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Can Les Arcs beat the previous record (2,854 participants) set in Switzerland 10 years ago? Click on the poster for more

Saturday, 6 February 2016

UP AND DOWN: Pierra Menta

The Pierra Menta race is just a month or so away - the FA Cup of ski alpinism, if you like.  If you want to go and watch, the chairlift opens at 5am.  A crowd of 2000 is expected.  Spectating is at your own risk of course.





The whole set-up really is quite something.  Here's the video from last year.

For more on Areches-Beaufort, click here.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

SMALL AREA, BIG MOUNTAIN: Areches-Beaufort

If you're looking for a base to explore a number of different ski resorts, Albertville is certainly an option.  But an attractive alternative involves basing yourself 20km in the (to Brits anyway) low profile Beaufortain valley.

From the super little town of Beaufort you can:

  • Ski the Espace Diamant from Les Saisies (our visit to Crest-Voland is here)
  • Visit Les Contamines from the back door entrance at Hauteluce
  • Ski the local slopes above the town at Areches-Beaufort.  Which is what we did

The resort isn't particularly high (slopes to 2300m) but then it's not that low either.  And the ski area is small.  But it does have two (loosely connected) mountains, and so it feels bigger than you might expect.  Here's the official blurb from the tourist office, which includes some videos.

All in all, it's well worth a look - a good mixture of moyenne montagne and haute montagne, with serious views across the valley and towards Mont Blanc.

Park at Le Planay (1200m), and take the lift up.
Looking back into the Beaufortain

The slopes around the Col des Combettes (2100m)
feel higher than they actually are.
Taken from the cosy restaurant half way down

The point about it being a serious mountain is a serious one.  Areches hosts the famous Pierra Menta ski alpinism race every March, and has been making real efforts to build its credentials as a base for ski randonée.  For example, there are a couple of avalanche-secured tracks now in place on the mountain that you can now follow.

It's nothing like the ski in, ski out convenience you get in fancier resorts.  For example, the link from the Le Planay side to the Le Cuvy area at Areches involves a walk through the car park that would get some mollycoddled skiers seriously aerated:




Then again, you are rewarded withthe spectacular Perches red run back to Planay, far from the hum of any ski lifts:

The Perches run from Le Cuvy

It's about 2 hours from Geneva (take the Annecy lake road for a scenic introduction) and for a day trip or a weekend should be a real contender - particularly for the more experienced skier who wants to try something with a more "traditional feel" without wanting to compromise on being in a "proper" ski area.



Saturday, 16 January 2016

AS SEEN FROM ARC 1600: Ski Adventures

For another take on Les Arcs, follow the Ski Adventures blog, which includes an insider's view on the resort, as well as the opportunity to stay at Chalet d'Alice in Arc 1600.

The first blog of the year looks at the story around the upgrade of the Cachette piste, including the many snow cannons that now line the run....