2018 has started with over 130cm of snow falling from the sky adding to the epic December snowfall of 2017 to leave depths of up to 280cm across the 3 Valleys. This quantity of snow means that we have some of the best conditions on and off the piste in recent years.
When there is a huge amount of snow there will always be a risk and the avalanche warning levels remain high. However, the piste security has been working overtime and all the runs are now open and all the high-risk faces have been blasted.
With all this snow you would expect people to be flocking to Meribel and the 3 Valleys to ski the amazing conditions but you would be wrong. While we are 99% full, some guests have been commenting on how quiet the slopes feel? So not only are the conditions incredible the queues are short and the runs clear.
The runs down to the lower resorts such as La Tania and Le Praz are in great shape and much better than usual which means they can be enjoyed and not just treated as commuter piste!
There is some easy safe off-piste or “Sidecountry” to tackle within the resort’s boundaries but if you are planning on making the most of the deep stuff we advise you hire a guide and pack all the essential kit!
The joy of this season so far has been the bursts of snow that are followed by clear skies that reveal the pristine snow-covered landscape that excites you and hurries you out of bed for a day of non-stop skiing.
This excitement doesn’t look like it will be stopping soon. The people who predict the weather are saying that we can expect at least another meter to fall at the end of next week over a few days.
Up until Tuesday the 16th we can expect sunny skies to help us make the most of the current conditions.
You have probably heard about all the snow this season but if you haven’t here is everything you need to know about the conditions in the Three Valleys.
Since the colder months arrived the Three Valleys has officially received around 135cm of snow and there is more to come over the next few week.
UPDATE – FRIDAY 8TH DECEMEBR
Opening dates and prices
Val Thorens opened for the season on the 25th of November and due to the conditions, Courchevel opened up for a day of free skiing on Wednesday the 22nd of November.
The season truly gets underway on the 9th of December when Meribel and Courchevel start the lifts up and all the links open. La Tania opens a week later on the 16th of December in time for a white Christmas.
Lift Pass Prices
How good is good
Currently, the base level at altitude is between 80 and 100 cm which is the average for a whole season. Ski runs back into Meribel have a respectable 30cm coverage.
We have said the snowfall has been impressive this season but how impressive is it? The first snow fell on the 30th of October, since then we have received 7 more significant snow days, with the best being 40cm on the 20th of November.
Last winter 80cm of snow fell in November but crucially the temperatures were unusually high causing the snow to melt at lower altitudes which made the beginning of the season feel a bit like spring. This year the temperatures have remained low and have stayed in the minus figure since the first snow fell.
The amount of snow that has fallen places it in the top 3 best starts to a winter season since 2006, only being beaten by 2008 and 2012, but this could change over the weekend.
Looking ahead there is another 50cm of snow predicted to fall before the lifts open on Saturday and the snow won’t be stopping for most of the week with a total of 176cm set to fall on the higher slopes by Friday the 15th. The snow may continue into Christmas week as there is another half a meter appearing on the longterm forecast.
Our guide to how you can help your body recover from a day skiing or snowboarding : Get the most out of your ski trip.
Do you plan to get ski fit for your next trip only to put it off and then suddenly you’re on a plane and you haven’t done any relevant exercises? Skiing and Snowboarding works parts of your body that you don’t use in everyday life. If you aren’t “ski body” ready there are going to be parts of you that will ache after a day on the slopes. There are things that you can do during the evening in your chalet to make you feel ready for the next day on the slopes.
Stretching is one of the best ways to help your body recover after skiing, it will help you to avoid sore muscles the next day. Stretching after a day of riding helps muscles return to their original position by removing the tension. During your post ski stretching the circulation of blood will return to your muscles allowing them to recover and repair. Make sure that you focus on stretching your leg muscles, glutes and lower back.
Here is a handy warm down guide from ski expert Warren Smith.
Warming your muscles up a few hours after exercises can really help ease the pain and get your body back to it’s full potential. In many ski chalets you will find a hot tub or a sauna. Don’t mistake these for novelties that add a level of sophistication to your holiday, these are important bits of kit that can help your post ski recovery. Warming your body in a hot tub or sauna increases blood flow and allows more oxygen get to your muscles. Experts advise that you wait for several hours before hopping into a sauna or a hot tub after skiing or snowboarding and to make sure that you are thoroughly hydrated. Many sports therapists also suggest that you should wait until your a few days into your trip before indulging your muscles as the heat can also inflame your muscles and slow down the recovery.
… & in the morning
If you are an early riser or you don’t rush out onto the slopes you may want to use the time to warm up in the hot tub, sauna or shower. Warm muscles are less likely to be damaged during exercises.
A great way to make sure you are ready for the next day on the slopes is to get a sports massage that works on the soft tissues around the most worked parts of your body. A massage after skiing should focus on your lower back and knee area. Having your body looked after like this will aid your relaxation and increase your recovery.
Out of all the techniques this is probably the best at ensuring your muscles recover overnight. The chances that your chalet will have enough ice on hand to do this is unlikely but don’t worry. All you need is a bath at normal cold tap temperature, between 8°C and 10°C. The cold temperature will slow the inflammation and help get the recovery process working faster. You should go for two session of five minutes with a warm up in between. If there is a fresh dump of snow you could always jump in that.
All the above will be a waste of time if you don’t hydrate effectively at the end of the day. We all know that at altitude you lose water from your body faster than at sea level. If you are then taking part in a strenuous activity such as skiing or snowboarding you will become dehydrated even quicker. You body needs liquid to help with repairing muscles as well as to extract the nutrients from your food during the digestion process. Taking a drink directly after skiing will also lower your heart rate faster and ensure that you don’t spend the evening feeling fatigued. Please note that chalet wine is not an acceptable way to hydrate yourself!
Do you always find an excuse to not ski at Christmas?
You have probably thought about going skiing at Christmas every year but something has put you off and you have always found an excuse. We have spent many Christmases in the 3 Valleys and we can confirm it is the most wonderful time of the year. You also get an extra thrill when you suddenly realise that it’s Christmas Day and you are on the slopes and having great time.
Whatever your reason for not going in the past here are a few excuses you can use this year.
#1 You just love skiing
Maybe not an excuse and more just a fact but if you love skiing then what could be a better present to you and your family that the gift of a ski trip. It also means that you get to try out that new pair of skis that you will have been bought for Christmas.
#2 Christmas is on offer
A week skiing during Christmas has never been so reasonably priced with all tour operators offering big savings, making the cost similar to off peak weeks. Our prices are starting at £599 pp for the festive week and there are savings of up to £350 pp on our best properties. So if you have always put off a Christmas ski trip due to price now is your chance.
#3 White Christmas
Every single year Bing Crosby sings “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”. He is right to do so. If you look at the facts you notice that the UK hasn’t had widespread snow on the ground during Christmas since 2010 and before that it was 2004. So to combat this you could head to the 3 Valleys where they pretty much can guarantee you a White Christmas.
#4 Be looked after
The demands of Christmas day for those hosting can be huge, will Aunt Janet get too drunk, will the turkey be cooked in time, have you peeled enough potatoes? Why not avoid this and go on a catered ski chalet holiday and let them look after you? All you will need to do is go skiing and relax… unless you bring Aunt Janet with you.
#5 One for the humbugs
Spending Christmas in a skiing is a great compromise as in a way it always feels a bit like Christmas in a ski resort. But at the same time it doesn’t as everything is open and everyone is either working or skiing or both. This makes it a perfect place to spend Christmas for families of mixed festive spirit.
At the beginning of November, the ground was looking a bit brown with small patches of snow from previous snow flurries and snow cannons. Now the whole ski area is cover in the glorious white stuff! Here is a look at all the photos and videos from the last few days.
Latest webcam round up
Val Thorens capture the first few flakes of snow on the 5th.
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.
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?
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.
Find out what is new in the 3 Valley this winter 17/18
The winter is not very far away now! Skiers will be on the slopes of Val Thorens on the 18th of November followed by Meribel and Courchevel on the 9th of December. As always the companies behind the 3 Valleys lifts and pistes have been working hard over the summer to introduce new or improved facilities for its customers!
New Lifts in the 3 Valleys
Loupit – Rond Pont – Covered magic carpet
The beginner’s area located by the Rond Point in Meribel will have new Covered Magic carpet similar to the one found in Mottaret. The learner zone alongside it will also be developed into a safer space for skiers to master the basics away from the busier slopes.
Ariondaz Gondola – Courchevel 1650 -Moriond
Over in Courchevel 1650 the old Ariondaz gondola that takes skiers and boarder out of the resort has been replaced by an 8 seater lift that can carry double the amount of passenger up the hill.
Moraine – 10 seater Gondola – Val Thorens
€14m has been spent on installing a new gondola in Val Thorens. The 10 seater lift is 2.5 km long and carries skiers up to the foot of the Glacier de Thorens.
Roc de Tougnete – 6 seater – Meribel
For many years there has been 2 drag lifts that served this area and for that reason it often goes unexplored by many. The arrival of this new lift will change all that and make the Lagopède and Bartavelle pistes a lot more accessible.
New Pistes in the 3 Valleys
Lac de la Chambre – Meribel
Previously a red run the Lac de la Chambre that started at the Col de la Chambre has been given a new course down the mountain to make it into a easier blue. The run is a great way to get back from Val Thorens into Mottaret and Meribel.
Croix d’Antide – Val Thorens
High up above the Orelle valley there is a new blue run called the Croix d’Antide it can be found under the Peyron chair and runs parallel to a piste of the same name.
Corniche – Val Thorens
Another new blue piste in Val Thorens. This one runs from the Folie Douce and joins up with the stade to make an easy run back to the resort.
New Luge run
A new 3 km luge run has opened up in 1650 and can be accessed by the new Arinodaz lift. This means that there are now loads of sledging opportunities in the 3 Valleys to complement the original and best one in Courchevel that runs from 1850 to 1550.
4 hours ski pass
This season sees the end of the half day pass as the 3 valleys will introduce a 4-hour pass that can be used at any point during the day and will cost €54.5 . It is worth noting that it is still better value to buy a 6 day pass at €300 if you are going to ski all week!
In the last 25 years, ski fashion has changed a lot!
Since we started up 25 years ago we have witnessed a wide range of ski fashion on the slopes from the death of the onesie to its rebirth there have been a lot of styles.
We thought that while we are reflecting on 25 years of making ski holidays we should look back at some of the clothes we probably wore but have since binned and erased all evidence of.
Ski fashion in the 1990’s
The 90’s witnessed the transition from the bright clothing of the 80’s to day-glow and pastel colours. But it didn’t mean goodbye to the onesie as that iconic piece of clothing manages to hang around almost until the turn of the century. It was also a when the ski bib arrived on the slopes. Essentially it was just the top part of an all in one suite and often came with a belt located around the midriff and kangaroo type pocket pouches.
It was also a when the ski bib arrived on the slopes. Essentially it was just the top part of an all in one suite and often came with a belt located around the midriff and kangaroo type pocket pouches.
Headbands were still part of the trend for our heads and for some reason wearing a baseball cap on the slopes was becoming a thing! Towards the end of the decade, synthetic fleece material was starting to be used and dictate a lot of the new styles as well as the development of gore-tex inspired materials. Wearing a one-piece was a thing of the past and the two piece with the dungaree style salopettes was starting to emerge.
Ski Fashion in the Noughties
Colour was starting to become a bit more muted on the pistes of the early 00’s with greys, greens and blues becoming popular and there was an assumption that if you wore something bright that you were a good rider. Padded jackets also became a must-have look despite the lack of movement it offered the skier, combine this with the microfleece layer and we all started to look like all we ate was fondue.
Snowboarding was at its peak of popularity in the double O’s and by the middle of the decade was starting to have an influence on winter ski fashion. Snowboarding trends were influenced by the baggy clothing of the skateboarding scene. The desire for baggy low cut trousers aided the demise of the traditional salopettes and the need for upper body movement encouraged the development of looser lightweight jackets. And as time went by the ski world started to adopt the styles and fashions of the “cooler” snowboarding scene.
Ski Fashion in from 2010
By the time we headed into the second decade of the century colour was back, the rivalry between skiing and snowboarding was just a murmur and rock star winter sports icons like Shaun White and Lindsay Vonn had emerged. Ski clothing was now practical, well designed, trendy and affordable. The main trend has been for technical clothing that performs well for its intended use, with clothing designed for different disciplines. The baggy look has been overtaken in both sports in favour of a return to a more fitted look.
The main trend has been for technical clothing that performs well for its intended use, with clothing designed for different disciplines. The baggy look has been overtaken in both sports in favour of a return to a more fitted look.
One of the most important fashion developments to happen was the styling of helmets. Originally these were cumbersome and unattractive, they were practical but not very cool with a one option fits all. Today the majority of piste users wear them and they have evolved to match your look. The protection of your head is well and truly in vogue.
We have also seen a growth in retro looks on the slopes. Originally there was a wave of ironic 80’s clothing being worn on the slopes which was aided by the arrival of online companies renting out retro ski outfits. Slowly this has become adopted into the wider mountain fashion but there are also companies making redesigned onesies that look pretty cool!
Convert your non-skiing friends! Send this post to them!
Skiing. It’s not a closed-group thing, quite the opposite actually, but if you’re a non skier it can be a little off putting coming into conversation with a bunch of regular skiers or snowboarders. “You’ve never been skiing? What do you mean you’ve never been skiing?!!” You end up either with the opinion that skiers are a bunch of incredulous idiots, or that skiing is actually worth a bash… perhaps you’ll get round to it one day…
But there are many good reasons for this wall of disbelief! Skiing is a joy, a buzz, a real thrill, and these days it’s nowhere near as pricey as it once was. So what do you mean you’ve never been skiing?!
1. Skiing is a wonderfully challenging and rewarding sport to undertake
Whether you’re a complete beginner mastering the intricacies of the snowplough turn or a seasoned expert well used to high speeds and big air jumps, there’s always somewhere to push yourself to improve. In Europe, for instance, the pistes are divided up into four colours representing their gradient; green, blue, red and black. The sense of satisfaction you experience when graduating to steeper terrain as you progress in the sport is fantastic, and really spurs you on to improve further. Equally for more advanced skiers, the buzz of landing a new jump or discovering and nailing a fresh powder field never really wears off.
2. The Great Outdoors!
The special blend of clean, fresh air and magnificent Alpine peaks is a massive draw. Ski resorts today are mountain playgrounds and it’s easy to forget how remote you actually are. But stop and think – two thousand metres up with crisp white snow all around – these are scenes of rare beauty! Drink it in!
3. Wonderfully hobby
Gathering a group of like minded friends for a week of challenging skiing, boozy après ski and lively banter is what some of the best memories are made of! It’s the joy of shared experiences… amazing fun with a group of mates. It’s also a great way to widen the social circle, because organising a large group of skiers almost invariably involves fresh introductions at the start of the week. Before you know it, you’re enjoying banter and laughs with friends old and new over a few refreshing après ski beers… joy!
4. Great travel opportunities
It’s an easily overlooked point, but skiing is also a great way to see parts of the world you’d never otherwise get to visit. Despite the British bars and boozy après ski which prevails in many resorts it’s perfectly possible to step off the beaten track, make an effort with the lingo and enjoy genuine cultural enrichment. Of course, such experiences are perhaps more fulfilling in the smaller, traditional ski resorts… Woe betide the poor sap who tries to order une grande biere s’il vous plait in Jack’s Bar. But there are myriad chocolatiers, patissiers and the like in resorts across Europe who would welcome your efforts. And quite apart from any linguistic foray you may make, exploring ski resorts in different countries is also a great way to try new cuisine. Savoyarde specialities such as tartiflette and foldue are well known classics, but there are plenty more where they came from.
In short, not only is skiing a fantastically challenging and rewarding pursuit, but it’s also amazing fun! Push your boundaries and test your mettle in spectacular scenery, live to tell the tale then gather the gang, save a few quid up and do it all again next winter!
A lot has changed in skiing over the 25 years we have been making skiing holidays in the 3 Valleys!
Alpine Action started providing catered ski holidays to the Three Valleys in 1993 and over those 25 years the world of skiing has changed a lot. We thought we would take a look at some of the things that have fallen by the wayside since Dennis welcomed our fisrts guests back in the 90’s.
1. Straight Skis
It is hard to believe but people were still predominantly using straight skis in the early 90’s and it wasn’t 1993 that carving skis were put on mass sale by Elan skis.
2. Chalet Maids
1000’s of people are employed each year across the Alps each year as chalet hosts to work in chalets and look after guests. It is hard to pin point exactly when it stopped but female staff were originally referred to as chalet maids. We are glad that it moved on.
3. Making Cow Noises in Cable Cars
Back in the late 90’s early 00’s it wasn’t uncommon for a busy ride up the Saulire cable car to be accompanied by a chorus of moo’s created by the passengers, this was sketch recreated in crowded téléfériques around the world. It seems that this comedy routine has faded and is no longer performed but like all comedy acts it could well make a comeback.
4.Rear Entry Boots
In the 90’s the design race of the ski boot was coming to an end. At one point the rear-entry boot seemed to be winning with its comfort and how easy they were to put on. In the end, performance won and we all switched to the more responsive front entry boot… well except that mate of your dad who you only ever meet on the annual family ski trip.
OK so we still see them now but they now are no longer a fashion statement and more of a sign that you are incompetent at applying sun cream.
Ski hire had a bad reputation for years. Do you remember how you feared turning up to the hire shop knowing that you would be presented with 3 year old boots and skis with zero edges? Today you can be confident that you will receive comfy fitting boots with a set of sticks that are new that season and have been serviced in-between customers.
One of skiing’s greatest losses was the unironic wearing of the all-in-one. Not only were they warm and comfy they all so came in such an array of bad designs guaranteed to offend the eyes.
9. The division between skiers and snowboarders
It could be one of the worlds most pointless feuds that for us, reached a crescendo when each party tried to blame each other for the creation of moguls. Fortunately we have moved on and share the mountain in relative harmony and leave pointless feuding to the likes of Kim Kardashian & Taylor Swift.
10. Spag Bol AKA Terrible Chalet Food
When you have been out in the mountain air all day you look forward to dinner. These days you will return to the chalet and be fed a 4-course meal designed by experienced chefs accompanied with a selection of wines. Long ago it was deemed acceptable to plonk down a pan of spaghetti bolognese and a bowl of angel delight!
11. The Lift Pass Holder
The fumble fumble of the old photo pass attached to a mini retractable washing line has been replaced by the efficient beep beep clunk of the modern electronic pass that can remain in your pocket. It has also helped reduce queuing time.
12. Novelty Hats
This may depend on your definition of novelty. We are mainly talking about the long and spikey hats made from synthetic fleece and came in a variety of horrendous colours.
13. Long Drag Lifts
There is still a place for the humble button lift. However, the place isn’t over 1ooo vertical meters of tough, steep, icy terrain. Fortunately, they have stopped being installed and most are slowly being replaced. Goodbye thigh burn.
14. Knees together
As the years have gone by the skier’s stance has got wider. At one point a requirement to become a ski instructor was to prove yourself by skiing with a hanky held between the knees. A wider more balanced stance has now been adopted.
15. Head Bands
Since we started operating another type of headwear has disappeared from the slopes, the headband. Once they were the height of fashion driven by floppy hairstyles and non-breathable clothing. Now they have been resigned to the poubelle.
16. The Jump
For 4 years this has been one of our favourite programs on TV. The show featured celebrities learning a variety of snow sports, ski jumping and generally getting injured. Recently Channel 4 announced it was resting the show and we all know what happens when we sit down.
17. UK Ski Shows
There was a time when it felt like there was a ski show in every city from Glasgow to Brighton with Birmingham in-between. This year there is just one survivor left, The London Ski Show.
18. Smoking in Bar
Of course, this isn’t just a ski thing but it always seemed that even more smoking was done in the bars of ski resorts as well as the lifts and shuttle buses.
19. The Courchevel Eggs
For a while it felt like the out dated but iconic egg looking lifts of Courchevel from Le Paraz would never be replaced. But then they were and no one has missed them since!
Seriously when was the last time you saw someone on one except in a novelty competition?
21. Lack of UK Success on snow in the Winter Olympics
In 2014 Jenny Jones took bronze in the Snowboard Slopestyle comp, securing the UK’s first Winter Olympic Medal. Since then a large amount of funding has been pumped into the GB ski and board team and there are high hopes for the 2018 games.
22. Bunny Ears
Putting skis poles to your head is over as people realise it is no longer an efficient way of attracting attention on the slopes or looking cool in holiday snaps!
23. Being Disconnected
Along with Cornwall, the mountains used to be one of the few places left in the world where a mobile phone signal was virtually impossible to get. Today people are on their phones even while skiing down the mountain.
24. Slope Side Photographers
The upside to everyone having a smart phone in their pocket is that we no longer get hassled by photographers when we get off the lift or while skiing down the easy green into the resort.
25. Slopes Without Snow
Snow wasn’t always guaranteed. With the development and investment of snow making facilities, mega resorts like The 3 Valleys can guarantee there will be snow cover on 80% of the slopes for the entire season!
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