Known as the “Island of the Sun” thanks to its generous sunshine all year round, the resort of Alpe d’Huez is also known for its mythical slopes. Some know the Sarenne piste, the longest black run in Europe, with a gradient of 2,000 metres over 16 kilometres and an average gradient of 12.5%. But have you ever heard of the Tunnel track?
The Alpe d’Huez tunnel track
The history of the Alpe d’Huez tunnel track is not recent. It was after the opening of the third section of the Grandes Rousses cable car in 1963 that the idea of creating it was born. It is a unique slope, as it consists of a vaulted underground gallery, which runs through the mountain, to allow skiers to pass through. Xavier Perrier Michon, director of the ESF Alpe d’Huez, explains the location and the history of the construction of the Tunnel piste: “The first wall is shared with the Sarenne piste, but you quickly turn right to reach the entrance of the famous 200-metre long tunnel, imagined by the hotelier Georges Rajon and inaugurated in 1964”.
It was in November 1964 that the tunnel was built, just before the opening of the winter season.
The Tunnel track: one of the steepest in the Alps
To go down the Alpe d’Huez Tunnel, you have to be a winter sports enthusiast and not have cold eyes. For Pauline Zini-Smith, municipal councillor in charge of tourism, the Alpe d’Huez piste requires an excellent level of skill to use it: “When you cross the tunnel, the pressure increases sharply, even if you are a good skier. You never know what you’ll find at the exit. After the mogul wall, the slope is great: you really enjoy it! It’s a race synonymous with thrills. I’d say it’s the only one in the resort that requires a really excellent level of technique”.
This unusual route starts at the arrival station of the Pic Blanc cable car, the highest point of the resort at 3330 metres. On leaving the tunnel, the skier may be surprised by the steepness of the slope. Chrystelle Gallin-Martel, a trainer who has been working on the Alpe d’Huez slopes for 15 years, tells us about this slope, which can surprise and impress skiers:
“IT IS REALLY RESERVED FOR VERY GOOD SKIERS BECAUSE OF ITS STEEPNESS, BUT ALSO BECAUSE OF ITS IMPRESSIVENESS”.
With an incline of 30 degrees (70%), the run is known as one of the steepest in the Alps. One thing is for sure, the Alpe d’Huez tunnel run will give you the adrenaline rush you need. It is a great satisfaction, and no pun intended, to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Tunnel track has been renovated this season with a new façade, redesign of the start, redesign of the lighting and a staging of this mythical track. If you already know this track, it’s time to rediscover it!
Tunnel track: 1 track among the 111 in the resort
In addition to this legendary piste, Alpe d’Huez has a sunny ski area with many assets. With 10,000 hectares, 840 of which are skiable, Alpe d’Huez offers no less than 111 pistes (35 green, 31 blue, 30 red and 15 black) to its visitors. In total, there are 250 kilometres of skiable area, as well as 35 kilometres of pedestrian routes and 50 km of Nordic trails.
A ski area with many assets
The Alpe d’Huez ski area is very progressive. The most difficult slopes are higher up and the beginners’ slopes are closer to the resort. This is safer but also more accessible for beginners, who benefit from two safe and signposted areas to learn at their own pace.
The ski area has several fun slopes that bring it to life. There’s Marcel’s Farm, all dressed in pink, which runs from the top of the Signal to the foot of the slopes, Roger the Shepherd in the sector of the same name, Jacques the woodcutter in Auris en Oisans and the latest addition, Léo, the round-trip skier, which runs from the snow front at 1800 metres altitude. To this must be added the Snowpark of more than 20 hectares which meets the expectations of beginners and experts alike.
The Alpe d’Huez ski area is internationally renowned for its very long runs. Starting with legendary routes such as the Sarenne piste, 16 kilometres long, or the Tunnel piste, which offer skiers dream descents. This varied area retains its traditional charm. You will find different atmospheres around the fir trees, the frozen lakes, but also the wide open spaces. The panorama of the Pic Blanc, at 3330 metres, offers a breathtaking view.
Finally, the domain has one of the largest off-piste areas in the French Alps. There are more than 70 different itineraries for lovers of steep slopes or ski touring.
Alpe d’Huez, the perfect place for your holidays
L’Alpe d’Huez is a ski resort in XXL format, with 12 hotels, 28,000 tourist places and no less than 300 shops. Jean-Christophe Lapalus, Director of the ski resort’s Ski Service, talks about the variety of shops and offers, and the importance of welcoming people to the mountain:
“WE HAVE TO BE A SERVICE AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE TO THE CUSTOMERS TO MEET THEIR EXPECTATIONS. WE HAVE TO BE PROFESSIONALS AT THE RECEPTION”.
New projects are appearing regularly in the resort. In terms of accommodation, a new tourist residence, the Eclose Odalys, opened in Alpe d’Huez this winter. This new 4 and 5 star residence offers a capacity of 1444 new beds in the resort. Ideally located, not far from the Alpe Express cable car, it has 560 covered parking spaces.
In the ski area, the “Huez Express” cable car is a real revolution. This new device, consisting of ten-seater cabins, occupies the departure and arrival points of the former Télévillage, between the village of Huez and the heart of the resort. The Huez Express is the last link in the triptych of free urban transport serving the Alpe d’Huez resort, after the Télé-Centre and the Alpe Express, built in 2017.
The replacement of the Sures chairlift in Auris-en-Oisans with a telemix is also one of the new features of the season. It offers comfort and a solution better adapted to the needs of beginners in winter and pedestrians in summer.
Preparing your holiday on the tunnel track of the Alpe d’Huez just got easier and easier!
There are many activities to discover in Alpe d’Huez during the winter, but how about leaving the snowball fights behind in favour of the Laser Game? At Alpe d’Huez, the battle will be even more fun. Completely outdoors, the Ice Laser Game course is made entirely of snow. A great way to spend an unforgettable moment with your family or friends.
For those who prefer to relax, you can plunge into a mountain of softness, dive into the indoor pool or let yourself be pampered in the spa.
The family is not left out at Alpe d’Huez, with all the ways to slide: we can only recommend that you try the toboggan run or the Yooner. Guaranteed sensations for young and old alike.
Finally, to make the most of its offers, the resort offers a brand new booking platform which allows you to organise your package holiday at Alpe d’Huez (accommodation, ski passes, ski lessons, equipment, activities, service +) in just a few clicks.
Yoga in Alpe d’Huez: a wellness session in the heart of nature