Trip Report elSpike's French SkiSki in the time of Covid - Les Trois Vallées

Gregah

One of Us
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Jul 17, 2016
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And their specialties are really special.
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Whoever ate those raw sausages could be in for an interesting evening.
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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Jul 28, 2015
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With the weather so crap we’ve conceded that it might be a rest day. I reserve the right to reassess this afternoon though. Because of this I decided it was time to deal with what is affectionately called the stinky bag. These are a set of very nice laundry bags we stole from the Park Hyatt in Saigon that we use to put all the dirty clothes in while we travel.

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I pulled on the rainproof jacket and my theoretically weatherproof commuter trousers (untested at this point) and trudged down to Bruyères where the closest laundromat is.

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The path was sufficiently treacherous with the melt and rain making the going slow and slippery.

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It’s about an 8-10 minute walk to Bruyères from Reberty 1850 but it does have two elevators to help with the altitude change both ways.

When you get to Bruyères the laundromat is pretty much bang on where Google maps puts it.

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I’ve also tagged where the toilet is as the signs are somewhat lacking. It’s essentially directly across from the Speed Mountain ticket counter where the nasty lady was.

Do note that it is one level below “ground” where all the shops are so you need to take the stairs down.

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Once inside you are greeted with two large driers, 3 x 6kg and 1x 18kg washing machines, and a control box.

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Everything is pretty straightforward. You put your clothes in whichever machine you want to use, then you enter the number of the machine on the control box and insert money. It takes coins and notes up to €20.

Washing is €5.50 (40 minute cycle) and drying is €2/10 minutes. Washing liquid is included in the price.

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I decided that it was unlikely that anyone would want to mess with my undies so I went upstairs to La Chouette. They have a real espresso machine and do a decent double for €3.40

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The wifi password is lachouette2016.

Once the 40 mins was up I transferred the dryer-able stuff to the drier and waited the 10 minutes. It got most things pretty dry, with the rest being able to be hung up on the bathroom radiator in the hotel.

Trudging back up the hill was a little bit more effort due to the water run off being more extensive and more cars driving around. There are very few footpaths so you have to walk on the road most of the way.

For the record my Arcteryx commuter pants did a fine job with the rain pretty much running off. A++ would buy on sale again.
 

Kenzie

Addicted
Sep 23, 2019
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Thanks for the photos of the Ronnie - it has changed some since back in the day - that brolly on the sun terrace, for one!
Harping back to my recommendation of knowing the closing times of the inter-valley links, a recent example of when it goes wrong:-


And the rain - it happens! One of the reasons I'd always recommend visiting as high an altitude resort as possible. Could be time to go up to the area above Val Thorens?
But doing your laundry on a bad weather day - a real ski bum trick - including shlepping off to the bar whilst the cycle runs!
 
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elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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Jul 28, 2015
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The afternoon remained shit. It rained all day. It’s still raining now at 8.30pm.

Lunch time Came around so we took the opportunity to take the free shuttle bus down to Croisette, which is the “heart” of the Les Menuires resort. Each of the main areas of Les Menuires is serviced by one of these busses. A goes to Reberty, B goes to Bruyères etc. They have stops every few hundred meters along their routes with little hut things. The A line to the top of Reberty runs on a twenty minute loop.

There is also an inter resort shuttle to Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel that stops at the main station too.

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Busses are standard ski resort ones with lots of standing room and a few seats.

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We chose to eat at La Perdrix Blanche because it was open and it had room, which on a wet day were two very redeeming qualities.

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It was pretty much like most of the on mountain restaurants, offering the usual French fare, but also had an extensive pizza menu (you could also order takeaway pizzas from a counter outside.) The boys had burgers of differing cheese types, while the wife and I had tortellini and a napolitane (anchovi) pizza respectively.

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The food left us merely whelmed. Nothing to write home about. But they did have a decent bottle of local Cuvée.

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They also had an unusual spicy oil that the waiter called pizza sauce. I’ve never seen that before. It was sort of nice. Like Chili oil but not quite.

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After lunch we strolled through the maze of shops under the main ski area. It changed levels with stairs a lot, and reminded me of walking from the Prince West to Prince East in Shiga Kogen if you’ve ever stayed there.

We found some decent sized meringues

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And bought some snacks from the Carefoure (they also have a much larger Sherpa supermarket here than in Reberty if you are staying in self contained accom).

We also found some signs that made us all laugh for infantile reasons.

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I’m not sure I would pay €15 to enter the fartage competition!

Hopefully the rain stops at midnight like the weather forecast says and we get a little snow down low to top up.

Apparently up above 2000m it was snow all day!
 
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elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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It stoped raining about 10.30ish. It was too dark to see if it kept snowing (and I fell asleep).

We’ve woken to what feels like 1-3°C but no rain. I think we are going to get our moneys worth from our Mindbenders in the slush over the next few days.

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Aliens or groomers?
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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Day 18 maybe? I’ve lost track. This family has way too many holidays.

The above photo was groomers. And they did a great job with some slushy warm mess.

No updates to the breakfast buffet. Same awesomeness in the spread. Same crap coffee. I have one or two more of the single use coffee bags I bought from home that I should use.

We stepped outside to a lovely blue sky.

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It felt like it was gunna be a great day. Learning from our mistake a couple of days ago we went straight down to The Roc1 gondola (small line nothing too bad) and then across to the roc2 chair to take us up to the summit so we could cross over to Meribel.

We chose to head to Meribel as we had booked in to Le Corbeleys in Saint Martin for lunch. I forget who recommended it but we booked for today a couple of days back so a morning in Meribel and a quick pop back over for lunch seemed like a wise choice.

Now there are two options when you get to the top of Roc2 that take you to Meribel. On the paper map they are both red runs and both look pretty similar. I say this because they have a minor, yet oh so significant difference.

If you turn right off the chair you can find a left turn a little way down that takes you on to a perfectly groomed and oh so wide red run down to the bottom of Plans Des Mains. This is ideal team elSpike skiing. I’m certain that it would have been wonderful so early in the morning. We would have carved that bad boy right up and loved every minute of it. But sliding doors and all that…

Now. If you reach the top, and there is low cloud so you can’t really see. And so you ski over to the pole with the run names and you see one direction with no sign for Meribel (right to that aforementioned magnificent perfect run) and you see a sign pointing left that clearly says Meribel and it has a red sign which looks identical to all other red signs that you have done for the past week you would choose that side. I did.

We skied down and yep. There was one of those really big Meribel signs so I knew we were going the right way, and I could see skiers over that way so yep all on track.

As we head in that direction suddenly the groomed run stops and it’s ungroomed. Oh. Maybe I missed the groomed turn off I thought. Oh well. We can transit over to where the groomed run will be just 30 or 50 meters ahead. No problems…

The cloud thins…

Man this ungroomed bit is taking a while. Oh well I’ll just lean back a bit and we’ll get to the groomed bit in no time…

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This is me having the first of 4 “unscheduled little rests” on the way down this run.

Friends. Our family is not very good at off piste. We are not very good when there is too much accumulation on groomed runs. Anything more than boot deep fine powder and it gets dicy.

This was a fully ungroomed, rain affected, shin deep, nightmare trail of doom. At one point I was on my back, head down the run, double ejected, deciding if I would have better luck just picking up my skis and struggling to walk down.

This wasn’t powder that we have made work in Japan. It was thick, gluggy badness masquerading as snow.

On a positive note, we weren’t the only ones having difficulty. Almost every other skier and boarder on that run at the same time with us was struggling just as much. One of the funniest things I saw was a lady who would stand up. Dust herself off. Reattach her skis. Start skiing for one swoop. Crash. Repeat. By the end she was just sending it straight down till she crashed. Resigned to her fate.

20 minutes later we were through, sweating profusely, and laying on the side of the piste.

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In hindsight, if you check the info button on the three valleys app it says clearly (downstairs in a disused lavatory with a soften saying beware of the leopard) that it is an ungroomed run. I do give them that. But it isn’t very obvious before it is too late.

We met up with some other people who were there at the same time as us (returning lost property) and they too said in very curt germanic English “That was a challenge. Yes?”

So if you like this sort of thing this is the run.

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Mouflon. May I never see (or ski) you again. Ever.

Thankfully the rest of the day was significantly easier.

The overnight rain wreaked havoc on the accumulated snow leaving somewhat beautiful patterns.

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Once on the Meribel side we played on the runs beside Chatelet (a mix of slush and ice) and Plan Des Mains (very nice) before reaching Meribel-Mottaret and the first of the crowds.

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We then took Combes all the way to the top and came down the mix of reds and blues (Coq is a fav) to catch Legends to get back to Saint Martin for lunch. Coming down off the windy blue called Lièvre we were greeted with a massive set of lines.

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It really gave us a pause on what we should do as our original plan was not looking great. We’ve learnt here in 3 Valleys, whenever a line has grown long enough to escape the corrals and start to “fan” out as people join from multiple angles l, it means you are going to have a significantly longer wait than if it was just a snaking line. People mess about trying to stay in groups or they leave a gap and someone comes in from the side. It’s not the orderly lines of Japan that we are used to.

As we skied down I realised that the longest line was for the ticket office not the Tougnette gondola so we took that. Waiting barely 5-10 minutes.

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The ticket line was at least 200m long and this was at 11.10 in the morning. I felt bad for all those people. But not really bad. Just a little bit.

We’ve been trying to catch gondolas by ourselves as much as possible but with the volume of people we had to share. Yet again we had people who had their masks half down, and who immediately started coughing. I swear we will be the luckiest people alive to escape this trip without getting covid. Pretty much every single time we have been forced to share a chair or a gondola we’ve had either a cougher, a non mask wearer or both. Grr.

At the top it was an easy blue down to Le Corbeleys, with a icy icy section that was like ice skating. Luckily it was on one of the flatter sections so it was a lot of fun!

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We secured our reserved table (they had mixed it up and put us inside on the booking but quickly solved) and started to peruse the menus.

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I should really go back and check who recommended here. Whoever it was, I owe you a beer. What an exceptional meal.

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After our meal was done we pulled on our skates and hightailed back to Les Menuires to go do the aforementioned lost property return by meeting up with our new German family friends.

I of course pulled on my Coco Chanel endorsed ensemble @Hyst

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(Aka using an accidentally taken photo)
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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Jul 28, 2015
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The rest of the afternoon was just great skiing. Sure some of the runs were looking a little tired and moguled up. Sure the snow was a little slushy at times and the temperatures reached the positive two digits at times. But it was fun.

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So all up after a slightly rocky start, the day ended with smiles all round, a couple of wines for the parents on the hotel terrace, and another great buffet dinner.

Lovely.

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elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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Jul 28, 2015
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New Years Eve 2021

As promised it was indeed a bluebird day with some absolutely fantastic skiing.

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Over breakfast we planned out the day. We figured it was goi g to be busy everywhere so why not just take a bit of a tour over to Courchevel to have a little bit of a looksee.

We got out on to the snow by 9.10 so the crowds hadn’t formed at the bottom of Les Menuires and we could see Mont De La Chambre was spinning so we decided to take the top way over to Meribel.

Getting to the top of Les Menuires we hit the first of our lines of the day at Chambre.

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Luckily it was spinning fast so the wait was no more than 10 minutes. At the top we took the long blue down to Plan Des Mains but it seemed like the entire resort was up there too.

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The rest of the journey through Meribel was pretty tame with a bit of a pile up at the Pas Du Lac gondola, but we solved that by joining the single rider line and each going up as a +1 in successive gondolas. Once over to Courchevel the crowds thinned a little (but we’re still present).

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The snow has been through a couple of thaw/freeze cycles so it is very variable in condition. The shaded areas remained the best throughout the day, though there are large sections of ice where the groomers have done their best but it’s really just a snow cone topping on an ice rink.

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We then spent the rest of the morning lapping the Aiguille Du Fruit lift which has a bunch of red and blue options off it while still being high. Mr16 came unstuck on one of the laps and managed to hit and get hit by another skier. I didn’t see it happen but as I came on the scene I realised it was him, and in my haste to pull up I caught an edge and went down pretty hard myself. It felt like I’d scraped my leg on the ice but I was ok. I did feel some moisture on my leg but thought maybe some snow had got in. More on that later.

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The views on the top section of Courchevel are spectacular. They remind me a lot of the tree lined runs in Japan.

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Just before 12 we returned to the restaurant we’d seen on our laps called La Cave Des Creux.

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We had no idea what we were getting in to as we kicked off the skis but the place looked cute.

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I should have known something was up by the sheer number of staff they had on. There were at least 10 for the outdoor section alone. Most of the other restaurants we’ve been to on this trip would have had 2 max.

We asked if they had room for 4 to eat and the head waiter said they were fully booked but luckily another guy who wasn’t in a uniform overheard and came over. A quick discussion in French took place with some pointing towards the restaurant and they said we could have a table inside right now. Score.

We walked past the dessert buffet on the way in.

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All the little details started coming together. The polish of everything was just that little bit upmarket. They led us to a 6 top table which had already been set and quickly removed two settings before sitting us down.

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The drinks waiter came over and asked if we wanted anything to drink while we got settled, which I replied with our standard ask of a big bottle of sparkling water. He disappeared and yet another waiter came out and distributed the menus, insisting on handing to my wife first before me and the boys. Again with the little touches the had my spider senses tingling.

I flipped open the menu and immediately knew that we were in for a treat, while old Victor Visa was in for a pummelling.

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“Dad, I knew this place was fancy when I saw that oranginas are double the price!” - Mr 13

Hey. It’s New Year’s Eve and we are in the French Alps. Sometimes you can splurge a bit.

The boys went with the Caves Des Cruix burgers (it was a good burger dad, but not a $50 burger)

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While the wife went the chicken with Morel mushroom sauce

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And I went with my absolute favourite of Beef Tartare.

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I know I’ve said this multiple times, but it was the meal of the trip. So good. So thoughtfully put together. Perfect. With a price tag that wouldn’t be out of place in Paris, but we were above 2000m so I’m sure there is a premium for that too.

Stuffed to the gills, we headed out where I managed to get a sweetie with their mascot cow.

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elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
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After lunch we headed lower into the Courchevel valley, passing by the Courchevel Airport, made famous by this scene:



The temps had climbed into the high single digits again so the snow became sodden and slushy, and the lower into the valley we got the more people we had to contend with.

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We did get some pretty great views from the gondolas though.

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And at the top of the Biollay chair I found this guy!

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By 2.15ish we’d had enough and started to make our way back. There one one notable section of the red run between Biollay and Vezelle where it was just sheet ice for a good 150m at about a 10-12% gradient. It was carnage with people all over the place.



Cutting back through Meribel, we came down from the Saulire pass.

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The whole way down on that 7ish km run was a mess of people, class groups, and soggy and spongy, melting snow. We were all sweating buckets by the time we reached the Meribel Center and rhe Tougnette gondola.

Once again we got split on the gondolas but the boys and I managed to get one with a couple of Lads from Sydney. It’s always great to hear another Aussie accent wherever you are int eh world.

From the top of Tougnette we took the now quite familiar Gross Tongue and Villette back to Menuires.

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A lot of the rain runneld surfaces were positively glowing as the baked in the warmth of the sun.

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We let the boys ski ahead and return to the hotel while the adults again stopped in at L’Etoile for an afternoon drink in the sun.

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I’ve still yet to find the one place I’ve seen the Bombadino in reviews so it was a glass of the local red for me and a vin chaud for the wife.

The sun went behind the range and temps dropped quickly by about 3.30-4 so we hightailed in ourselves.

As I peeled off my layers of thermals I found out why I had that liquid feeling on my leg…

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I’d managed to take a pretty decent gouge out of my shin in my fall but it really don’t hurt as much as that image makes it seem. I gave it a bit of a clean and it seems to be fine so far. We have some dressings with us too but I think I’ll just air it out overnight and tough it out. Nothing a bit of ibuprofen a wonderful view and keeping it clean won’t fix.

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Dinner tonight was another special menu (for New Years)

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Another seafood heavy buffet entree - what’s with seafood in the mountains by the way?

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And then a choice of a beef tenderloin or turbot risotto.

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And then a wonderfully French dessert with champagne jelly, pop rocks infused white chocolate, mouse and red berrys.

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This was all finished with the usual extensive cheese cart and some interesting truffles.

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I’m now writing this with a very full stomach!

This ends 2021. I do want to thank each of you I have interacted with here both this year and over the past few years. I love being a part of this community and hope 2022 sees all of us able to ski in all of the places we’d like to. I’m looking forward to meeting more of you in person this year too!
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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New Year’s Day.

It was very quiet first thing this morning. Maybe 4 ski school classes. No lines on the venerable Les Menuires or Mont Del La Chambre.

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Today we skied off in the direction of Val Thorens. No real plan other than to avoid the village run as much as possible.

We skied the runs around 3 valleys lift while there were few people.

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We then went down into the village proper, our only time there. The run through the actual center (I think it’s called Roc) was chewed up to hell and filled with pizza aficionados. Three of us zoomed through as quickly as we could while Mr16 stopped to take a photo of something (we found that out later) which separated the group.

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The three of us met up just above the 2 Lac chair and then proceeded to wait not knowing what had happened. I spotted Mr16 about 300m further up the trail and did my best to wave and do the “look here” things but he didn’t see us.

This is where our standard procedure let us down.

This trip we got everyone an eSIM with data on it. This is the first time we’ve done it for the children, choosing to use Airalo who sell an estimate from Bonbon Mobile. Bonbon is an MNO Who piggy back on Bouygues Télécom and SFR, the Optus and Vodaphone of the French telco set. Unfortunately Mr16’s coverage wasn’t optimal during this part of our ski day.

Thus the standard procedure, which if you get separated is to stop at the closest lift and message the group, didn’t work.

Finally after a few minutes he put on his real glasses* and spotted a wildly gesturing man and we were reunited.

We then went up 2lac as we had skipped through this section the other day that we were here and were reminded that this area was not going to be in the sun for some time.

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After a quick consult on the map, it was decided that Orelle with its east facing pistes would be the ideal spot for the morning.

This required a quick run down Hermine to the Moutiers lift.

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And then down to the Grand Fond Gondola.
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Grand Fond is a standing gondola that I think normally would take about 35 people, but due to Covid precautions… who am I kidding!… they packed us in like sardines! Luckily we got to stand on the edge and pretend that we weren’t breathing in everyone else’s exhalations.
Once we got to the top we were treated to some truely spectacular views of Val Thorens and Les Menuires. The photos don’t do it justice.

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From there we scooted through the pass to Orelle and we’re treated to some of the best skiing we’ve had this trip.

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Orelle is a small area with 4 lifts and maybe a dozen combinations of runs. But each run is about 3-3.5km long and they were groomed to perfection. The sun was just warm enough to soften but not melt the snow too.

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Around 11.40 we stopped at the restaurant at the bottom of Orelle. I think it’s called Chalet Chinal Donat but I might be wrong. It has a full restaurant and a self service area. As we were early we chose the self service area for some Oranginas and Cookies.

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It was fairly busy but finding a table wasn’t too difficult.

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Mr13 was doing his best Steve McQueen impression.
Oh. And we found a strong contender for best ski outfit of the trip too!

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After our snacks we did another couple of runs and headed back up to Col de Rosael to cross back into Val Thorens and find some real lunch.

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Ill continue in the next post.



* we got Mr16 a Goggle insert but it is only really good for his near to middle distance vision. He has terrible eyesight. His normal glasses do a much better job at far distances.

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elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
1,010
3,289
363
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The return to Val Thorens was a very easy red and blue run called Chamois and Falaise which took us down past the restaurant at the top of Moutiers chair.

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It’s a bit of a vanilla place with all the usual mountain restaurant staples. The boys split a classic burger, my wife had the chicken Cesar salad (pan fried chicken not deep fried like most others) and I stuck to a beer and some water still full from the cookie (and my stomach isn’t feeling so good after all of the rich food over the past couple of days).

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Prices were pretty standard. The food did take a long time to come but we enjoyed sitting in the sun and just breathing in the mountain air.

We then spent some time collecting the various runs off Moutiers and Plan de L’Eau with the Tétras run a firm favourite.

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By about 2.30 thoughts turned to home so we repeated the long cruisey transfer along and Cumin all the way to the bottom Doron.

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Then it was just a simple scoot down to our hotel.

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Starting the year with an easy day on the snow is so great. I highly recommend it if you have the means
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
1,010
3,289
363
The day after New Years, when all the crowds go away.

I’ll never get tired of waking up to this view.

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Nor eating breakfast to this one.

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With only five skiing days left in this holiday we are trying to soak up all the routes and resorts, but that needs to be balanced with the lack of recent snow and the disastrous rain of a few days ago. The snowpack depth has dramatically reduced all over and the lower reaches of the resorts have been though just one too many freezer thaw cycles.

With that said we discussed over breakfast and decided that we would give the upper reaches of Courchavel and some laps of Saint Martin a go.

This plan lasted all of 3 minutes.

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Looking down at the groomers work on 3 Marches had us questioning that plan.

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Riding it challenged the fundamentals of the plan.

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And then a chance spotting of an important change had us tearing up the plan.

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Mouflon. Our white whale of the trip. The one where we took 20 minutes to descend because it’s horrible ungroomed mess left us without the ability to string turns together coherently was… *gasp* groomed!

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Not only was it groomed. It was fun! It had a fine layer of snow over a not ice base so we could tear down it with abandon. So great.

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That then gave us the drive to stay hit and play in the upper parts of Meribel.

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We climbed the mighty Mont Vallon and braved its 25° angled ice rink. (Seriously though. Combe de Vallon was literally just shaving ice the whole way down)

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And undeterred we flew back over and down to St Martin to see if it was as fun as we remembered.

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Unfortunately the lower reaches of Saint Martin were very soft and a bit threadbare. But it was time for lunch.

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We found a sneaky little restaurant just off the top of the Saint Martin Express called Maya Altitude. You need to turn left off the express and head toward the Jerusalem run to find it.

It has a proper sit down restaurant with some very tasty Indian options but we decided to hit the snack bar because of one major reason.

They had these chairs out.

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With this view.



The menu also had some better options for the dietary requirements of our family.

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I’m told the chicken kebab was delicious

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After lunch we continued on…

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Last edited:

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
1,010
3,289
363
I’ve just tried a couple of times to edit posts with lots of photos with most failing with some error and the reloading the page. You’ll just have to live with my mistakes and autocorrects till I get home.
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
1,010
3,289
363
I forgot to say and couldn’t edit the previous post. The run from the top of Roc2 all the way down to the bottom of Saint Martin is a solid 8.3km. If you want your 50+ km days you need to include it in your day!

After lunch we headed back into Meribel and down the runs beside Olympic chair which I didn’t know existed.

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They are really fun though we’re a bit torn up by the time we got to them.

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We thoroughly enjoyed the top part of the Roc De Fer summit with its super wide swooping turns.

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Mr13 always loves a run with tunnels so Gèlenoitte had to be done twice.

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On the way down my wife caught this excellent pic of me in front of Meribel-Montaret too.

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We then headed down to the Meribel valley to catch Legends and Tougnette up.

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The boys finished with their favourites Gross Tongue (what a name!) and Violet which are a long skate into Les Menuires.

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We let them skate back to the hotel while we took up our usual residence at La E’loite for an afternoon drink.

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As the afternoon was still young, we couldn’t bring ourselves to head back in yet so we again took Les Menuires and Chambre up to the summit.

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As we reached the summit we could see the potential for a light dusting of snow in the clouds off in the distance. If you know any snow dances, please proceed to do them.

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We then spent an hour around the Becca lift before turning for home ourselves.

Some days are full of surprises.

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elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
1,010
3,289
363
Solo day

Unfortunately it was a bit of a rough night for my wife who had a bit of a food related (we assume) upset stomach, so she decided it was best if she didn’t ski today. Sensing an opportunity, the boys also stuck their paws in the air for a rest day, which left me with the unenviable task to spend some quality alone time with my skis and some rather empty pistes.

I decided early that I would ski just a half day and then take the boys (and our ever growing pile of laundry) down to Brueyers for lunch.

Knowing I had limited time I chose to stick to well groomed pistes in the quieter areas of Menuires.

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As it turned out, everywhere was quiet today.

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The sun was largely obscured by clouds but occasionally it would poke its head out.
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And while the pistes are in desperate need of a top up. They were running so nicely. The groomers are working magic by transporting snow from some of the higher stashed down to the areas that need it.

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But the results spoke for themselves.

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I don’t recall waiting for a lift more than 2 chairs the entire morning.

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All up a respectable little jaunt for just under 4 hours.

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A quick return and change of clothes and I walked down with the boys. The lack of snow on the paths was dramatic with most roads now free of ice.

I did manage to snap a pic of one of the bus stops along the way.

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Once the clothes were doing their thing in the machine we stopped back at La Chouette for a galette lunch.

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Mr13 continued with his Orangina restaurant rating scheme, declaring that this was a good value lunch restaurant as they only cost €3.70 here!

I had the complet (ham egg and cheese)

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While the boys had a Savoyard each which had local sausage, onion and a lot of cheese.

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One of the dryers was kaput so it took a little longer to dry and an extra €2 for the next 10 minute cycle. Maybe it thought I was English?

We had planned to stop in at Sherpa for some more snacks but we’re thwarted by their siesta hours. I really should take a photo of them to share with you all.

One thing I can say after nearly 550km of skiing over the past couple of weeks is that the walk back up to Reberty 2000 is definitely more taxing than the walk down!

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The sky is putting on a bit of a special show while we wait for dinner too.

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Kash

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jul 9, 2007
1,006
1,386
363
Sydney
Great update. Seeing all these lifts is nice and familiar to me having ridden there 3 yrs ago. Hope you get some more fresh stuff soon. Certainly looking good for this week.

3 vallees must almost seem affordable to your son for is OJ scale compared to Singapore!?
 

LDJ

One of Us
Ski Pass
Apr 23, 2017
597
689
263
We climbed the mighty Mont Vallon and braved its 25° angled ice rink. (Seriously though. Combe de Vallon was literally just shaving ice the whole way down)
Absolutely loving the report great work. My younger brother still complains about the Combe de Vallon. When I took him down it 2 days after a huge powder dump. I loved it playing in cropped up powder around the piste. He loved the views but not the the large moguls down the full length of it. It was the most tiring run he has ever done. There was steam coming out of him, jelly legs and all manner of sounds. Thanks for reminding me of some great memoriesROFL
 
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elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
1,010
3,289
363
Absolutely loving the report great work. My younger brother still complains about the Combe de Vallon. When I took him down it 2 days after a huge powder dump. I loved it playing in cropped up powder around the piste. He loved the views but not the the large moguls down the full length of it. It was the most tiring run he has ever done. There was steam coming out of him, jelly legs and all manner of sounds. Thanks for reminding me of some great memoriesROFL

Thanks for one of the most detailed trip reports ever

We should be there this time next year....

You are both welcome!

Given about 50% of the report is food based - Zermatt for you & family next time?

While I like the idea of Zermatt I don’t think the value for money is there. Maybe once the boys have flown the coop.

I like to post the restaurant menus etc, as they are the things I stress about the most. We have unusual dietary requirements across the team so sometimes it is difficult.
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
1,010
3,289
363
Last day Eve Eve. So by that logic it is Last Day Adam. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Only three skiing days left on this trip. How time flies when you are having fun. When you get to this point you start really making sure you milk the most out of your day.

Conditions were very similar to yesterday with the added bonus of howling wind; but I’ll get to that in a bit.

We followed the usual routine of a 7.45am message being posted to our family group: “Food?” This precipitated a flurry of pulling on clothes and clomping down the stairs (we are on the 1st floor so it’s quicker to take the stairs than wait for the lift) and over to the dining hall for breakfast. Juice, coffee/tea, yoghurt, fresh bread, pancakes, Mr16s ubiquitous plate of 3 sausages, 3 hash browns and a pain au chocolate or raisin scroll, and Mr13’s bowl chocolate cornflake things with an added sprinkle of either more chocolate or crushed smarties. All the nutrients a skiing family could desire.

Sometimes we get to choose our table. Sometimes we are shown to an arbitrary one. I haven’t worked out the rhyme or reason for this and to be honest I’m not sure the staff know either.

We have been here for almost two weeks. The only Australians. We are asked for our room numbers every meal. Every. Single. Time. I know all of their names, but it is still a surprise to them each time we say “une une une aux une une deux!”

The school holidays are over here but there are a lot of extended families staying so we made a plan to be in the boot room 15 minutes early to avoid the 9am rush hour. It was the right plan as we were leaving as a hoard of people started streaming in.

With my wife’s still slightly fragile stomach we decided to stay in Menuires again for the day. As we were early Mont de La Chambre wasn’t running yet so we did a quick loop of the main Menuires front slope. The snow that remained was running fantastically but there were brown patches all over.

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After that run Chambre had started spinning with very few people so we went straight to the top. Once there we were greeted with some incredible skiing, lightly groomed and super fast, but very little ice due to the warmer temps, and some gale force winds.

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It was unreal. I was skis pointed straight down a fairly challenging red and barely moving. At one point Mr13 was sliding backwards because his jacket was acting as a sail! Undeterred, we soldiered on and found respite a little further off the summit of most runs.

Coming down off that first summit run we could see that the Chambre line was filling up to the point that it was about a 10 minute wait each time so we decided to copy my yesterday move of lapping Sunny instead. It runs diagonally across the main valley of Menuires going about 2/3rds the way to the summit (near the start of the pixel park) but has some outstanding red/blue 3.5km runs.

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It had the added bonus of having a much shorter line. The only negative is the last 50m heading down to the lift was chopped up from the very beginning with soft, sluggish, snow piles. I’m not sure it fully froze overnight.

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After about 3 or 4 of those loops and Chambre remaining full or fuller each time we passed we diverted over to Becca to have a look. There is a lovely (and somewhat sneaky as it is inadequately signposted) red linking run below the pixel park. Be careful though as there is a mogulled black run if you choose the wrong path.

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We lapped Becca a couple of times as it was running so sweet.

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We then stopped for lunch in probably the last place we hadn’t eaten in called L’Eskis just above the top of the St Martin Express gondola.

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I’ve never heard of Polenta referred to as cornmeal mush but it’s definitely en pointe!

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The food was serviceable. Not great. Not bad. But decent value and the restaurant was much nicer than the exterior implied.

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Lunch done we went back the Granges and did another lap of Grand Lac, but on the way we saw that the drag lift up to the top of Teppes was running so we came back down to take it. This is not your grandma’s drag lift people. It’s an icy death cliff where people are dragged to their doom. I’m 184cm tall and this thing got me airborne a couple of times. It would pulse at each of the pulley wheels and launch you up the cliff with a burst of speed and slight directional change.

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Mr16 and I managed to hang on. Mr13 made it about 1/3rd of the way up while my wife made it 2/3rd. A snowboarder behind her also got dumped in the same spot too.

The reward at the top was quite something though.

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Once we regrouped we took Granges back up to the top. I spotted this bin on skis. I don’t know why it made me laugh but it did.

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The wind was still howling which stopped one a few of the chairs. I can see why…

You should press play on this. It’s pretty wild.



We then made our way back across the Menuires resort, re-skiing some of the same runs of the morning.

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The snow down low was pretty soft and squishy by this point so we did one more run all the way down to Doran and called it a day.

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The family had an afternoon of siestas and iPad while I walked down to Reberty 1850 for churros and chocaltate chaud. (I offered to take them but they didn’t want to. They are weird)

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Another day done.

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CarveMan

Tremendous Slouch
Ski Pass
May 12, 2000
88,908
81,139
1,515
Les Hautes Montagnes
aussieskier.com
While I like the idea of Zermatt I don’t think the value for money is there
Yep Switzerland is next level expensive. I have a mate in Verbier that I try to catch up with most times we go to France. You can just feel the cash seeping out of your pores whenever you cross the border.

I spent a week in Verbier about 11 years ago and while it wasn't cheap it feels like things have really jumped since. Shame, as there is some superb skiing in Switzerland, I think if I won Tatts that's where I'd buy a chalet.
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
1,010
3,289
363
1mm of ice coating the goggle lens. When we came in my GoPro was completely iced over. This my be the only photo today…

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There is about a foot of snow in places. Unfortunately we cannot see any of those places!

It’s still snowing.
 

Kenzie

Addicted
Sep 23, 2019
150
130
113
55
While I like the idea of Zermatt I don’t think the value for money is there. Maybe once the boys have flown the coop.

I like to post the restaurant menus etc, as they are the things I stress about the most. We have unusual dietary requirements across the team so sometimes it is difficult.
Zermatt is not cheap but there are cheaper ways of doing the area:-
1) Stay in Breuil-Cervinia or Valtournenche in Italy
2) Stay in Zermatt, but lunch in Italy (better of the two, in my opinion)

The two times I skiied in Zermatt (once in April, once in September) I used these guys:- https://otp.co.uk/ (small bespoke tour operator) on a B&B basis - they were good at pointing me towards (relatively) cheap places to eat of an evening.
The one time I skiied (January) I used these guys:- inghams.co.uk (large tour operator) on a half-board basis.

Recent discussion on doing Zermatt 'cheap' here:-
 

Hyst

Enjoyer
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Nov 23, 2014
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1mm of ice coating the goggle lens. When we came in my GoPro was completely iced over. This my be the only photo today…

05A2D685-24DF-49E3-A96D-4A92512523D6.jpeg


There is about a foot of snow in places. Unfortunately we cannot see any of those places!

It’s still snowing.
Oh you are eating inside? Hade looked forward for Ice-burger foto! :wave:

Happy few more days - hopeful with a little snow.

Hopefully my party can make it to France soon- the Brit part is in big trouble.
 
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Kenzie

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7B1E2BE9-B5C2-4BD1-988D-EA1E38098AC6.jpeg


After that run Chambre had started spinning with very few people so we went straight to the top. Once there we were greeted with some incredible skiing, lightly groomed and super fast, but very little ice due to the warmer temps, and some gale force winds.

1DC9A892-5EC5-4223-9FAC-844ABB503175.jpeg


It was unreal. I was skis pointed straight down a fairly challenging red and barely moving. At one point Mr13 was sliding backwards because his jacket was acting as a sail! Undeterred, we soldiered on and found respite a little further off the summit of most runs.

Get into your racing tucks!
 
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elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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Jul 28, 2015
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2nd last day of SkiSki

We fell asleep dreaming of the snow that was promised and awoke to find a little gift on the balcony rail that had portent for things to come. Hotel Ours Blanc is a very warm establishment, and not especially well insulated as we’ve found that accumulation on the rail is about half of that on the tables one layer below, and about a third of what’s on the pistes.

3060DFA0-B6F2-4C80-844F-12CA6517E187.jpeg


We took the now ritualised buffet breakfast and again decided to aim for an 8.45am arrival in the boot room to avoid the crowds. This payed off again with the only tracks outside having been made by the staff heading for the recycling bins out the back.

1303262F-90E7-4E63-B877-CB8DFD651CBC.jpeg


The sky was looking a little bit ominous though…

It’s become habit for me to take Mr13 and my skis out to the cat track each morning in order to minimise the kerfuffle of him trying to get past people putting their boots on. I split the skis and dropped them into the snow with pleasing results.

BB2E563A-F087-45F1-BFA7-F889575ECB64.jpeg


Once everyone gathered at our meeting spot outside the E’loite bar, we did our first run down to Menuires to start the day. The groomers had done their job, and Mother Nature had added her own little dusting after to make it very fun.

10935DF3-CBCE-4CA2-A867-2F4B4408E71F.jpeg


B7A235D4-11E5-4104-BB51-6822B84DD090.jpeg


The snow was still falling at this point, forcing me to try to wipe off the GoPro lens before taking each picture. I was largely successful until I wasn’t. You’ll see that a little later on.

The usual crowds were forming at the ski school rally point but the numbers were still manageable. It’s definitely much quieter than the week between Christmas and New Years.

697C5B62-BAAE-4201-9419-2A4B9BA53550.jpeg


With Chambre not running yet we chose to pop down to Sunny Express and do the transverse runs to get the lay of the land. Down low the visibility was ok.

50ED22A7-7D28-4186-AEDC-1C921131C677.jpeg


But as we climbed higher it got progressively worse.

6B7D4F34-0752-4C3B-87C1-46940CB831C2.jpeg

2228F11F-DB5F-4C93-936B-EC7515DF400E.jpeg


And then skiing anywhere above about 2100m became a bit of a game of spot the piste posts, if you were the leader, or try to keep in sight of someone ahead of you, if not.

1054378C-458B-447F-B9B5-6B4E28A392D5.jpeg

C7C9AF15-81EB-41FC-990F-6A21A1379ED8.jpeg


We transited over to Becca to see if it was better, and while the visibility improved a little…

0746E0FD-181E-43B0-BC8D-785B292002CA.jpeg


The temperature started to drop, especially in the gullies or in the sheltered sections of runs. It was like thermal pockets that we experience in the jungle of Singapore but on a much grander scale.

6F2E3E97-1768-4DA8-8FD3-DD5BBE8B168A.jpeg


We then headed to the top of Roc2 with a transit over to St Martin on the cards to get just that little bit lower to maybe avoid the mist and clouds.

The moment we got off the chair at the summit the temperature dropped about 3°C and as we turned left to get on to the Grand Lac run the sleet and snow started sticking to our lenses. It was insane how quickly it happened.

CD302FBF-EC10-409F-AAD8-A2671D66FC7E.jpeg


I was literally scraping the goggles at each turn trying to get some sort of visibility. It was almost futile, with each wipe maybe creating a small slit of clear vision.

My GoPro fully iced up at that point, with my occasional remembering to give it warp having zero effect. I have about 20 photos that came out like this.

D4FF0FBD-CA8E-4266-8D98-910BEECB8CD8.jpeg


That 2.5km run, usually an absolute joy in all previous conditions, was a nightmare. It was so tough and made our previous jokes of “skiing by braille” a farce. My wife has problems with motion sickness when her vision is impaired so this really set her back. It was touch and go on whether we’d get to see the buffet again! As you saw above, everyone’s googles were coated in about 1mm of ice, and Mr13 graduated to a full blown 1000m stare. That boy had seen some stuff (or not as the case may be)

88B83E0F-E220-41B1-BCE6-A2F802DADA5B.jpeg


By unspoken, and unanimous action, we all unclipped our skis at the cafe beside the Granges lift.

6D7551AB-674F-4192-B2ED-CED639710692.jpeg


We would go no further till we’d been administered with Chantilly cream and chocolate chaud STAT!

DBADE375-546B-48B1-ACC4-DA743EDB73B5.jpeg


The place was already packed with our fellow Icelandic refugees but we quickly secured a table near the fire and planned our next moves.

F950D019-97A7-437F-BFC8-CC2ECAEE4438.jpeg


We’ve only made it to morning tea on a very low viz day and I’ve already hit the 20 picture limit! On yo the next post!
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
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Zermatt is not cheap but there are cheaper ways of doing the area:-
1) Stay in Breuil-Cervinia or Valtournenche in Italy
2) Stay in Zermatt, but lunch in Italy (better of the two, in my opinion)

The two times I skiied in Zermatt (once in April, once in September) I used these guys:- https://otp.co.uk/ (small bespoke tour operator) on a B&B basis - they were good at pointing me towards (relatively) cheap places to eat of an evening.
The one time I skiied (January) I used these guys:- inghams.co.uk (large tour operator) on a half-board basis.

Recent discussion on doing Zermatt 'cheap' here:-
Thank you for these @Kenzie!

Super interesting. Will take a look later tonight!
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
1,010
3,289
363
2nd last day continued!

Once we’d settled our selves we decided to press on to St Martin and the hope of clearer skies. This turned out to be partially true. The remainder of the day seemed to be mercurial: Sometimes the visibility was shockingly bad, and other times a patch of blue sky would roll through. Sometimes you would get a patch of clarity for about 300m of vertical decent and then you’d dive back into a misty fog of doom.

We experienced all of the above of the Pelozet run to St Martin

CABFE8F4-5ADA-4B35-AFD6-389B6F6FDFDB.jpeg


9F6ECB28-60E4-478A-9022-1B6E4EB5E4F5.jpeg


Those two photos were taken on the same decent…

As we passed the St Martin Gondola/Express interchange my spider sense twitched and I stopped in to Le Corbeleys to see if they could fit us in for a 12.30pm lunch. Luckily we snagged the last indoor table booking! As the host was writing down my details another family asked if there was any room and were told the earliest was 2pm. Phew!

13385F2B-B8A7-4DC9-A32B-D033AC553924.jpeg


We then skied down to the bottom of St Martin but the piste condition was terrible, with ice and dirt patches everywhere. Add to that there were 3 different inversion layers of poor visibility on the 3km run. And to pile on another insult, we must have overtaken a half dozen conga lines of kids in their lesson bibs, sliding all over the place and stacking it every 30 meters. I can’t imagine trying to teach (or learn) in those conditions.

A36D3415-4017-48DD-801E-5BC2250BEB51.jpeg


The bottom of St Martin was very clear and the bunny slope was in full swing. It was like a whole different world. Unfortunately the journey down’s problems meant we didn’t get back down there and that it will probably be the last time we see it.

71FFC4D6-D0CC-4960-9EDA-7463105C3848.jpeg


WWE then caught both lifts to the top of Saint Martin intending to do a couple of laps before lunch.

D3A28709-9D91-44B7-B080-3E2E633A2DDB.jpeg


Unfortunately with visibility at the top was shocking again so it was hard going again.

One of my favourite runs has been a red called Pramint that parallels the St Martin Express. It’s a challenging piste with lots of off camber turns and some undulating sections, probably on the upper end of a red run. In low visibility with a bit of loose snow Is call it an early black. Unfortunately due to the visibility some people who shouldn’t be on such a run we’re taking it with some unfortunate consequences.

8FE791C8-2360-4C9E-ABF5-71D0818DEFAE.jpeg


12.30 came around and it was time for another great lunch at Corbeleys.

5FD64171-40EE-4DAB-BB04-2EA10D4CB54D.jpeg


4BD49D76-C18B-4B90-BBB0-2C989FA8651F.jpeg


2B66C18D-9DB0-43A9-AFBD-46EF83254D0D.jpeg


Followed by some delicious desserts.

AA035F96-F0E7-4DC6-B59C-227C2F3B346A.jpeg


F8554517-2D1D-4D34-8B3B-A309894E0C20.jpeg


The even finished the meal for the adults with a complimentary pair of Gènèpi.

A9A3719F-AF26-4616-8E2B-3E9A4644AFF3.jpeg


Now I’m an adventurous drinker people. I am usually willing to give anything the benefit of the doubt. But Gènèpi is not for me. If I was challenged to describe it, I would say it is mentholated spirits with a hint of laundry detergent. A solid no thanks.

Stepping back outside it was clear that the weather was not going to improve much so we agreed it was time to head towards home.

Again the visibility changed from moment to moment.

309D17A5-2743-4505-992A-2546EBD123B4.jpeg


Stepping out of the restaurant:

E8C9FB99-387A-4843-B4EC-F6759DACFBDB.jpeg


The violet run down to Les Menuires:



And then just above Bettex lift on the same run.

181DFAD7-89C4-429E-B626-7A9E73FE7AAF.jpeg


The boys headed in at that point, having nothing left to give to the day.

67A056FE-F988-4F1A-9856-95569478A2F4.jpeg


While my wife and I did a couple of runs down to the bottom of the valley while there was a clear spot in the weather.

612266F6-1029-4506-9111-803771F13C2A.jpeg


We then turned in just before 3 with the path looking a little more clear than we left it.

6FB7676B-A80B-44B3-B535-025AAF2800D8.jpeg
 

Hyst

Enjoyer
Ski Pass
Nov 23, 2014
2,947
2,334
363
66
Copenhagen
www.ahmadjoudeh.com
2nd last day continued!

Once we’d settled our selves we decided to press on to St Martin and the hope of clearer skies. This turned out to be partially true. The remainder of the day seemed to be mercurial: Sometimes the visibility was shockingly bad, and other times a patch of blue sky would roll through. Sometimes you would get a patch of clarity for about 300m of vertical decent and then you’d dive back into a misty fog of doom.

We experienced all of the above of the Pelozet run to St Martin

CABFE8F4-5ADA-4B35-AFD6-389B6F6FDFDB.jpeg


9F6ECB28-60E4-478A-9022-1B6E4EB5E4F5.jpeg


Those two photos were taken on the same decent…

As we passed the St Martin Gondola/Express interchange my spider sense twitched and I stopped in to Le Corbeleys to see if they could fit us in for a 12.30pm lunch. Luckily we snagged the last indoor table booking! As the host was writing down my details another family asked if there was any room and were told the earliest was 2pm. Phew!

13385F2B-B8A7-4DC9-A32B-D033AC553924.jpeg


We then skied down to the bottom of St Martin but the piste condition was terrible, with ice and dirt patches everywhere. Add to that there were 3 different inversion layers of poor visibility on the 3km run. And to pile on another insult, we must have overtaken a half dozen conga lines of kids in their lesson bibs, sliding all over the place and stacking it every 30 meters. I can’t imagine trying to teach (or learn) in those conditions.

A36D3415-4017-48DD-801E-5BC2250BEB51.jpeg


The bottom of St Martin was very clear and the bunny slope was in full swing. It was like a whole different world. Unfortunately the journey down’s problems meant we didn’t get back down there and that it will probably be the last time we see it.

71FFC4D6-D0CC-4960-9EDA-7463105C3848.jpeg


WWE then caught both lifts to the top of Saint Martin intending to do a couple of laps before lunch.

D3A28709-9D91-44B7-B080-3E2E633A2DDB.jpeg


Unfortunately with visibility at the top was shocking again so it was hard going again.

One of my favourite runs has been a red called Pramint that parallels the St Martin Express. It’s a challenging piste with lots of off camber turns and some undulating sections, probably on the upper end of a red run. In low visibility with a bit of loose snow Is call it an early black. Unfortunately due to the visibility some people who shouldn’t be on such a run we’re taking it with some unfortunate consequences.

8FE791C8-2360-4C9E-ABF5-71D0818DEFAE.jpeg


12.30 came around and it was time for another great lunch at Corbeleys.

5FD64171-40EE-4DAB-BB04-2EA10D4CB54D.jpeg


4BD49D76-C18B-4B90-BBB0-2C989FA8651F.jpeg


2B66C18D-9DB0-43A9-AFBD-46EF83254D0D.jpeg


Followed by some delicious desserts.

AA035F96-F0E7-4DC6-B59C-227C2F3B346A.jpeg


F8554517-2D1D-4D34-8B3B-A309894E0C20.jpeg


The even finished the meal for the adults with a complimentary pair of Gènèpi.

A9A3719F-AF26-4616-8E2B-3E9A4644AFF3.jpeg


Now I’m an adventurous drinker people. I am usually willing to give anything the benefit of the doubt. But Gènèpi is not for me. If I was challenged to describe it, I would say it is mentholated spirits with a hint of laundry detergent. A solid no thanks.

Stepping back outside it was clear that the weather was not going to improve much so we agreed it was time to head towards home.

Again the visibility changed from moment to moment.

309D17A5-2743-4505-992A-2546EBD123B4.jpeg


Stepping out of the restaurant:

E8C9FB99-387A-4843-B4EC-F6759DACFBDB.jpeg


The violet run down to Les Menuires:



And then just above Bettex lift on the same run.

181DFAD7-89C4-429E-B626-7A9E73FE7AAF.jpeg


The boys headed in at that point, having nothing left to give to the day.

67A056FE-F988-4F1A-9856-95569478A2F4.jpeg


While my wife and I did a couple of runs down to the bottom of the valley while there was a clear spot in the weather.

612266F6-1029-4506-9111-803771F13C2A.jpeg


We then turned in just before 3 with the path looking a little more clear than we left it.

6FB7676B-A80B-44B3-B535-025AAF2800D8.jpeg
:yum: Great picture of Mr. 13! And Mr. 16 likes Lumuba it seems? :cheers:

Tomorrow we get better pictures! :ski:
 
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