay, maybe not that extreme. But you certainly know your way around a pair of skis or a snowboard. You'll get down any red. A fruity black run is totally fine. And you're not even lying when you say you had fun going off-piste.
Well, you're going to be in good company. Meribel attracts some of the world's very best skiers and boarders who come here not just for the vast scale (600km of pistes, anyone?). Nor even simply for the world-leading lift infrastrcuture (just the 200 lifts, then?).
There's the interconnectedness of the lifts and runs, the mountains and valleys. It's mind-blowing. You can ski for days and days without ever carrying your skis to a far-flung bus stop.
There's the world-class off-piste and cross-country opportunities here. Huge, unending swathes of majestic hillside just begging to be carved wide open. And lifts that deliver you to the very best points of departure.
There's the local guides. With so many competent skiers visiting the area, off-piste clinics and guided group sessions are happening all the time. Just let your chalet company know what you're looking for and they will be able to offer you advice on how to get involved.
There's the snow parks. Meribel has two itself. The Moon Park is easily accessible off the Plan de l'homme lift from the Chaudanne. For more of a challenge, head to Mottaret for the Plattières park (aka DC Park or Area 43) with its steep gradients and high walls.
For those up for a real challenge there is always the (in)famous Three Valleys Escapade in a day.
If you've made it this far as an advanced skier or boarder but haven't yet experienced Meribel and The Three Valleys...
Well, all we can say is: Welcome home.
The Three Valleys is a Mecca for powder hounds the world over. And, while you may find some incredible pistes in most good ski resorts, you will struggle to find off-piste terrain that matches The Three Valleys.
With access to the whole Three Valleys ski area, Meribel is the ideal starting point for your off-piste adventure. Heading out from Meribel, you will find marked trails leading you both to the Courchevel Valley and to the Belleville Valley (which is perhaps better known for its cross-country skiing than for its off-piste).
Wider than piste skis, these will leave you floating not sinking.
You won't always be within 500m of the nearest vin chaud.
Radio Beacon used in finding people or equipment buried under snow.
Allows you to gauge the burial depth of a person or piece of equipment.
You will need one per person. You won't be using it if you're the one who's buried!
Check it covers everywhere that you might end up. Three Valleys full-area pass recommended.
Take a copy of your documents with you, but also leave a copy in the chalet.
Blue skies and pure powder are a dream. If you can see.
Be sure to save and clearly label the number for a local mountain rescue.
It won't all be hot chocolate and fondue where you're going.
You may need to buy supplies along the way.
Preferably one that has been checked over for potential hazards.
Leave your ego at the chalet ping-pong table and club together and hire a local guide. As with any off-piste skiing, there is no set trail and so no set record of potential hazards. With no margin for error, local knowledge is at a premium.
Especially on heavy powder days, it really pays to get on the earliest lifts. Meribel attracts a lot of advanced skiers looking for pure powder. When conditions are good, the best trails can get tracked-out pretty quickly.
R'Meribel will give out the avalanche risk every morning on the radio. It is also important to ask the pisteurs and check the information boards on the mountain to find out about latest conditions. For more information and advice on Avalanche see Henry's Avalanche Talk Website.
Don't find out the hard way. Check that your travel insurance covers off-piste skiing and upgrade if you have to. If in doubt, call your provider before your set off.
If it's your first time going off-piste in Meribel, then the area between the Loze chairlift the Dent Burgin chairlift could be your ideal starting point.
If you are going off-piste near the Cote Brune chairlift, be sure to check in with the ski patrollersfirst. They're based at the top of the skilift. They can tell you whether the nearby trails are safe to ski.
Last Updated: 26 August 2020