Sunday, 18 December 2016

One week into the season - what's it really like?

Despite significant snowfalls in late October and early November we are not sitting in a winter wonderland at resort level. The prolonged dry period has reminded people of the last 2 years where Christmas and New Year did not produce snowfalls which instead came later in the season.

So what is it really like out there? Well we have skied this week and enjoyed some of the best snow conditions ever - how can that be? Well the answer probably lies in our eternal Australian optimism and the fact that we firmly believe in skiing to the conditions. We have a saying " a mediocre day on the slopes in the French Alps beats a great day at the office any time."  To the second point skiing to the conditions at the moment means no off piste, no fluffy white pillows to break your fall and no mindless meandering across super wide highways without a care in the world.

On the higher slopes the natural snow which fell earlier in the season has been preserved by the cold temperatures. The rigorous maintenance by the Pisteurs has resulted in very forgiving snow, grippy underfoot and easy to turn in. Lower down man made snow has enabled resort home runs to be opened and beginner areas to operate. The schedule of grooming has been increased which means for early birds lots and lots of corduroy to enjoy. As the day moves on some ares become hard packed and sharp edges are needed to get traction. The Three Valley links are open, the sun is shining and there are definitely worse places to be.

Today we went to Val Thorens and found some lovely snow. We took the blue Pluviometre run into Val Thorens which was nicely groomed with a few loose stones towards the bottom - easy to spot and avoid. We then took the Peclet Funitel- 3 times in total and again lovely groomed conditions on each run. All the runs at the top were open, 80% groomed. 

On the way up Peclet Funitel
From the summit all runs were open
The top of Peclet Funitel is the access to the Toboggan run which winds back down to Val Thorens centre. Judging by the number of Sledges the Funitel deals with on an average day it is certainly popular.

The Toboggan run Val Thorens
After playing around Peclet we moved to Portette Chair and Thorens Funitel giving us a chance to peak into the Orelle Valley. Our late afternoon runs back to Meribel Chaudanne were all in good condition despite some easily avoided hard patches. If you can control your speed they don't represent a problem. If you feel tired at the end of a day don't forget you can always take a Gondola down, if you do you will be rewarded by the biggest smiles form the Lifties because they know that sometimes it's the best thing to do.
The blue Lory run into the Orelle Valley

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Day One Season 2016/17

Today is the first day of the season and of course we have overcome our "can I still ski?" nerves, remembered how to fasten our ski boots and got out there so we can report back.

A funny build up to the start of the season here with lots and lots of early snow followed by a dry spell. The good news is the temperatures have been generally cold, the ground we have been walking on over the past few weeks is frozen as are plenty of streams.

Today was gloriously sunny - no complaints when a chairlift makes an impromptu stop - and the Valley looked beautiful. Very few holidaymakers take a gamble on booking a holiday this early so the slopes are very quiet.
Top of Tougnete 2
There are 131 runs open representing approx 240km of skiing. All valleys are accessible. The snow at the top is lovely and light on a firm base. Lower down man made snow has been produced in huge quantities to make it possible to ski back to Chaudanne. We skied as low as the St Martin Chair with no complaints. In some areas the run widths are reduced requiring lower speeds which is not a bad thing while everyone is finding their snow legs.

Lovely view from the Granges Chair
 Down in Mottaret the Tourist Office and local businesses collaborated to welcome the start of the season with a range of activities. Traditional music, food and a round up of information on activities taking place during the season. The chance to try riding on a Skiddoo and surprisingly Ski-Joering proved popular. The small pony certainly seemed keen to go as fast as possible.

Hats off to the local dancers giving it their all in the slippery conditions
This Pony seemed determined to give everyone a speedy ride

Wood fired Vin Chaud, perfect start to a Season