Wednesday, 4 February 2015

When 3 really means 4

The Three Valleys is actually four valleys thanks to Orelle being part of the ski area. Often forgotten or perhaps considered too far/difficult to get to this gem of an area tucked away beyond Val Thorens really is worth a visit and is not as had to reach as it may appear from looking at the Piste map. A glorious sunny Saturday morning skiing the area a couple of weeks ago reminded us that Orelle is a great part of the Three Valleys area and well with a visit.

How to get there:
Once in Val Thorens take the Grand Fond Telecabine, at the top exit on the right hand side. A short ski will then bring you to the top of the Rosael Chairlift from where you can take a red piste or a blue piste into the Orelle bowl. Both these runs are long and sweeping, the blue is often less crowded just be careful as it crosses the red piste in several places. 
There is also a black run which can be accessed from the top of the Cime Caron Telepherique. Follow the red piste at the top of the Telepherique and look out for the Combe Rosael turn on your left after the first drop. This run can be beautiful and horrid depending on conditions and once you have committed to it at the top there are no alternatives. If you like your skiing consistently pleasant maybe access via Grand Fond and take a look at the black piste from the other side before committing to it.

Access via the black piste from the top of Caron. Use the access from the top of Fond for a more gentle approach.

How much terrain is there in Orelle?
In terms of marked runs there are a couple of reds and a couple of blues. Not huge and definitely scope for more to be added. In terms of Off Piste Orelle is the start/end point of many routes including the Galcier du Bouchet. The ESF team in Orelle specialise in Off Piste trips and have an office next to the Rosael chairlift.
The recently established highest Zip Line in the world takes off from the top of the Bouchet chairlift in Orelle and ends in at the top of the Funitel de Thorens. Nice easy way back to Val Thorens if you have the stomach for it.

Can't be bothered to ski back all the way? There is always the Zip Line.

What makes Orelle different from Val Thorens?
The most marked difference is there is no accommodation in the bowl itself, the town of Orelle is via a telecabine with no access via marked runs. This gives a feeling of isolation which can be hard to achieve in the other valleys where accommodation buildings can almost always be seen. The bowl can be wind impacted but on a sunny day there is nowhere else quite like it, there is a reason that the sun features on the Orelle logo.

Next time you are over in Val Thorens don't forget about Orelle, definitely a bit different from the neighbours.