|Booked Trip Through|
|January - Chamonix - Snowed in,having to dig car out every morning to head out of the valley to another resort
which has lifts open !|
There is virtually nothing open here because of the huge amount of snow which has fallen and the
significant avalanche risk that brings with it. The Pisteurs have been working flat out to make some areas safe and also trying
to cope with a Heli crash which happened in view of the village of Argentiere where people lost their lives while blasting
the snow away from the Grand Montets when the machine hit the lift cables.
We had thought about heading over to Verbier
but the pass over from Vallorcine to Martigny in Switzerland was closed. So " what will we do tommorow ?" was the question
as we sat drinking Guinness in the Rencard Bar in Argentiere. A girl from back home in Dumfries was working as a rep for Inghams
somewhere in Italy and Raymond had her mobile number so we decided to give her a call to see where she was and to see what
things were like on the sunny side of Mont Blanc or Monte Bianco as the Italians call it.
She was working in the little
resort of La Thuile not far from Courmayeur and she said conditions were pretty good. So that was it , a trip through the
Mont Blanc tunnel to Italy in the morning was planned.
Onway back to the Hotel we passed our little 4x4 covered in about
3ft of snow - would we get to Italy was the question in my head as i fell asleep.
Woken up at about 4am with lots of
vehicle noise coming from the road outside. I looked out and it was still snowing quite heavilly as the local authority with
trucks,snowploughs abd bulldozers worked frantically to clear the narrow main street of Argentiere.
After breakfast we
got our kit and headed to the car park and found that they had clamped our vehicle and dragged it away across the road so
that they could clear the railway station car park where we had left it the previous afternoon. It was not damaged and after
clearing the snow from it we got it started and the heater working flat out.
We drove down to Cham,onto the main road and
on up to the entrance to the Mont Blanc tunnel. Not much traffic about and after paying 35.9€ for the privalage we came
out the other side about 25 mins later where we were pleased to say that visibility was a lot better as we drove down through
Courmayeur a resort i had been through many times without actually going out on its slopes. We then drove on down the duel
carriageway to the turn off and headed up the quite steep and narrow road towards La Thuile.
The resort sits quite
high at 1440m and is therefore reasonably snow sure. There are 17 lifts here consisting of one gondola,10 chairlifts and 6
drag lifts as well as the link over to the French resort of La Rosiere which makes this a reasonable sized area.
impressions were of a spread out,partially purpose built resort which certainly looks more French than Italian.
the large car park right through at the far end of the village at the base of the lifts. There were not many vehicles there
as we got our kit and went to meet up with Sheree who was working for most of the day but arranged to meet us in the evening
By now the weather was mostly overcast and we encountered heavy snow showers between one or two sunny spells.
We took the main access gondola up to Les Suches at 2200m where visibility was worse!
The slopes were practically empty
and i was surprised to see lots of untracked powder both on piste and between the trees. We hit the black "Muret" piste and
had a great run in knee deep powder back to the base where there were some big puddles of slush. The previous week these lower
slopes had been green fields as there had been a lot of heavy rain which had been falling as snow higher up. Luckily temperatures
had dropped and the snow was now down at resort level.
We had another few runs cutting through the trees and back to the
base in some lovely conditions as we hoped visibility would improve so that we could head up onto the higher open slopes above
Because of high winds most of the upper chairs were closed and we only had a couple of long drag lifts up
to Gran Testa (2379m) to play on.It was like being back on the White Lady T-bar at Cairngorm as the wind blew you strongly
to the left of the drag track and the small pellets of hail and icy snow battered the face - great fun !
The runs up here
from what i could see and feel under my board were quite uninspiring - pretty flat blues that eventually took you back to
Les Suches as you fought against the wind to get any speed at all. It looked like a great area for beginners as the slopes
were wide and gentle and on a warm sunny day people would learn the basics up here in no time.
We traversed over to what
looked like a restaurant near the Chaz Dura chair, it was deserted as we looked inside.The waiter did not seem very friendly
and looked like he was happy to have no customers that day as he made no effort to welcome us so we about turned and headed
all the way back to the village for lunch.
Near the lifts we took a walk down the main street and could find nowhere open
for lunch except a take-away pizza/sandwich shop so we decided to hunt for food back up the hill.
We went to the restaurant
just down below Les Suches at the top of the Bosco Express chair. This was a delightful little place in which to escape from
the elements outside. Good food and a nice atmosphere in a smallish wooden chalet where virtually every visitor had left their
"nom de plume" or some small drawing on every inch of every table,chair and wall in the place.
After a good lunch we decided
just to have a few more runs on the lower slopes which by looking at the piste map seem to be the most challenging part of
the area. I found a few good runs through the well spaced trees which ran down below the gondola and chairlift back to the
bottom.After an hour or so i decided to call it a day and went back to the car to get changed.
We were meeting up for
dinner at 19.30 and found we now had 4 hours to spare. We could have done witha private chaufeur as it was no good one of
us drinking while the other had to drive.We took a walk around the old part of the village across the river then back to the
car. There are very few bars here and the ones we saw were pretty quit and uninspiring. We decided to drive down to Courmayeur
for a look around the shops and to people watch as the fur coated brigade strolled along the narrow streets among the fancy
shops,bars and hotels.We had a drink in one of the popular bars before driving back up to La Thuile for dinner.
to a superb traditional Italian Trattoria which was away past the far end of the main base area carpark but i cant remember
the name of the place. The food and service were excellent. We were chatting away when i suddenly remembered that the Mont
Blanc tunnel had certain travel restrictions put on it at night when it was reopened after the fire. Someone said that at
night traffic only went in one direction but the owner phoned and got told we would make it back to France that night after
all.We said our goodbyes and headed home arriving back in Argentiere by 11pm.
It had been a good day as we parked the vehicle
up for the night and as we walked down to the pub the snow came down again....was it ever going to let up?
|La Thuile would be a good place to learn and for early intermediates.|
Good snow record.
La Rosiere in France.
|Not much in the way of challenging slopes - probably done most of the hardest stuff ii one morning on our
Very quiet at night (i expect anyway!)
|Similar Resorts Visited|
La Thuile Website
La Thuile Information Website (UK based site)
|Booked Trip Through|
|Had a week in Livigno a few seasons back and found it to be a |
reasonable place to board. This is a duty
free resort set in a
remote location not far from the Swiss border.(a day in St.Moritz
is possible with a lift pass
discount).The lift pass also covers
Bormio and Santa Caterina. We stayed in a small hotel called
Gallis sport and it
must be the noisiest place I have ever stayed in.
The bar and Disco/Karaoke was in full swing to about 5am most
so it was best to stay up all night partying rather than
trying to sleep. I would get up have an early lunch then hit the
slopes for a few hours. Livigno has a good modern lift system
and a good beginners area , there are plenty of long
runs on both sides of the valley for improvers. For better
riders there is some good terrain on the Mottolino
Monte Della Neve but it is not overly challenging.
There is also a half pipe and boarder x track on this side
The valley. There are plenty of good eating places here and
i put on a lot of weight during my stay here. We always
to finish the day up the mountain in the dark in some
small bar or restaurant and it amazes me how I got back to
hotel in one piece!
Overall Livigno is ok for a weeks boarding especially for
improving intermediates but it does lack
challenging terrain. To be honest I enjoyed the place more
when I came back the following summer to do
a bit of
walking. There are lots of good shops selling everything
from electrical goods, drink,perfume etc to a wide
ski and board hardwear. Levi and Diesel jeans were a
bargain! If you have a car and you fill it up with lots
duty free goods be carefull if you drive back into
Switzerland as the customs are liable to stop you if you
driving a GB registered car.
|A good snowsure resort. Duty free shops. Good lift|
system. Good nightlife.
|Long transfer from Bergamo or Milan ( 5 hours ).|
No really challenging terrain.
Two main areas are
quite far apart.
|Similar Resorts Visited|
|Over 160 resorts worldwide.|
|Booked Trip Through|
|Macugnaga is set at the foot of western Europes second highest mountain the Monte Rosa. Earlier this summer
the resort suffered flooding and mudslides and in one report it said that this beautiful village ( two villages joined together-Staffa
and Pecetto) may be completely wiped from the map.I hope this is not the case as i would like to return some day. It was autumn
2000 and we decided we wanted to go away for xmas, but it had to be somewhere a bit different and quiet.On looking at a few
brochures we came across Macugnaga. The resort is less than 2 hours drive from Turin and Milan and has lots of holiday homes
for wealthy Italians who drive up for the weekends.We found this an exceptionally friendly place to stay.There was a lovely
wineshop opposite our hotel in the main square in Pecetto and the guy who owned it just wanted to chat all day, so it was
no wonder we spent a fortune on good quality,reasonably priced Italian wines. Most of the hotels were small familly run affairs
with very little English spoken,but with good regional and Italian food. We stayed in the hotel Du Four, named after one of
the peaks on the Monte Rosa and from here it was a short walk to the main Gondola up the mountain. During our stay snow conditions
were quite poor and an early season base had not materialised but there was enough high up to stretch our legs for a few hours
each day.From the top you could scramble up a path with a rope to a huge Gold coloured statue where the views towards Switzerland
and the Matterhorn made the effort worthwhile.There were a couple of short drag lifts up here and a good restaurant with a
sun terrace looking towards the Monte Rosa massiff.Overall we had a lovely break here but if we had came to board all day
long we would have been bored and dissapointed.|
|Lovely setting in stunning scenery.If snow conditions good there are a lot of off-piste posibilities including
a run all the way across to Saas Fee in Switzerland.(Long taxi or bus ride back).This was a great place to come and chill
|Small area with not a lot for anyone who wants to cover mile after mile on groomed pistes. Not a place to
come for a wild nightlife.|
|Similar Resorts Visited|
|Over 160 resorts Worldwide.|
|Booked Trip Through|
|Summer road trip.|
|Val Senales is in the German speaking Sud-Tirol in Northern Italy.|
Waking up early on a cold,clear
late July morning in Solden high in the Oetz valley i looked out of the tent to see the mountains covered in a fresh dusting
We had breakfast and got into the car and drove up past Obergurgl and to the Toll road over the Timmelsjoch Hochalpenstrasse.
The summit of this road is the border between Austria and the Italian Sud Tirol and is at a height of 2509m.The return ticket
cost €14 and the pass is only open from May to October and is one of the steepest and most spectacular mountain passes
i have been over in the Alps.
The journey from Solden to Val Senales took longer than anticipated as we were held up getting
through the town of Meran and even at 8.30 in the morning the temp was hitting 25c.
Once clear of the traffic in Meran
we left the main road towards the Stelvio Pass at Naturno from where it is a fairly steep drive up past a stunning blue lake
Kurzras consists of a few hotels with tennis courts and a Horse riding centre,a huge car park and a cable car
station witha ticket office.
The lift times for Summer Skiing/Boarding were from 07.30 until 13.00 but the main gondola
was open longer.
The lift tickets cost €25 plus €5 deposit for the "hands free" card.
Its then a 6 min ride
to the top of the gondola at 3212m where the highest hotel in the Alps (Hotel Grawand) is situated on a high cliff giving
great views of the valley below.
It was a pretty cold morning when we strapped in (-2c) but there was a light covering
of snow from last night and now the sun was shining so we were all set for a good few hours riding.
There are 22 miles
of groomed pistes up here as well as 12 miles of cross country ski tracks.
On our visit there were two chairlifts and a
long drag lift in operation. The place was quite busy with junior Italian ski teams at Summer training camps practicing on
the Grawand Slalom pistes but there was still plenty of room for everybody.
The drag lift was lower down and the track
was pretty hard and icy where the overnight snow had been blown away. This lift served a pretty flat blue run which we only
went down the one time.
We then had a good few runs from the Grawand chair before heading down the red Gletschersee slopes
to the other chair which was in operation.It was very quiet down here and we hardly seen another person in the next hour except
for the old guy at the bottom of the chair who was busy moving snow around to improve the area where you catch the chair.The
snow in this area was in good condition and made a nice squeaky noise underfoot much like you would expect to find on a cold
Jan morning high above chamonix but not in Italy in the middle of Summer!!
The runs down to this chair were fairly long
and of a steeper pitch which allowed us to get some speed up as we carved our way back to the snow filled track which led
back to the lift.
This two man chair made its way back up beside a cliff face with a few nice snow filled couloirs which
in Winter would provide some fine sport.
The exit from this chair was very steep but as the snow was soft it was easy to
keep control of the board as you got off but it could be a different story in hard,icy conditions.
We had a few runs down
here finding a couple of small kickers at the side as we went down and before we knew it the time was nearing 1pm.
is a small park here with a few rails and kickers but there were only a few people using it- although they looked quite good.
the top station there is a "snow gallery" telling the story of Otzi the man from the ice who was discovered in the glacier
a few years back.
We then took the gondola back down to Kurzras and went back to the car to get the shorts on before heading
back down the valley towards Naturno. On the way down we stopped at a small restaurant for a late lunch in the warm afternoon
sunshine before heading back through Meran and up over the spectacular Timmelsjoch pass to Austria.
Got back to Solden
by 7pm and then it was down the pub!
This was an enjoyable day out and i would recommend anyone to have a day at Val Senales
if they happen to be in that part of the world in the Summer.
|High altitude Summer area.|
Quiet (on our visit).
Fresh Summer snow.
|Cant think of anything!|
|Similar Resorts Visited|
|Think that was number 154 (not inc Tamworth)|
Val Senales Website
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