The first thing to know about ice climbing is that yes, it's just as terrifying as it looks.

And on top of that, it's somehow even more physically difficult than it looks.

But the plus side is that it's so exhilarating that it's unlikely you'll care - at least not until you wake up the next day unable to move your arms and legs.

Having been a relatively keen rock climber in years gone by, I thought ice climbing at Alpe d'Huez grand domaine Ski ( would be if not a doddle, then at least not hugely challenging.

Just one morning with two guides on the side of a sheer rock face in the Alps convinced me how foolish I'd been.

For a start, there's the crampon spikes that need to be attached to your shoes (and which I managed to cut my own shin with), and then the 200ft trek up a steep snowy mountain face.

Perhaps sensing that one or two of us were slightly nervous about the climb, the guides opted to dispense with any small talk and instead hand out axes and point to the top of the ice face.

After that it was a mix of pain, thrill, and the satisfaction of reaching the top of the ascent.

It's an experience that will live with you long after aching muscles have recovered - and the fact that the instructors do it all without safety ropes is impressive to a barely believable degree.

In contrast to ice climbing, the skiing itself at Alpe d'Huez grand domaine Ski was a a pleasant surprise in a very different way.

Before the trip to Oz-en-Oisans I had been more apprehensive about the prospect of taking on the longest black run in Europe.

As a skier of modest ability I'd tried my hand at a few black runs in the past, but managing to stay vertical for 10 miles (or 16km) is another matter entirely.

Skiing is a joy but many will know the feeling of biting off more than they can chew and spending the entire run just trying to keep themselves upright.

So for any skiers who fancy taking on the Sarenne, I can tell you this - don't be afraid.

Far from being a full-on grind, holding on for dear life, the run is challenging but still incredibly enjoyable.

In fact before the skiing itself, the view across a huge section of the Alps is stunning.

Those with eagle eyes will spot the summit of 4,800m Mont Blanc and the 3,900m La Meije.

And once you set off the experience is no less enjoyable.

The warning beforehand is that once you start there is no turning back - as if you'd want to - and in total there descent is more than 2,200m through a number of different sections and skiing styles.

If there's one drawback it's that over the course of the huge descent the snow quality can degrade slightly, but you'll likely be having too good a time to notice.

The Sarenne fits in well with Alpe d'Huez grand domaine Ski as a whole, in fact.

It's a challenge without being overly taxing, it's not too busy (particularly compared with some other areas of the Alps), and visually it's very attractive.

For those who fancy something a little more light-hearted after the skiing, there is a dedicated family area offering alternative methods of flying down the slopes.

These include bikes, modified skateboards, and face-first inflatables - but although you're closer to the ground, it's still painful when you fall.

Casual skiers may want to consider pay-as-you-ski lift passes, which have been introduced to Alpe d’Huez grand domaine Ski for the upcoming season for a variety of different prices.

And for large groups, Chalet Eterlou, located in Oz-en-Oisans, is ideal.

It sleeps up to 20 and includes a large lounge, a hot tub, and a balcony giving a great view of the Alps.


For more information about Oz-en-Oisans visit For more information on Alpe d’Huez grand domaine Ski area visit:

Accommodation: Chalet Eterlou is priced from £2,049 for the whole chalet sleeping up to 20 people for a week.

Catering options are available for an additional price. Visit: or call: +33 2 04 70 26 26

Travel: Skiers can fly to any of the neighbouring airports: Grenoble, Lyon and Chambery Return flights are available from London to Lyon with easyJet from £45 Restaurants: Breakfast catered by Monts et Merveilles: +33 06265575 00 La Fruitière, La Folie Douce Alpe d’Huez – la Grange Restaurant - +33 04 76 11 03 66 ; La Ferme d’Oz: +33 04 76 11 05 49 Ski information

Lift passes: A 6-day lift pass for adults for the Oz-Vaujany ski area is priced from £114/€134.50 A 6-day lift pass for adults for the Alpe d’Huez grand domaine Ski area is priced from £177/€207.5 Ski tuition – ESF -; +33 04 76 79 85 29 Ski hire - Ski Tonic – Skiset +3304 76 80 72 80

Other activities: Ice climbing with Bureau des Guides. For more information visit or call +33 (0) 4 76 80 42 55