The word mythical, so often overused, may be the most apt description for the aura surrounding the small French village of La Grave and its daunting north-facing mountain La Meije. The renowned ski destination of the southern French Alps is unlike any other: a 40-year-old téléphérique carries intrepid skiers up from the rustic village to a spectacular, alpine world. Stepping out at “3,200” (as everyone calls the top station), there’s not a groomer in sight but wild terrain and a high mountain environment which can be intimidating to anyone. La Grave’s ski patrol exists to inform skiers and snowboarders about the snow conditions and potential dangers; they do not supervise descents or bomb slopes for avalanche control. Featuring 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) descents in natural big mountain terrain with glaciers, open bowls, infamous couloirs, and steep larch tree skiing, skiers bear responsibility for the risk and reward of their line choices.
La Grave does not pretend it has something for everyone but if you arrive well-prepared with a humble attitude, this special place can offer some of the best freeriding on the planet.
Seriously consider skiing with a mountain guide for a safer and more fun experience. The local guides know the area and where the good snow is. There are a couple of guide offices in La Grave, as well as independent mountain guides.