Tag Archives: snow

Epic snowfalls in l’Alpe d’Huez

View of exterior after heavy overnight snowfalls
The accumulations of twenty-four hours' snowfalls make the Cristal de l'Alpe an even more handsome addition to the heart of l'Alpe d'Huez.

If anyone tries to tell you that this season’s snowfalls in the French Alps are less than gratifying just point them at the live images from the various webcams dotted around les Grandes-Rousses (Isère). In fact, conditions were already good when arrived in the major-league ski station of l’Alpe d’Huez to fulfil an invitation to join the press launch of MGM Constructeur’s latest creation: the Cristal de l’Alpe. Both the elegant new self-catering apartment development and its high-altitude setting looked a picture beneath the kind of cloudless skies which tell skiing photographers to make the most of conditions while they can.

So it was that we climbed aboard the cable-car and headed up to the windswept summit of the Pic Blanc to take in the surroundings from a heady 3320m. The Pic also provided us and a steady stream of other like-minded skiers with the launch-point for a truly unforgettable run on the legendary Sarenne piste. Sixteen km and almost 2,000m of vertical drop later, we cruised through the Gorges de la Sarenne with a sense of considerable  achievement. I’ll describe the adventure in more detail in due course, but in the meantime I can look at the images we shot along the way, in perfect conditions, to confirm that we really did do it.

Why? Because the following day things changed dramatically, as a weather front moved in, bringing with it heavy and sustained snowfalls for the next twenty-four hours or so. Needless to say, Sarenne closed while the grooming crews prioritised the more-frequented terrain closer to the village. So, a classic case of ‘use it before you lose it…’

Grand Massif, French Alps


Grand Massif, French Alps, a set on Flickr.

Here are a selection of images taken over several visits to the Grand Massif ski area in the Northern French Alps. You can find our full resort reviews by following these links to Samoëns, Les Carroz, and Flaine.

All images © Roger Moss, MountainPassions.com

Published today, on Amazon and Apple iBook Store: ski writing par excellence…

Today sees the publication of Skiing The Edge, a compilation of what Editor Jules Older describes as the work of:  ‘great writers, not just great ski writers, and they’re at the top of their game…

As Editor of MountainPassions.com I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute a chapter. Not being, if I can help it, a near-to-death skier, I hesitated initially, unsure of precisely what I could bring to an exacting brief. And then I recalled an experience which happened to me years ago, while  en-route to an appointment with fate in Québec. Or, more precisely, a few days spent learning to ski from zero.

I’ll spare you the details (I know, I’m such a tease), except to report that along the way things didn’t turn out quite as planned. To say the least. Despite which, the trip was a turning-point – once I’d learnt to turn – in my life, for I did indeed become a skier.  And at last I’m coming clean about how I very nearly didn’t.

In the book you’ll also share other people’s life-changing moments, whether humorous, humiliating, heart-stopping or bordering on the holy. In short, it’s a great read…

Skiing The Edge is available from Apple iBook Store and Amazon

Serre Chevalier in Pictures

MountainPassions brings you a selection of winter images from the Serre Chevalier ski resort in the Hautes-Alpes. Just click on any image to view the gallery. For a full and independent resort review visit our website.

Cross-Border Skiing from La Rosière

The fine weather has followed us to La Rosière, whose snow cover remains surprisingly good despite the long period since the most recent falls. It’s just as well, since we headed off yesterday in high spirits to ski over the Franco-Italian border to La Thuile.

Our previous attempt had been thwarted by mist and high winds, not a happy combination. This time, though, we accomplished all we’d set out to do and more, including a pause for lunch at Lo Riondet, in every sense the definitive Italian mountain restaurant. In summer it’s beside the road over the Petit Saint-Bernard Pass, but in winter the road is transformed into a long, sweeping cruise for skiers heading to La Thuile and the Aosta Valley.

Not that we took it easy all the time, you understand. La Thuile isn’t exactly novice territory, and we dropped in via a steep Black piste and a couple of entertaining Reds which took us through pine forest.

We had a fantastic day, skiing much of the area’s varied piste network, all of which is set among the most dramatic mountain scenery we could wish for. The adventure finally concluded with a glorious run back to France against a lazy,  sinking sun.

Once back in La Rosière we knew exactly why this place is so popular with British visitors – and many other nationalities, it seems. And we’ll see a little more of it today, just in case there’s anything essential we missed first time around.

Our thanks to La Rosière’s Office de Tourisme and to our friends at Ski Collection for organising our visit, including our stay at the excellent 4* Le Refuge. http://www.skicollection.co.uk/Ski/La-Rosiere.htm

Orelle: rapid access to skiing in Val Thorens…

Today we drove down to Orelle in the Maurienne Valley and took the long ride skywards on the Trois-Vallées Express gondola lift. Around fifteen amazing minutes later we stepped out onto soft powder snow and knew that this was going to be quite a day. And it was; a simple onward chairlift ride took us to an unforgettable overview of Val Thorens.

The sky was steely blue and the quality of the snow beneath our skis confirmed that we had indeed landed in Europe’s highest ski area. For the next few hours we toured the highest peaks, skied some epic descents and found time to enjoy our best-ever on-mountain meal in La Fruiterie.

Working our way back towards our starting point offered an opportunity to ride the Cime de Caron téléphépherique, still the world’s biggest and highest cable-car. From the summit we gazed, awe-struck at our surroundings before blasting down the Black-graded Combe de Rosaël piste. At the bottom, feeling elated at having accomplished this testing descent, we took just one more chairlift ride to ski some of Orelle’s own excellent terrain, before boarding the gondola back down to Orelle. You wouldn’t believe half of what we saw and did,  so we’ll be supplying photos – stay tuned…

Snow problem – for SNCF, apparently…

Back from the French Alps [continued]

If many of the rail schedules were in shreds after speed restrictions were imposed to assure the security of travellers, SNCF’s staff were ready and waiting to help those stranded after missing onward services. As we rolled into the Gare de Lyon in Paris over 2hrs later than planned the train announcer informed us that anyone experiencing a ‘rupture de correspondence’ should present themselves to their welcome desk.

Doing so involved joining a queue, of course, but after checking our tickets we were given a new reservation for the following day, and an overnight reservation in a nearby hotel. Thank-you, SNCF – we really couldn’t have asked for more.

And now we’re back to planning our next visits, which will take us first to the Hautes-Pyrénées and then back to the French Alps.

First, though, there’s the little matter of Christmas and New Year to get out of the way, so I’ll take the opportunity of wishing you all a great time over the holiday break, wherever you are. And if you’re skiing, lay a powder track or two for me…

Roger Moss, Editor, MountainPassions.com