Friday, 31 October 2014

What to expect this season

Since the last post snow has fallen in Meribel including a light covering down at Les Allues. At this time of year the ground is still quite warm so it melts quickly but no doubt as the temperature drops more snow will be on the way.

Unlike many ski areas Meribel invests an enormous amount of € in developing the area which of course includes new ski lifts and changes to Pistes. Here is a round up of some of the changes you can look forward to this season.

One of the changes that will impact us - in a good way almost every day -  is the upgrade of the Loze Chair to a 6 seater detachable model. This will see us being whisked to the top in just 6 minutes. This improvement is not just about getting to the top quicker to get in more ski time, as anyone who is a regular user of the chair will know the slow journey could be a very, very cold experience indeed. Using the free ski bus from Les Allues alighting at Meribel Village and using the altiport to access the Loze chair is a fast, queue free, scenic way to get to the Courchevel Valley so this is a great improvement.
The view from the Loze chair will be going past a bit faster this season.

On the other side of the Meribel Valley the Roc de Fer piste which will be used for the World Cup in March has been re-shaped and will be open prior to the World Cup to give everyone an idea of how it feels to ski a World Cup run. Also on the same side but a little further around a shortcut which we had long used to get safely into Mottaret has become an official piste with the help of a little re-shaping. It has been previously marked with a "Easy Way Down" sign which was true in that the slope is not severe and it is much quieter than the alternative however it did involve a far bit of strenuous ski pole use. Lets hope the re-shaping has solved this problem.

Over in Courchevel the purse has been opened with a considerable amount of money spent resulting in a few new lifts to look forward to. These include the Aiguille du Fruit chair which replaces 2 chairlifts, the increased speed will make the journey back from 1650 faster. We haven't seen a piste map yet but early indications from where the pylons were being built last season indicate that the chair will end somewhere between the two old lifts which may mean the loss of a sneaky way onto Suisse piste. We will have to wait and see how it all works in December.

It will be the "end of an era" sort of moment in Le Praz with the smallest bubble lift in the area - the Fôret bubble - being replaced by a faster 6 seater chair lift.  The Foret was very cute looking but cramped, slow and always difficult to get fat skis inside the ski rack.
Skiing down to where the new Aiguille de Fruit chairlift will depart from

Over in the Val Thorens Valley the Plan de l’Eau chairlift has been upgraded which is a bit of sad news in a way as the area it served was always quiet and offered a great range of pistes. Now it has a faster chair it may become more popular but maybe we shouldn't be so selfish. The new chair will take skiers a little higher so it's not all bad news! The popular Portette chair has also been upgraded which will remove some of the queues which formed there in busy periods.
Now all we have to do is wait until the snow falls and the lifts open in December.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Countdown to winter

As usual as soon as the temperature rises in the Southern hemisphere we start thinking about winter in the Alps. In some parts of Australia the clocks have changed and days are getting longer while in Europe the days are getting shorter and eyes start to look upwards for signs of that magic white stuff.

One of the expenses of a ski holiday is buying a lift pass to whisk you up to the peaks to enable you to swoop down again. Lift passes will never be cheap and if you think about the infrastructure required and the challenges of building lifts it really is no surprise. Here in Australia we have the not very coveted title of one of the most expensive lift passes in the world, lots of money for a handful of lifts. You could never call the lift pass prices in the Three Valleys cheap but do your research and you will find them good value for money. You can buy your lift pass on line to allow you to get straight onto the lifts and up to the top as soon as you arrive in the resort. So, before you go shopping on line what do you need to think about?

Firstly how many days will you be skiing? There are lift pass options varying from half day to full season and almost everything in between. Once you know how many days have a think about where you will be skiing. For beginners there are Mini Pass options and the option of only skiing the Meribel Valley. For the more relaxed or "social" skier one valley - especially when so varied as Meribel will probably be enough for a one week stay. Got more than a week under your ski belt and you will be wanting to venture all over this amazing area so you will need a Three Valleys Lift Pass. A bit undecided - don't worry we have that covered as you can "upgrade" a Meribel Valley Pass to the Three Valleys as soon as you find your ski legs.

It doesn't end there - lucky enough to be coming out for more than a week there are longer duration options available and the very flexible Liberte Pass which registers where you have skied and charges you accordingly - perfect for those enjoying a long ski holiday who don't feel the need to hit the slopes every day.

But wait, there is more. If you buy your lift pass with a friend (or two) using only one transaction there are price reductions on offer.

Phew! It's a lot to take in so make a cup of tea and take a look at these two links:

Meribel Tourism web site

Lift Company web site - yet to open for online sales but lots of useful information to keep you going

In between surfing keep your eye on the Alpine weather, winter is not far away now.