Resort Profile: Crans Montana

By adamrowden, 12 Dec '12 at 15:58

Crans Montana is a ski resort that is situated in western Switzerland, in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Originally two villages, the natural advantages and resulting popularity of Crans and Montana led to the two villages joining under one name in the 1960s.

Those advantages begin with the resort's wonderful location, on a sunny terrace of lakes and woodland with views across the Rhone Valley and out towards the mountain peaks of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.

Famous for its pure mountain air, Crans Montana today is a large, cosmopolitan resort boasting over 60 international restaurants, an excellent range of shops, lively nightlife and culture, a comprehensive program of activities and a wide-ranging choice of sporting activities beyond skiing. A free bus service links all the different sections of the resort. Crans Montana is also building a reputation as an international conference centre similar to Davos, attracting scientists, economists and politicians from all over the world to events based in its Regent Congress Hall.

Crans Montana has a long and illustrious history in winter sports and Swiss tourism in general dating back to the early years, although the resort also recognised the potential of golf from the start, opening the Plan Bramois 18 hole course as early as 1906 and staging the first Swiss Open in 1939. The first hotel, Le Parc, opened in Montana in 1893. Over 100 years later there are now more than 30 hotels, with total tourist bed numbers of over 40,000. The resort's history is inextricably tied up with the Central European Latine culture, a tradition still clearly visible today.

On the Slopes

The slopes of Crans Montana are all spread out across a large mountainside and are accessed via lifts from four valley bases. The gondolas from Crans and Montana meet at Cry d’Er, which is a lovely open bowl that descends down into a patchy forest. There is also a third gondola which accesses the next sector, Les Violettes.

When you get to the area above Les Voilettes, you can take a jumbo gondola up to the Plaine Morte glacier. You can also access the fourth sector using a gondola from Aminona.

Expert riders and skiers will be pleased to know that there are a few steep pistes in Crans Montana that are worth testing yourself on and there are also some decent moguls located on the shorter slopes at La Toula. There is also an abundance of cracking off-piste to be had, particularly underneath La Toula, Chetzeron and La Tza. If you fancy heading away from the lift system then there are some pretty adventurous routes to be found. Especially in Les Faverges, where there is a beautiful valley that you can head to to get to Aminona.

Intermediates will be spoiled for choice in Crans Montana. There are plenty of notably long runs including the 12km run from Plaine Morte to Les Barzettes that begins with some splendid views and plenty of powder and ends up taking you into some lovely woods.

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