Your ski jacket and snowboard pants have lots of pockets for a reason and it isn’t to help you warm up as you pat everyone of them looking for your lift pass in the morning. The pockets are there to keep stuff in and in many cases they are designed for specific things like your iPod, lift pass or even your keys, it also means that you can carry the essential and you won’t have to ski or board with a cumbersome bag. But what should you take with you? Here is our list of five essential things that you should pack in your pockets.
Many of us seem to think that we are immune to dehydration and that if we do get thirsty we can just suck on an icicle. These things simply aren’t true, eating snow can increase dehydration due to the amount of heat your body will generate to melt it. That is why we recommend carrying a bottle of water to help you stay hydrated. You can always fill it with snow and ice when it is empty and by keeping it in you pocket your body heat will naturally melt it.
2. A tool
You can get really small tool kits for your hardware theses days, so it is worth making sure at least one person in the group has tool in their pocket (ahem). We suggest this as there is nothing worse than a loose binding half way down a slope that could have be fixed there and then. If your lucky there maybe a tool point at the next lift, but don’t count on it.
3. Sun cream
Every 1000ft above sea level you go there is a 4% increase in the levels of UV that you are exposed to. This means that the chances of sunburn in the mountains is much greater than at the beach in Devon, also the exposed parts of your body will be in the sun for most of the day. That is why you should carry sun cream on you at all times. One thing that is even more important than having it in your pocket is applying it!
4. Fresh Socks
This might seem a bit of a luxury item but your feet will be grateful if you get them wet and cold during the day. There is also some other practical applications for socks such as: An emergency Ice pack (just fill with snow); Gloves (your feet might not have got cold but your hands could have); Dusting (sometimes the ski lift just isn’t clean enough).
5. First Aid Kit
You can get an small one that will fit in your pocket. You never know when someone might need first aid and if you have the kit then you get to play the hero, they might even buy you a beer in exchange for that plaster!
What do you carry in your pocket? Let us now by posting on our Facebook page.
This is our round up of what is new in Méribel this winter.
This winter Méribel is making learning to ski a nicer experience by expanding its safe haven areas for children and beginners. The Altiport area has a designated “Ski Cool” zone that is for gentle and peaceful skiing it is also the home of the piste des Inuits, a nursery slope. On the other side of the valley is the “Zen Zone” and Yeti park, located on the Little Himalaya piste and is also billed as safe haven for people new to skiing and snowboarding.
The new lift is the extension of the Combes, which runs from Meribel Mottaret up towards Les Menuires. This lift now has a mid station allowing beginners to get off and access the Himalaya “Zen” area. It will also shorten the time it takes for skiers to get over to the next valley and onto the runs down to Saint Martin de Belleveille. The lift also boasts magnets as increased saftey for children wearing a special bib.
Take a virtual tour of the new lifts and runs!
Méribel has introduced free on piste Wifi. You can find out more about it and the locations in this article.
For many years the neighbouring resort of Courchvele has had an epic Toboggan run, this year Méribel is introducing not one but two! One run is located in up the Altiport are and the other is next to the Rhodos lift down by the Chaudanne. Sadly neither will be as epic as the one over in Courchevel, which you can watch in the video below.
There will be added photo opportunities this winter as Méribel will be installing a selection of giant photo frames arround the resort for you to have your photo taken with, as soon as we know the locations of these we will let you know.
The Alpine Legends Ski Pass
We wrote about the Alpine Legends pass a few weeks ago. It is a pass that allows you to ski the 3 Valleys, Espace Killy and Paradiski for one price. In the past there was always the option to “upgrade” for a day but this pass allows unlimited skiing in every resort, there is a challenge waiting for some adventurous people to invent, 9 Valley Rally anyone?
Click here if you want to get in contact and talk to us about booking a ski chalet holiday to Meribel.
A ski instructor is a highly skilled, highly trained and highly qualified individual they don’t just get dropped of by the ski stork pre-packaged in their instructors uniform. To become an instructor the individual must be highly motivate and incredibly committed as the cost of the training can be similar to the costs of attending university and getting a degree. As we all know there are international qualifications and there is the “French” qualification. As many of us ski and have lessons in France we have written this guide on the difference between the two systems and the route an instructor takes.
Ski Instructors from Most of the World
It may seem an oversimplification to lump everyone together but in general the qualifications follow a standard structure such as in Canada and New Zealand but for ease we will look at the UK system. The British qualification comes from the British Association of Snowsports Instructors (BASI), and fortunately the qualification can be obtained in other country’s. Many ski instructors holding a BASI qualification will have gained their qualifications in Scotland or in a European ski resort with many wannabe instructors opting to spend whole season training on residential ski instructor courses with companies like Basecamp, who run theirs out of Meribel.
There are generally 4 levels of instructor qualification to obtain. It should be noted that each course requires a level of skiing competence to be accepted on to the program. Also each course covers elements of first aid and emergency procedure that is appropriate to level of instruction they will be qualified in.
Level 1 – This can take three weeks and the end the instructor will be qualified to teach on indoor or dry slopes, children up to the age of 12 as part of a ski school as well as run ski racing training sessions for more serious skiers.
Level 2 – This is a 7 week course and as you can imagine requires more in-depth training and focuses more on technical aspects of ski racing as well as developing the skills of the instructors on piste coaching.
Level 3 – Is where it gets tough and moves in to international territory and the qualification needed can an be obtained from the ISIA . Before an instructor can move to level 3 they must have completed 200 hours of teaching, have a second language and passed a level 1 in a second discipline such as snowboarding. During the course they will have train in mountain safety, performance training and a common theory course and exam. All the hard work means that they can teach most mountain styles and techniques as well as being able to take clients off piste.
Level 4 – Requires a further 200 hours teaching and 6 days of ski touring achieved before they can start the course. They are also required to take the following: Euro Speed test, a written project, endless theory courses, Level 2 in a second discipline and be subjected to a interview. But all this hard work makes them able to teach anything to anyone and go anywhere on the mountain, the dream job.
Instructors are required to take a refresher courses every three years, to make sure they are up to date with safety, first aid and technique developments.
Despite what your are lead to believe being an instructor in France isn’t exclusive to the French, it just requires a bit more work as they have a different route to become a ski instructor and is similar to the systems of Italy and Austria. In France a individual wanting to be a ski instructor must first get into a ski school registered to train, get a first aid certificate, complete a two week residential and pass the notorious Test Technique, which requires an instructor to complete a slalom course within a set time. This first step is the equivalent of Level 1 and the progress is very similar from there on with instructors to pass different levels of competence and complete 100’s of teaching hours to move up the qualifications. Once an Instrcutor has.reached the highest level then can then leave the umbrella of the ESF and set up independent ski schools such as Magic in Motion. It is possible for people from outside of France to enter the system at any stage but the Test Technique is an essential requirement as is speaking French.
This is just a summary of the levels of training an instructor has to go through just to make sure we aren’t dragging out inside edge when turning. If you are interested in finding out more about how people become ski instructors the take a look at these websites Basi.org.uk, Baseampgroup.com, isiaski.org and esf-uk.co.uk
Our guide to why Méribel is the best resort in the 3 Valleys.
The resort of Méribel sits in the Tarentaise valley of the French Alps. It’s a vibrant ski resort with an international following, popular across the winter ski season as well as the more relaxing summer climbing and hiking months. But with two such illustrious neighbours as Courchevel to the east and Val Thorens to the west sharing the mighty Three Valleys ski area, we got to wondering what puts Méribel so far ahead of the competition! Well, we’ve made a list of exactly why Méribel beats Courchevel and Val Thorens.
Méribel takes pride of place in the centre of the Three Valleys and no other resort in the area offers such easy access to all corners of the ski area. With the Saulire gondola swinging rapidly up to its namesake peak for skiing over in Courchevel, and the Tougnete lift winging people swiftly up towards les Menuires and beyond, Méribel wins hands down in this category. You could argue that Méribel-Mottaret is the actual winner here, being closest to the true centre of the Three Valleys, but Mottaret is part of the Méribel Valley!
#2 Best après ski
Méribel’s après ski scene used to be good. Now it’s excellent. The Rond Point has been a favourite amongst seasonnaires and visitors for years and remains a wonderfully popular venue. As the Méribel Folie Douce grows in popularity it means we have two epic venues to choose from and puts Méribel firmly at the top of the après ski tree in the Three Valleys.
#3 Best beginners’ area
Anybody mastering their first turns on the snow, whether on skis, board or blades, needs to head to one of two spots in the Méribel valley that are dedicated to families and beginners. The first is the Altiport a long, rolling, green run that is simply ideal for learners and has trees on either side sheltering skiers from the elements. The other is the Yeti park located around Mottaret. It is comprised of a gentle blue run called Yooni and a green run named Himalaya. The Yeti park area discourages the more adventurous skier leaving you safe to enjoy the wide runs, obstacles and entertainment.
#4 Best nightlife
Whilst it’s true that Courchevel Moriond and Val Thorens have good nightlife, neither of them can compete with the proximity of great bars to be found in Méribel town centre such as Jack’s Bar, famous for its live music and comedy and Barometer to name a few. And when they close, O’ Sullivans down the road is on hand to welcome revellers into the wee small hours. Val Thorens’ Malaysia nightclub offers strong competition but the overall winner has to be Méribel!
This is really a two horse race between Courchevel and Méribel – Val Thorens doesn’t get a look in here. Courchevel 1850 is pretty enough, and so are Moriond and le Praz, but none of them match the lovely Savoyard wood and stone to be found across Méribel, and charming, traditional villages in the Méribel valley such as Les Allues complete the picture.
#6 Best range of accommodation quality/price
Courchevel dominates the luxury market and Val Thorens is often a great resort choice for the budget conscious, especially in the last minute market, but none of them offer such a spectacular range of catered ski chalets, hotels and apartments from basic 2* properties all the way up to top-end 6* opulence. Again, Méribel trumps the competition.
#7 Best ski schools
This category is open to debate, because many of Méribel’s best ski schools also operate in Courchevel and some in Val Thorens as well. But the fact remains that Méribel offers some of the finest tuition of any resort in Europe, with classes, courses and clinics for every pursuit and every level imaginable. Alongside the established ESF are some great independent schools such as Magic in Motion, Marmalade and Parallel Lines.
With the same range of basic burger joints as you’ll find in Val Thorens and the same quality (although perhaps not quantity) of Michelin starred restaurants as Courchevel, Méribel really is a foodie’s paradise. The resort offers cuisine to suit all tastes and budgets, from fine dinning in Le Blanchot over in the Altiport area to amazing pizza in La Refuge, located in the centre of town. Although prices can be high, the quality of the restaurants in Méribel means value for money is very good.
#10 Best off piste
This is another contentious point as both Courchevel and Val Thorens boast spectacular off piste in the right conditions. But with so many lines to choose from running down from the Saulire peak into Méribel Mottaret as well as the open powder fields to be found on Mont Vallon, to name but two, Méribel is the best part of the Three Valleys to find yourself in when the skies have opened and fresh powder has fallen.
Of course this is all hugely subjective and Courchevel and Val Thorens have just as many die-hard fans as Méribel does, and with good reason. One of the most wonderful things about the Three Valleys is the range and variety of the resorts, pistes and amenities found therein. That said, Méribel is still the best…!
*nb: In this article ski can be substituted for snowboard in most instances and as the ski v’s snowboard things is getting old we are just using the word ski because a). there are more skiers, and b). ski is a shorter word than snowboard. Any real ski geek may want to dispute this, please do so in the comments below.
Can you remember every ski holiday you have ever been on?
A true ski geek can remember more than if they just had a good time. They should be able to remember the exact dates, who went on holiday with them, which ski resort they went to, the flight times, the exchange rate at the time and the chalets hosts name.
Do you own your own skis?
Most experienced skiers will at the very least have their own boots, which is sensible and comfortable. But the true ski nerd will have their own pair of skis, preferably two, a set for normal conditions and a wide pair for powder days. They must also own a pair of ski poles.
Can you pack everything into your ski bag?
A proud ski geek should be able to proudly inform you that they can pack all they need for a ski holiday into their ski bag, thus making a saving on excess luggage. For extra kudos they should have a story about being told off by an airline for this, with the story concluding “anyway they let me on and they said don’t do it next time”.
Do you have a second “budget” ski holiday every year?
The best ski geeks will take a second ski holiday every year. However, this trip must be so cheap that it doesn’t sound any fun. The holiday must include some of the following; a coach trip from the UK with three or more stops: hostel style accommodation; two hour commute to the slopes each day; no free wine; other ski geeks; no eating out; hitch-hiking; homemade fondu; booking every aspect online separately.
Can you name every run in resort?
For most people a simple “I will meet you at the bottom of that run yesterday next to the bar we like” is all we need to arrange to meet up. For the ski nerd you must you use the piste name as well as give a recommended route and call each lift by name.
Have you ever been on a ski holiday on your own?
If you love skiing so much that you are prepared to leave your loved ones at home so that you can ski all day where you want and apres as late as you want, not get first lifts if you don’t want, drink as much at lunch as you want, then…. errm…. why don’t we all ski alone?
Do you have a collection of lift passes?
Most ski geeks will have at least one electronic lift pass in their wallet at all times. They will also have a collection of passes from all past ski trips. Attached to their ski trousers must be at least one day ticket from a snow dome or obscure ski resort. The older skier must also be able to produce a photo id ski pass from the good old days.
Is your facebook/twitter profile a picture of you skiing?
All true ski nerds live ski all year round on their social media pages. That is until they get married, then they will change their profile to a photo of them getting married, this will last a week then it will be back to a picture of them in hat and goggles, or of them getting some air, or a snow covered mountain range.
Have you ever had an argument about which is the best ski resort?
This is similar to an argument about which football team is better, the only difference here is that they will be using examples of black runs as opposed to formation strategy.
Hello and welcome to another snow report. What can I say apart from it has been a truly stunning week out here in the 3 Valleys with wall to wall sunshine for the last 7 days. The weather was very warm for the most of the week which made the slopes a bit slushy in the afternoons, then towards the end of the week temperatures dropped a bit to leave some great skiing conditions.
Looking forward into the next week the weather is set to stay a bit colder than it has been and the possibility of some snow on Tuesday and again towards the end of the week. This week brings us the ski World Cup in Meribel with top skiers from all over the world coming to compete, so get yourself to the World Cup run and check out how the pros do it and maybe even pick up some tips to improve your own down hill skiing!
We are nearing the end of the season but the slopes are holding up well and with the forecast of some more snow on the way it looks like we could be in for some more great skiing out here in Meribel and La Tania.
This is Pete’s snow report for the week. If you want to find out more about Pete take a look at his profile page.
There has been lots of beautiful sunshine and cold temperatures 🙂
After the snow fall just before the New Year it’s been another beautiful week here in the 3 Valleys!! We have had pretty much wall to wall sunshine with cold temperatures since then with a few more centimetres of snow higher up the mountain early in the week.
VIDEO SNOW REPORT
The snow conditions are good from about 1800 meters and above, the temperatures have been sub zero and the snow cannons have been working well to keep the pistes in good order. It’s true, below 1800 meters the slopes are not in such good condition however the Folyères run to La Tania has been kept well thanks to the snow cannons being on and also the shade from the trees help keep the piste in good condition. The runs back into Meribel and Meribel Village are also open so skiing back to resort is not a problem.
The weather forecast for the next week looks much the same, with cold temperatures and sunshine. Apart from Sunday when we are expecting snow!!! There is also a possibility of more snow later on in the week for which we are keeping our fingers crossed!
Overall, there is some good skiing to be had higher up the mountain and with snow forecast for Sunday next week looks like it will be a good one here in the 3 Valleys.
You’re looking at all the things ready to put in your suitcases and wondering, how is it going to fit? And have I got everything? Going skiing with your children is a great holiday but there’s a lot of organising to be done before and after you arrive which can feel overwhelming………..
Cue your private ski nanny, she knows what the children need for the day ahead, how to get their ski boots on, where ski school drop off is, the best places to take the children to lunch and the best places for snowman building and sledging.
Having a flexible private nanny for the week can mean you really can just ski, relax and enjoy your stress free holiday.
What does the nanny actually do with the children all day?
The first day is the most hectic.Your nanny will swoop in early to make sure she has all the correct details, which of course she does as you have spoken to the childcare manager before your arrival and the nanny has even bought a toy box with lots of amazing toys, including a mass of train track pieces which you had put on your information form as a favourite toy of your sons.
Knowing there is a toy box at your chalet for the week has meant that you haven’t had to bring a whole suitcase just full of toys!
Ski school starts at 9:15 and the nanny has let you know it is best to get there for 9am on the first day to find the right class and settle the older children in. She starts to help get the children ready which is great as you also have to get ready yourself and you haven’t got a clue where your ski pants and helmet are.
She goes through the check list, thermals, fleece, ski socks,ski pants, waterproof mittens, suncream, snood, coat, helmet and boots and ski’s oooops and not to forget a snack in their pocket plus 5 euros for a drink and that’s the children ready.
The children are in the car and ready to go as the grown up’s collect their last bits together and off we go.
Its half term and ski school can be really busy but the nanny knows exactly where to go and who to speak to, to find out who the children’s instructors are. The older two are happy to go off with their instructor but little Jack is only 4 and has never skied before. He is feeling a bit shy and unsure but the nanny reassures him and tells him she will stay with him during his lesson then after they can go for a play in the snow together.
This cheers him up and off they all go with the instructor leaving mum and dad to head to the chairlift for their first day skiing relaxed and sure that their children are in safe hands.
Once little Jack is finished his first ski lesson he and the nanny go off to do a bit of sledging, go for a play at the park and for a Crepe then at 1:15 go to pick up his older brother and sister from their lessons and get the bus back to the chalet.
Mum and Dad give the nanny a quick call to see how everything is and all the children are fine and happy.
They have a nice warm pasta lunch and build a town with a gigantic traintrack running through and around it a game of hide and seek before colouring a picture to stick in their holiday diaries.
Then it’s time to pop on all their layers and ski clothes and head out to play in the snow, building snow castles and a snowman the size of Jack.
Meanwhile mum and dad have had a great ski a lovely lunch and have come back to very happy busy children, a warm cup of tea and a lovely afternoon tea cake while their chalet hosts get dinner ready….. A very relaxing first day of skiing.
Take a look at the childcare and nanny services that we recommend in Meribel and La Tania.
Exercise One – The Running Man
Exercise Two – Curtsey Lunge
Exercise Three – Side Step Squat
Exercise Four – Yoga Long Lunge
Exercise Five – Parallel Ski Jump
Exercise Six – Lunge and High Kick
Exercise Seven – Forward Diametric Jump
Exercise Eight – The Hindu Squat
Exercise Nine – The Dance of Warrior Two
Exercise Ten – Lunge and Rotate
Ski with www.alpineaction.co.uk