A sunny break between snowfalls in The Three Valleys
What has happened to the weather this winter? It has snowed, bucketed it down, blizzarded, sleeted, flurried, snowed, rained and snowed some more. I can’t remember a season when so much fell from the sky. Snow clearing is a constant occupation.
This weekend we enjoyed a few days' respite from the snowfalls and had a chance to make the most of exceptional skiing conditions. The slopes are in near perfect condition with soft snow absolutely everywhere. They are so soft and smooth they make you feel as if you are a really talented skier. “Hero snow”, I’ve heard it called. The only tougher snow is on the low pistes through the resort where rain last week resulted in some harder areas.
The snow depths are excellent: 100cm in the resort and a vast 244cm on the summits (that's 8 feet of snow in old money). It's even been possible to ski all the way down to Brides-les-Bains at 600m. Now that the holidays are over, the slopes are quieter and there are virtually no queues anywhere. The sun came out briefly this weekend and the temperatures were normal for this time of year, around -5ºC at La Chaudanne and -10ºC on the summits.
We decided to ski over to Val Thorens to make the most of these relatively kind weather conditions (to my mind, VT is best avoided during windy/cold/flat light conditions as it's high and exposed). En route, we decided to check out some of the new lifts and pistes that have appeared this winter.
First, we took the new, blue La Corniche piste into Val Thorens. It starts from La Folie Douce restaurant/bar and gently winds to skier's left, arriving above the top of VT. It's a little bit flat so probably best avoided by boarders but it does offer beautiful views over the resort. It will come into its own during busy periods when it will offer a much quieter route into Val Thorens than the busy Plein Sud run.
More exciting is the new Moraine gondola lift which replaces the old chairlift of the same name. This long and exposed chairlift was nicknamed ‘the fridge’ as it was so cold (and the short, even chillier Col chairlift above it is known as “the freezer”). The new gondola is a huge improvement, offering a fast and comfortable ride to the foot of the Glacier de Thorens in spacious cabins for ten. It serves two excellent, long, wide, cruisey blues, Moraine and Genepi, which are known for their good snow and are a great place to practise carving turns.
I had intended to ski into Orelle to try out the new Croix d’Antide run but the lure of a good lunch at my favourite VT restaurant, Chalet de la Marine, was too strong so this new blue run will have to wait for another day…
On our way back to Méribel from Val Thorens, we took the new blue Lac de la Chambre piste. As I'm sure you know, this run forms a major route between the two valleys and had a tricky steep first section which is mostly in deep shade. This section is still graded red and has been allowed to form big moguls. The new blue alternative (on skier's right) is a much easier and more pleasant way back towards Méribel. In addition, the lower, narrower part of this run has been reshaped and widened, making it a much nicer route home than before.
Thank you to Eliot, SeeCourchevel's snow reporter, who provided the last report while I was off with the ‘flu. My top tip for this winter – do have the ‘flu jab, it really wasn’t very nice…
The forecast is for a return to yet more snowy weather. We are expecting a whole week of heavy snow from Tuesday onwards. Back to snow clearing again…
Location: Meribel Valley