Leysin’s low-pressure environment, sunny slopes, friendly and professional ski school and relaxed atmosphere are all plus points for first timers. There are special beginner areas at Plan-Praz (by the upper village) or at the Daille (by the lower village) and a third location at Berneuse which has its own lift.
Leysin does not have the giant ski area on your door step that more demanding intermediate level skiers might wish for, but with 90% of the local slopes graded easy or intermediate and runs up to 4.5km (nearly three miles) long, this is classic cruising country. The upper mountain is wide open with some more challenging technical trails through the trees on lower slopes. Night skiing is available and the area Alpes Vaudoises pass includes the larger lift linked area shared by neighbouring Les Diablerets with Villars and Gryon, as well as the snowsure slopes of Glacier 3000, 30 minutes away and all accessed by a free ski bus service. Closer are the slopes of Les Mosses – La Lacherette, which are a short hop away by a shuttle bus service running every 30 minutes and increasing the local ski area size to 100km.
Although not well known as a destination for expert skiers, Leysin can offer several attractions to the more experienced downhiller. There are only two black runs in the local ski area (although much more choice with the regional pass) including the 1.3 long Chaux-de-Mont piste. In addition the ski school can offer more options including guided ski touring, avalanche survival and rescue training, and heli-skiing excursions for one or more days duration according to demand.
Snowboard / Freestyle Skiing
Leysin has a particularly strong reputation among the snowboarding and freestyle community. It was an early adopter of boarding in the first years of the sport, thanks in part to the large number of school and college groups it catered for back in the 1980s and has been staging World Cup and other major events for 20 years now. Its reputation is particularly centred on the famous Leysin snowpark located on the lower slopes below Berneuse and highly regarded both for the range of terrain features and for the high standard of maintenance of them. Each season new rails, kicks, gaps, step-ups, step-down and hips are added along side the permanent 140m long, five metre high superpipe which has been carved in the ground so that it can open with minimal snow cover. In addition there’s now a permanent ski cross course at the foot of the Chaux de Monts.
Cross-country skiing is not a particularly big activity in Leysin and those looking for a cross-country ski based holiday should probably look elsewhere! However, there is an easy, seven kilometre long track located at the bottom of the village and suited to all ability levels from beginner up using the classic skating style. There are 39km of cross-country trails in the wider area however. The ski school can offer tuition if needed and equipment rentals are available locally too. The track, which is reserved for cross country skiers only (there should be no walkers, ponies, bikers…) starts by the ice rink and continues through woodland and snow covered pastures providing great views back to the village and to Mounts Aï and Mayen beyond, as well as over to Pic Chaussy.
Leysin village and ski slopes are of a average height range which essentially means that, in an average or good winter, snow cover should be good throughout the season.
About a tenth of the slopes are covered by snowmaking and there’s also the back up of lift pass access to the nearby Glacier 3000 ski area between Gstaad and Diablerets, which has a year round high-altitude snow field you could head for in the event of a snow-shortage emergency!