Seven of the most adventurous ski holidays for this winter

Peter Hardy
Experience the wild beauty of the Lyngen Alps in Norway - Graham Austick

Whether it’s learning the basics of ski touring in the Dolomites or heliskiing in Antarctica, there’s never a shortage of fresh challenges for committed skiers or snowboarders. While many holidaymakers are content to visit and revisit a handful of big-name resorts year on year, there’s a hardcore of us constantly seeking the next excitement: be it skiing through cherry orchards  and skinny-dipping in woodland thermal pools in Japan, ski touring in a Norwegian fjord, or exploring the pistes somewhere as exotic as Iran.

If you’re heading for a destination off the beaten track do think carefully about your equipment and check it all carefully before leaving home -  you won’t find suitable rental skis on the Antarctica Peninsular or replacement kit on a mountain in Iceland.

Unless otherwise stated, prices are per person for seven nights, based on two sharing a double or twin room and include half-board, flights and transfers.

Best for powderhounds wanting tuition

Furano, Japan

On the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido the snow falls almost every day from November until April. Join the Warren Smith Ski Academy for a five-day course on how to handle it, plus three days of freeskiing. The 2019 course will be based in Furano, which is not as well-known as Niseko, also on Hokkaido. But it has some amazing off-piste opportunities through steep stands of silver birch, along with an outstanding snow record. From January 26 to February 5.

Need to know

From £3,299 with Ski Safari including lift pass, five days coaching, three-days free skiing, nine nights b&b at the piste-side New Furano Prince Hotel.

Head to Japan with the Warren Smith Ski Academy and Ski Safari
Best for a change of pace

St Moritz, Switzerland  

The long and scenic Engadine valley is most famous for St Moritz, the birthplace of winter tourism in the Alps. But the charming stone-built village of Sils is far removed from the razzmatazz of its glitzy neighbour. The Engadine is renowned for its cross-country skiing and three-star hotel Privata provides an excellent and stylish base. Pre-booked cross-country ski package includes equipment rental and six-day ski pass.

Need to know

From £1,330 with Inntravel plus Ski package £105 including local train and bus travel.  

Enjoy a change of pace in St Moritz Credit: Christoph Sonderegger
Best for going extreme

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA

Bite the bullet and have a go at Jackson’s famous Corbet’s Couloir, accessed by a stomach-churning slither, or jump, down a sheer wall of ice. Within the ski area experts will also be able to enjoy the Hobacks black-diamond runs which offer some of the best tree skiing in America. If that doesn’t sate you, backcountry tours with a guide are available, as are cat skiing and heliskiing. The eco-friendly boutique Hotel Terra is well-positioned for jumping on the ‘tram’ – Jackson’s iconic red cable car – or the nearby gondola. The hotel has a rooftop spa, an infinity pool and Il Villaggio Osteria, one of the best restaurants in Teton Village.

Need to know  

From £1,650 with Ski Independence, room only, including flights and transfers.

Jackson Hole offers some of the world's best terrain for adventurous experts Credit: amy jimmerson
Best for getting off the beaten track

Iran’s leading resorts 

Back in the days of the Shah, Iran developed some fairly sophisticated ski resorts. Surprisingly, even during the most repressive years that followed the 1978 revolution, skiing continued – albeit with sex-segregated slopes. Now the atmosphere is markedly more relaxed and a fascinating experience. Mountain Heaven’s guided ten-day tours take in the three main resorts of Dizin, Shemshak, and Darbandsar. Trip departs on February 29 and returns March 11.

Need to know

From £1,500, with Mountain Heaven including half-board in ski resorts, b&b in non-resort hotels, sightseeing tours and transfers, excluding flights.

Iran is home to hidden pockets of off piste terrain Credit: christian aslund
Best for introductory and intermediate ski tours

Alta Badia, Italy

It’s easy to find off-piste outings for experts, but those suitable for less accomplished powderhounds are less common. Wow Ski Tours is British-run from comfortable Chalet Casa Zilli in the pretty little village of La Villa in the heart of Alta Badia, in the Italian Dolomites. Instruction is from a qualified IFMGA mountain guide in groups no bigger than six. Tours run from February 23 and March 2.  

Need to know

From £1,450 with Wow Ski Tours including five days’ guiding, b&b chalet accommodation, daily transport to different ski locations in the region, excluding flights.   

Best for the ultimate heliskiing adventure

Half Moon and Livingston islands, Antarctic Peninsula

Based on an ice-class vessel equipped with two Russian-built Mi-8 helicopters, on this once-in-a-lifetime trip adventurers fly from Punta Arenas in Chile to King George Island where they then board the boat and head for the slopes of Half Moon and Livingston Islands in the Antarctic Peninsula.

The boat takes a maximum of 24 skiers and there’s one guide for each group of four. In December the days are long but the weather is unpredictable.  So, as the organisers promise “guests will heliski at any and every opportunity.” When conditions don’t allow the helicopter to fly guests are taken ashore by Zodiac inflatable boat and use skins on the bottom of skis to tour up the mountain before skiing runs back to the beach. The Zodiacs are also used for other activities such as excursions to penguin colonies, whale watching, cruising along the shoreline and around icebergs. The nine-night holidays are from December 8 and December 22.

Need to know

From $20,000 (approximately £15,600 and $12,000 (£9,355) for non skiers with Pelorus including one night’s b&b in Punta Arenas, return flights from Punta Arenas to King George Island, all meals onboard, one guide per group of four skiers, and 24 hours helicopter flying time, local transfers, return international flights to Punta Arenas.

Best for accessing off piste by boat

Lyngen Alps, Norway

A beautiful, untamed landscape, where peaks rise more than 1,000m directly from icy blue fjords, greets visitors to the off-piste paradise of the Lyngen Alps in Norway. On a peninsula that sits 480km inside the Arctic Circle, this unspoilt wilderness offers a quiet alternative to heliskiing – with a boat rather than a helicopter.

The wild Arctic landscape and Northern Lights above Lyngen Lodge in Norway Credit: Graham Austick

Lyngen Lodge, a boutique lodge hotel that sleeps up to 16 guests, runs the Summit to Sea programme offering six days’ guided ski touring with IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations) guides. Each morning, guests climb aboard the Spirit of Lyngen for a water transfer to beaches and piers, from where they skin up to the summit of one of the many dramatic peaks, before enjoying wonderful views on a long descent back to the sea. There are also days of accessing the mountains from the lodge itself.

Need to know

From £4,000  with Lnygen Lodge for seven nights’ full-board accommodation with six days’ guiding Including local airport transfers, excluding flights.