Three Valleys Charity Day Review

Three Valleys Charity Day Review

Wednesday the 9th April saw the highlight of the end of the season for many people – the 3 Valleys charity day in Meribel Village.

The event, which has run annually since 2002, raises money for two Cancer charities: Sebastian Action Trust, based in Hampshire in the UK and France’s Ligue Nationale contre le Cancer. A veritable institution, beloved of seasonnaires and visitors alike, this year’s event was a real triumph.

After months of planning, this year’s event began in earnest in the very small hours as some of the area’s old stagers gathered to fire up the hog roast, set up the sound system and fix up the bouncy castle. They were soon joined by the Retro-rentals team with their tasteful selection of fancy dress costumes – special mention goes to the girls who donned spandex as the Jamaican bobsleigh team!

By 2pm the day was in full swing. Legendary Après band Bring your Sisters played a rousing set, backed up by The Elements, Dirty Pigeons and many others. There was a curry stand, the Snowbugs kids zone and a BBQ, with our very own Operations Manager Ben Butler manning the tongs, trying desperately to prove that he can be allowed back in an Alpine Action kitchen.

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The highlight of the day was the final live music set from headline performers the Dub Pistols. The Rond Point and the Folie Douce have had some epic parties this season, LDV and the Ski Lodge have rocked to some brilliant bands but I don’t think there has been quite such a an amazing party in all the best bars in the 3 valleys this year. Every available bench, barrier, step and floor space was packed as the sun went down behind the ridge above Olympic and everyone, young and old, had a ball by the main stage in the centre of Meribel Village.

Special thanks must go to all those who made the day such a succcess, notably Ralph from Freeride who masterminded the day, and Debbie and Tim Wall who’s support has helped make the event the success story it is. Finally, let’s all keep in mind the two great causes that will benefit greatly from the event: The Sebastian Action Trust and the Ligue National contre le Cancer.

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Three Valleys Snow Report – Weekending 12/4/2014

Three Valleys Snow Report – Weekending 12/4/2014

Today we welcome our final group of guests of the 2013/4 season. It’s flown by so fast I can hardly believe it.

And what a season it has been. After a slow start, January and February brought some of the best skiing conditions imaginable. With the snowpack almost 2metres thick for much of the season, even low altitude runs have been a joy to ski. Meanwhile higher up, there have been enough genuine powder days to satisfy even the most committed off-piste riders. Finally the last month in particular has been virtually wall-to -wall blue skies and sunshine, meaning hours of fun relaxing on glorious mountain terraces. It’s been a real privilege.

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While high temperatures and sunshine have been the norm throughout much of the week, and road bikes have begun appearing on the mountain roads in anticipation of the summer season, we’re not yet done with skiing. Last week did deliver a further 3-4 inches of snow above around 1800m, ensuring that there is still plenty of fun to be had on the piste. As you would expect at this time of year, some of the lower runs are starting with show the strain. The Village, Raffort and Maduit pistes have now been closed for the season, but there are still miles and miles of beautiful runs to enjoy. As you pass the pisteurs this week, do show your gratitude for the great work they have done in keeping the ski area in such comparatively good condition and then head of to make the most of the last week of a truly fantastic Winter season in Meribel and La Tania.

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What does the end of the ski season mean to the staff in the ski resorts?

What does the end of the ski season mean to the staff in the ski resorts? 

Spring is in the mountains and that means many things. Things such as drink the bar dry nights, increased sightings of marmots, stones appearing on the piste, increased worry about getting your deposit back on your hire skis and of course the end of the winter ski season. But what does the end of the ski season mean to the staff in the ski resorts?

Alpine Action, ski bubble, meribelOur staff will be starting to realise what this means very soon. To them it will seem a distant memory when they filled out their application form and then came and had an interview for a ski job with us. Since then, the potential we spotted in them will have been realised and they will now be developed professional caterers. Never, during playground chat, will they have thought that making a bed and cleaning bathrooms would be a path they would take and they definitely wouldn’t have considered the rewards it would also lead to.

Now as the last few weeks of guest arrive and depart and the chalets are prepared for a lonely summer, our chalet host will be starting to have one of two feelings. For some it will be Joy, for others it will be dread and some it will be both.

The feeling of joy will come from the feeling of relief that they did it. It is hard to underestimate the pressure a chalet host is under. Many people take the job with mixed emotions of trepidation and excitement because is it far outside their comfort zone.  So to have completed a winter season in a ski chalet having cooked and cleaned for 200 people 6 nights a week is a massive achievement, especially when you have got consistently good reviews as our staff have done this season.

Joy will also be because they are looking forward to going home, for quite a few of our chalet host this will have been the first time that they have left everyone behind. When they do return they may have not seen their parents or partners for 6 months.

But there is that feeling of dread too. In some jobs you work, then you go home, then you have a weekend and then you go on holiday. Working and living in a ski resort as a chalet host is all of those things in a day, every day, twice. It is a completely absorbing environment to be in. For many it will be the most intense few months of their lives. In some cases it is addictive and can lead to a whole life in the mountains.

When we reflect on the friend we have made and how far they will be away when we return home. When we consider the epic days we have had in the hills and how suddenly we won’t be skiing fresh tracks 30 minutes after getting that cake out of the oven. We will even reflect back at the great guests we have had, from the party animals to the clean freaks, and how we have enjoyed having them all to stay. When you consider all this you start to get a feeling of dread. Suddenly it will all be gone.

Still there is always next season…

 

 

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A guide to Snow parks in the 3 valleys

A guide to Snow parks in the 3 valleys – By Rob BartettMeribel Map, board park, dc park, moon park

The season has flown by but as the final weeks of skiing approach there is no let up for the team out here in resort. With Easter on the horizon, the final weeks will see many kids arrive in resort on their Easter holidays.

For many this will be their first time in the mountains and their sights will be set on the huge achievement of completing their first green run. But for the older kids, who may have had a few weeks skiing before and feel comfortable on blues and reds, some of them may be on the lookout for their next challenge. Their parents may be wary, but for many that challenge could be to master their first tricks in the park.

Fortunately Meribel and the Three Valleys have several different snow parks, with routes for riders of all abilities, from wide boxes for those taking their first steps up from piste skiing, to Olympic size kickers, rails and half-pipes for experienced (and brave!) freestyle skiers. As with my recent entry about off-piste skiing, you will find that an instructor will be worth their weight in gold for both your safety and enjoyment as you take your first steps in the park.

Moon Park

The smaller of the two parks in Meribel is the Moon Park, accessed off the top of the Plan de l’homme lift from the Chaudanne. A great starting point here is the boardercross route, with the twisting run, steep banks and simple rollers allowing you to get a feel for freestyle riding.

Moving up a level, the Moon Park has a nice series of entry level boxes and small kickers, which make it the perfect place to learn your first tricks, although boarders be aware that to go straight back around when you reach the bottom it is a steep drag lift.

One or two large kickers aside, more experienced park skiers may be looking for a bigger challenge. In which case the choice is clear: head to Mottaret.

DC Park

Variously known as the Plattières park, the DC Park or Area 43, the snowpark off the top of the Plattières 1, Plan se Main and Chatelets lifts is undoubtedly the biggest and best in the Three Valleys. It has a full range of options for all riders, including entry and intermediate boxes and kickers as well as a mini half-pipe to try. But as great as trying the different modules yourself is, that’s only half the fun of your time here.

That is because this is where the serious freestyle riders come to play. Start by watching them to the full-size half-pipe immediately underneath the Plattières lift station. With a steep gradient and high walls, you can see some seasoned veterans getting big air and maybe putting in a few 180s or 360s.

As you go further down, on the far right hand side you will see some huge kickers, where riders tend to favour grabs as they carry in some cases 20m or more in the air. Finally underneath the DC sign you will see the advanced rails, painted yellow and black as is fitting for some of the most difficult modules around. Watching the pros balance on their tips over these rails is an awesome sight, but you will wince if they don’t quite nail that landing. Parents may want to look away, but if the kids are dreaming of thrills and excitement this holidays, look no further than a spot of freestyle skiing in the snow parks in Meribel.

DC Board Park Meribel

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Three Valleys Snow Report – Week Ending 5/4/2014

Three Valleys Snow Report – Week Ending 5/4/2014 

This last week saw the start of April, and Spring skiing is with us! A joy for boarders, if slightly harder on the legs for skiers than cold January powder. What’s more, we’re still seeing plenty of sunshine across the Three Valleys so this weeks guests should still enjoy a great week of skiing in Meribel and La Tania.

As you would expect at this time of year, as the freezing level creeps up the mountain, coverage at the lower altitudes in and around resort has thinned out, but all the key runs back into Meribel, Meribel Village and La Tania remain open. At the higher altitudes, the thick snowbase and mild temperatures are making for some great late season conditions.

Thick cloud cover over Saturday and Sunday may bring some drizzle at lower altitudes but is expected to fall as snow higher up. Skies are expected to clear as the week goes on however, meaning the best conditions are likely to come through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The lifts remain open from 9am to 5pm - as is typically the case this time of year the snow will be at its best between about 10am and 3 30pm. Have a great week skiing in the three valleys!

vista meribe, view of valley

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Thanks for my love of skiing mum

dry slope skiing alpine action

Thanks Mum

As a family we never went on a ski holiday. My first experience of skiing was with the Scouts when we went to Plymouth dry ski slope, when I was 12, for a day. A few years later, when I was 16, I persuade my Mum to save up her hard earned money, combined with donation from grandparents, to send me on a the annual school ski trip to Bulgaria. It was so much fun, I loved all aspects of the mountains. I think I may have even snuck of with some pals to experience my first après ski!

More years passed then a friend suggested we do a ski season. My mum supported me and drove me to the interview. She even refused to help me bake the all-important interview cake. I got the job on my own merits, lesson learned. She did help me packed my bags. She didn’t wave the coach off as I departed for 6 months away from home. I wonder if she knew that I was on my way to Meribel for the first of many winters in the Alps?

Borovets skiing school trip

I don’t think I would have said yes about the ski season if my Mother hadn’t sent me on a ski trip when I was young. I have since spent 15 happy years working in the ski industry, some people even call it a career. So thanks mum for the opportunity you gave me when I was growing up to experience something that I loved and has become part of my life.

Thanks Mum.

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Run report – off-piste in Meribel

Run report – off-piste in Meribel 

By Alpine Action’s Resort Rep, Rob Bartlett 

Meribel back country off pisteI’ve said before and it is as true now as at the start of the season: one of the best parts of my job is being able to share my own knowledge of the ski resort, passing on tips and suggestions of which pistes to try, where to find the best conditions and how to get the most out of a week skiing in the Three Valleys.

As befits the largest ski area in the world, there are hundreds of kilometres of pistes to enjoy for skiers and boarders of every level. However, for experienced skiers, there is a world of fun to be had beyond the marked and bashed runs.

alpine action staff off piste meribel

The rules of off piste 

Before saying any more, we need to be totally clear that skiing off-piste can be extremely dangerous. It should only be considered by experienced and confident skiers. As minimum safety precautions you should always look to go in small groups – 3 or 4 is ideal – and never alone. Be aware of the published avalanche risk, but be aware that snow conditions can change rapidly. An hour in the sun can turn safe routes into an unacceptable risk in less than an hour.

Before setting off, you should ensure your insurance covers you for going off-piste and carry and know how to use the relevant safety equipment of a transceiver, shovel and probe. We would strongly recommend engaging an instructor or a guide, and it is always worth checking with the pisteurs for their views on where is safe to go. Always remember that skiing off-piste poses a risk not just to yourself, but also to those who on the mountain around you, such as other skiers on the same slopes, or the secouristes who would conduct a rescue operation if anything went wrong. If you are at all unsure, you should not go.

With the proper precautions however, off- piste skiing can be one of the great highlights of a skiing holiday in the Alps, so where are some of the best routes in Meribel?

fresh ski tracks meribel off piste

Where to find off piste in Meribel

My advice would be to head to the Vallon and Cote Brune sectors. On the Vallon gondola you will most likely see plenty of tracks underneath the lift, which can be accessed from the corner at the top of the Combe de Vallon piste. While this is one of the more recognised and accessible off-piste routes, beware of partially covered rocks.

For those looking to go further into the backcountry, head through the gap in the rock on your left as you come out of the Vallon bubble. There is another reasonably established route straight down hereto the side of the piste, but if you keep left, a small 10 minute walk and a short traverse lead you out to some powder field coming down from the ridge. Check with the pisteurs before attempting this route as the snowpack can be unstable above you, but in the right conditions the fluffy powder, comfortable gradient and spectacular views can make this route a showstopping highlight.

A final route to try is accessed from the top of the Becca lift. In the snowbank opposite the lift you will most likely see tracks leading diagonally up to the ridge line. The top offers a spectacular view both down to Les Menuires one way and across to the Mont Vallon summit the other. Be careful of the entry point here. Traverse across the slope to the centre of the chute to avoid the treacherous rocky drops immediately below where the track up reaches the ridgeline.

The descent down from here looks clear enough but boarders in particular will want to avoid keeping too far left as they will risk being caught out by a flat section right at the bottom before regaining the piste. Equally however, head too far right and you risk being blocked by another few rocky drops, or finding yourself underneath a particularly steep section of the slope where the risk of avalanche is higher. Keep to a conservative line though and you should have a fabulous descent, with the added bonus of being able to admire your track as you head back up the Cote Brune lift.

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Three Valley Snow Report – Week Ending 29/3/14

Three Valley Snow Report – Week Ending 29/3/14 

They say all good things must come to an end and so it proved at the start of this week in Meribel. After two weeks of gloriously warm temperatures and stunning sunshine, last Saturday saw the skies cloud over and the temperature plummet back to lows of around minus 10.

fresh powder, off piste in meribel
But to follow one cliché with another, every cloud has a silver lining. In this case the clouds were not just lined, but were in fact packed full of lovely fresh snow.

In total, the first days of this week just gone saw 10-12 cm of snow fall in resort, with much more than that at the top of the lifts, giving a great boost to the on-piste conditions, while also exciting the powder junkies is resort with the prospect of some great off-piste skiing in the three valleys.

The overhead conditions did clear up through the middle of the week, but temperatures stayed nice and cold helping to keep all that fresh snow in great shape. The week ended on a high with the best day of the week on Friday, when there was barely a cloud in the sky and temperatures eased just a little.

Looking ahead, conditions for the coming week on the Three Valleys  look set fair. Clouds should stay away and temperatures are expected to stay very mild, without quite climbing to the unseasonable highs we saw in previous weeks. The long range forecast suggests that there is a chance of more light snow on Thursday or Friday.

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5 things to lookout for during spring in the Alps

5 things to lookout for during spring in the Alps

1. Marmots

Every time you enter a souvenir shop in the Alps you will get whistled at. Sadly this is never the owner showing appreciation for your slightly faded, shell suit esque ski jacket. The whistling is coming from a toy marmot.  If you are the sort of person who doesn’t believe it is possible to get good snow during April and will only ski during January when the temperature can get as low as -20, you will have never had the chance to see a marmot. These animals hibernate so we miss them for much of the ski season, but they come out just at the end.

marmot

2. Sunburn

As a responsible ski tour operator we suggest that you lookout for sunburn, make sure you put suncream on  to stop you burning and keep your skin covered up. The suns rays are much stronger at altitude so the risk of burning is higher. And, if you follow our suggestion then you can smugly look out for other idiots that have  terrible sunburn and look stupid.

sunburn, google marks

3. Cheap stuff

 Need a new pair of skis? Want a new ski jacket? Have your snowboard trousers lost their waterproof? Why not combine a ski trip with a shopping trip?  Once the season starts to draw to an end then the shops start trying to get rid of what they havent sold. This means SALES. The discounting isn’t just on clothes and equipment. Some bars start to get rid of their excess booze too, you may even find yourself attending a “drink the bar dry” party.

meribel ski shop

4. Puddles

I know we have said that the snow is great at the end of the season. However  true it is that there can be great dumps of snow in April,  sometimes it can be a bit hot and cause a puddle or two… but puddles and skiing can be fun…

5. amazing dumps of snow

We can’t guarantee the weather but in our experience there are always a  good few dumps during the last few weeks of the season. This is often followed by a bluebird day. The sad thing is that many people choose to miss this time of year and then miss out on these amazing warm powder days. Or maybe it is a good thing as it means that only me and anyone who bothered to read to the end of this article will be out there.

 

We have a few beds left for  you to come spring skiing. http://www.alpineaction.co.uk/special-offers-last-minute.htm

 

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Three Valleys Snow Report – Weekending 22nd March

Three Valleys Snow Report – Weekending 22nd March

In my snow report last week I talked about how lucky our departing guests were to have had a full week of superb weather, with warm sunny days and clear skies. To have one full week like that is rare. To have two full weeks like that is a unique treat. But that is what we have had.

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Off piste snowboarding meribel.

This week’s guests have certainly enjoyed it. Many have improved their tans as much as their skiing and several have said that they have never known such good conditions in all their years of coming on chalet holidays in the Three valleys . The mountain restaurants have been doing a roaring trade, with visitors enjoying fabulous views from the deckchairs , while the daily parties on the terrace at the Folie Douce have to be experienced to be believed.

As they saying goes however, you can have too much of a good thing, and truth be told that the sun was starting to take its toll on the snow, particularly at lower altitudes. As if on cue though, more is on the way this weekend…

Forecasters are predicting 12cm of snow in resort between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning, a figure that can reliably be doubled for the higher altitudes at the top of the lifts. The temperature is expected to drop sharply as well, with lows  down to minus 9 overnight, helping to keep the fresh snow in top condition.

The weather through the rest of the week will generally be overcast, with a little more snow expected late on Tuesday. Thursday looks likely to be the best day of the week with clearer skies expected that afternoon.

With changeable conditions expected, it is at this point in the season when the 3 valley lift pass most clearly shows its worth. As the largest ski area in the world, with an incredibly well-planned and efficient lift system, it is easy to move around to get above or below any cloud cover and find the best snow conditions. While this week’s guests may not enjoy the same number of bluebird days as today’s departing visitors, the fresh powder will ensure that everyone is set to enjoy another great week’s skiing in the 3 valleys.

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