Anyone planning to make the journey a few times should consider buying the International lift pass covering both resorts, which gives access to a total of 360km of pistes served by 53 lifts. Bear in mind though that the more demanding slopes on the Swiss side are a long way from the top of the Klein Matterhorn interchange between the two resorts.
It’s also important to keep an eye on the clock – and the weather. When the clouds roll in and the wind gets up, the link between the resorts can close, and it’s also a long journey home on lifts and pistes from the far corners of the Swiss resort. Anyone getting stuck in Zermatt is better off staying in a B&B for the night than paying for a taxi home – it takes around six hours to get back to Cervinia by road.
While Cervinia’s biggest asset is its altitude – long runs and guaranteed snow cover are an enticing combination –the downside is that the pistes far above the tree line can be a nightmarish place in a whiteout. In bad weather conditions, the higher slopes on the Cervinia side close along with the link to Zermatt, limiting options on the slopes.
The resort’s highlight is the 11km Ventina red run, which descends all the way down to the resort and, if taken without a stop, is guaranteed to turn even the strongest legs to spaghetti.
For beginners, there are good nursery slopes at resort level and a choice of two Italian ski schools – tackling the Ventina should be the goal for the final day of the holiday. For even the most progressive first-weeker, the task will take most of the day to complete, but the result will be a happy holidaymaker hooked on snow sports for life. An absence of t-bars also makes Cervinia a particularly good place for novice and lower intermediate snowboarders looking to clock up some mileage.
For freestylers, the Indian terrain park, accessed by the Plan Maison or Pancheron chairlifts, is one of the best in Italy. It is more than 1.2km long and 200m wide with more than 11 features, including rails, boxes and kickers, designed for all levels. Valtournenche also has its own park geared towards beginners.
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