Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Overview of week one of the 2012/13 season

"Weather" is probably the best word to sum up week one of the 2012/13 season. We have experienced sunshine, poor visibility, a chilly wind, light snow, heavy snow and lower down even rain. Despite all of that we have amazing conditions here in The Three Valleys and have been enjoying skiing on almost empty runs for the last seven days. In Courchevel on Saturday we shared the beautiful Creux red run with 4 other people, once they had overtaken us it was all ours, a true treat.

Today was a particularly snowy day, we tested out the new Plattieres lift out of Mottaret which is very fast and blissfully quiet. The original Plattieres 3 Gondola is still in use and the transition from new to old is quite jarring although soon forgotten when we exited from the Gondola into deep, deep powder. The run down to St Martin was probably as good as it gets and lower down visibility improved dramatically.

Searching for lower altitude skiing saw us at the Meribel Altiport and onto one of my favourite runs "Piste des Animaux". Hidden at the base of the Loze Chairlift this short run through the trees features models of animals and informative signage. Not a person had skied down it and it appears no one with a shovel has been near it either as most of the animals are now hidden under snow or about to disappear.

The outlook is for more snow and hopefully a few clear days to take some pictures which really show off the area. In the meantime the following pictures represent the first week of the season.

From Saulire mid station looking down to Meribel Altiport

Golf Chairlift in need of snow clearing

No sun but lots of powder!

Halfway down Foret run and the sun decides to show up

Festive decoration in Mottaret fighting a losing battle with the snow

Piste des Animaux, hopefully someone will come and dig the animals out soon

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Day one of the 2012/13 Season

The most important thing to start off a season well is to have snow and it would be fair to say we have that by the bucket full. It would be lovely to also start with a nice sunny day to admire the scenery and also make finding your snow legs a little easier. We couldn't quite get delivery on the sun today, even at mid station the visibility was bad and the temperature was well into the minus numbers. Snow continued to fall throughout the day and it is still snowing now. Conditions under ski and up to about mid calf were lovely, now we just need to sort out the rest and see some blue sky.

At the start of the season there is always a limited area open, it's simply not worth it for the number of people around and due to the depth of snow there are safety issues to be addressed. The links to the other Valleys were not open today but will gradually open as the week progresses. We skied a limited area, just enough to get the ski legs and ski brain working and take some snaps. The weather forecast is for a least 2 clear days in the next 5 days so will report back when we have gone further afield.

Not a bad view for a bus stop
Waiting at the bus stop it seemed there may be some blue sky appearing
Higher up no breaks in the cloud but a lovely run through the trees. Perfect conditions - Piste bashed corduroy down the middle, untouched deep powder at each side

Skiing down into Meribel some of the smaller trees have now disappeared completely under snow

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Changes for the new season

We have previously posted about the changes over at Courchevel and as the snow continues to fall and the lifts open on Saturday it feels like time to cover what is new in Meribel for this season. The most dramatic will be opening of the first section of the Saulire Express gondola, the top section was opened last year. The lift station has been re-built with a large entrance ramp at the front. At the weekend they were putting the last finishing touches and the Gondolas were happily travelling up and down empty.

New lower stage of Saulire Express

 The completed Saulire Express will reach the top of the Saulire in just 12 minutes, compared with a previous journey time of over 20 minutes. This gives very speedy access to the red Piste Creux which first thing in the morning is one of the great pleasures of skiing the Three Valleys and gives access to the 1650 side of Courchevel.

The other big change for our Valley is the opening of the new Plattières lift which will replace the Plattières 1 and 2 gondolas. There will be no mid station and the lift entrance in Mottaret has been moved which will give easier access. The 9 minutes journey time will decrease the time taken to get to Mount Vallon and Cote Brune area although if it provides enough time to eat a sandwich is yet to be determined.

The new Plattieres lift station, Mount Vallon enjoying the sunshine in the background

Each year changes are also made to Pistes, sometimes a gentle re-shaping here and there or improvements to intersections. This season we also have a brand new Piste in Meribel to be called the Couloir Tournier. The 37-degree Couloir starts at the top of the Saulire Express and is to be equipped with cameras to allow you to have a lasting reminder  of your exploits. I am happy to report back at a later time on the suitability of the new fast Plattieres lift for snacking on a sandwich however the new Couloir will join the Grand Couloir on my list of 2 Pistes I will not be seen on. Happy to stand at the bottom and watch so will post later on the popularity of the new Piste.

For non skiers - or skiers wanting a rest day the Three Valleys offers an extensive network of footpaths which are well signed and bashed during the winter to make the snow firm and easier to walk on. One of the nicest walks is from  Meribel to Mottaret which we completed earlier this week, not as easy as usual as the snow is deep and the basher has not been out yet. Very hard on the legs but lovely views as seen below.

New festive decoration at the entrance to Mottaret

Walking down the Truite Piste
Bring your own shovel if you want to sit down

Walking towards Mottaret