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.
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.
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.
After a great week of skiing, delicious food in your catered chalet and little bit of aprés it is hard not to feel a little blue on the run back to the airport. There isn’t a 100% cure to the glumness inside but there are ways you can make yourself feel a bit better…
Talk about buying a place in the alps
“Maybe we should all chip in and buy a place in the alps” is how the conversation starts. You all know deep down that it won’t actually happen but that doesn’t stop anyone. Before the coach has arrived at the airport you have started a WhatsApp group and are sharing links to wildly unaffordable properties. One member of the group provides a spreadsheet breaking down costs that unlike your home has zero outgoings. In the arrivals hall while waiting for your luggage you all agree to look at how much you can afford to “put in” and promise to meet up soon to discuss it. You all leave happy and dreaming about the chalet you will never buy.
Consider a job as a chalet host
To avoid the post-ski holiday blues you could look into getting a job in the Alps next winter. Start by asking your host/driver/rep on that last day if they are enjoying their season. Undoubtedly they will say yes and stir up your desire even more. You can then spend the next few days after your trip applying for jobs and imagining how good you will be at skiing by the end of next season.
Book your next ski holiday
Beating the blues is all about having the next thing to look forward to. If you are out early in the season you could always book another ski holiday that season. Or you can start planning next winter’s ski trip and maybe go all out and put the deposit down. As they say booking a holiday is almost as exciting as going on one. It is worth noting that booking a ski holiday a season in advance can often be cheaper as many tour operators will honour the current season price.
Concoct an epic ski trip
Why stop at dreaming about your next ski holiday. Why not plan an epic snow chasing adventure like Travis Rice in The Fourth Phase in an attempt to abolish the sadness. You could keep it local and plan to ride every dry slope in the UK. Or maybe dream of riding a mountain on every continent, just imagine ticking off Antartica.
Buy some new ski kit.
For instant gratification get online and buy some stuff. During your holiday you will have decided that something needs replacing, maybe your jacket is a bit drafty or your goggles are scratched. It could be that you are still skiing in rear entry boots. A post ski holiday spending binge is the perfect way to cheer yourself up. Plus you get the 2nd tier of excitement when they arrive in the post and a 3rd wave of joy when after 10 months of never actually using whatever you ordered you discover it just before your next trip.
Start eating mountain style at home
They say food invokes memories so why not spend the week after your trip trying to recreate that meal you fell in love with that your chalet host cooked. Or maybe if you want more cheese and cream google a recipe for Tartiflette and indulge in some traditional Savoie food. You could even dig out the fondue kit that you found in the house when you moved in. Then get the ingredient from the supermarket and invite some friends round to indulge in melted fromage and ski stories.
Watch a ski or snowboard movie
Your final option is to wallow a bit longer, pull on your PJ’s, crack open a bottle of wine and stick a pizza in the oven. Then choose your favourite winter sports movie, snuggle up on the sofa, reminisce about the fun you had during your trip and dream of next time.
If you need some help getting over this year’s trip by planning for next year then take a look at our catered ski chalets in La Tania and Méribel. Or give us a call on 01273 466535.
The beautiful thing about the 3 Valleys is there’s something for everyone. If you aren’t a skier/boarder or your body won’t allow the aches and pains that come with the sport, there is still so much to do. If you love the mountains; scenery, crisp air, breath taking views and fabulous lunch spots, you can still experience this at a slower pace. There are some stunning walks around Meribel and La Tania to keep you more than entertained.
One of our hosts Adrian from Chalet Cote Coeur has been out of action due to injury. He and his partner Gemma decided to adventure around the local landscape and see what La Tania walking trails have to offer. We interviewed them to find out more, here is their account of the Teppes Trail a beautiful, snowy, woodland walk:
Teppes Trail, La Tania with Adrian and Gemma from Chalet Cote Coeur
Starting out at the bottom of the Grand Bois lift, cross the bridge to the centre of the resort. Take a left towards the shops and walk up the steps between the Saucisse Savoyarde deli and and the Ski Lodge. Turn left at the top and follow the road for about 20 meters, then take a right up the steps leading to the Saboia residence. The top of these steps is the beginning of the Teppes trail. Follow the footpath through the woodland and enjoy your adventure!
Adrian and Gemma…What was your favourite part about the Teppes trail? When the trail went through the woods off the main track up to the picnic spot.
Would you say this is an easy walk? If not what ability do you think suits this kind of walk? Yes I would say it was easy, Adrian managed to do it with a broken collarbone.
What attire would you recommend for the trail? For example: snow shoes, normal shoes, poles etc… We went in our snow boots, wore thermals, ski jackets and took ski poles.
Are there any lunch/refreshment stops on the way? There is a picnic spot at the top of the trail with benches and a lovely view.
How long did the walk take you? It took us an hour to do the walk
Did you see any wildlife or interesting plants during your walk? We didn’t see any animals but we did see lots of animal tracks and there was an information board at the picnic spot telling you about the wildlife and plants.
Would you say that La Tania is an easy access resort for non-skiers? Yes I would there are many walks that you can do in the woods and up the mountains so there is a lot of variety and there are many snow shoe walks in Le Praz that we want to do as well.
For more information on walking routes and alternative activities, check out our “Non-Skiers” pages on the Alpine Action website…
La Tania non-skiers: CLICK HERE
Snow & Weather Report for the Three Valleys – Week 2 – December 2016
Welcome to our weekly guide to the slopes and skies of the 3 Valleys featuring up to date reports from the in-resort Alpine Action team. You will also find events listings for Méribel & La Tania.
Snow Conditions in the Three Valleys
During the past week there has been a few flurries of snow all the way down to 1200m which had a big effect on the pistes across the area. If you look at the webcams for the resorts you can see it doesn’t look pretty at low altitude as there is grass clearly visible but this distracts from quite how good the skiing still is once you are out of the towns and up in the mountains. If you are heading out for a week of quality piste riding then you won’t be disappointed. The slopes above 2000m are in good condition and have a decent base thanks to the huge November snow and the might of the Three Valleys snow making ability.
The 3 inches of snow that fell during the week wasn’t massive but it was enough to make the runs feel fresh. It is also encouraging for the weeks ahead as it means that the ski area can continue to use the snow cannons and ensure that the resort remains one of the best places to ski in Europe.
The way to get the best out of the mountain at the moment is to follow the sun around, hitting Méribel’s and Courchevel’s east facing slopes in the morning and then hopping over to the west facing slopes of St Martin and Val Thorens in the Afternoon. You can still get around the whole 3 Valley area easily as the majority of links are open and 74% of lifts are currently operating.
There is potential for snow during the week and if it does come then it will be just a few inches so you won’t need to dust the powder skis off just yet. Through the week there will be intermittent cloud cover but it will generally be sunny allowing skiers and boarders to make the most of the terrain that is open. During the days the temperature will peak at at around 3° and drop down to -5° overnight allowing many of the 2186 snow cannons to work away freshening up the slopes.
What’s on this week in Méribel & La Tania
Week: 20th – 24th December 2016
Evolution Bar featuring:
Hobo Chic and Max Le Sax 10pm
Ski lodge: Les Deux Roux 10pm
Womens Alpine Ski Comp 3pm :
Featuring the French Alpine team, Chaudanne♫Live Music♫Apres Ski:
Le Rond Point featuring:
DJs Bubble and Crisp
Jacks Bar featuring:
Wingmen + The Mardy Jonny Depps
Apres at Ski Lodge with The Slopes 5pm
La Taiga : Al Jones 10pm
Lodge du Village featuring:
Bring Your Sisters, 10pm
Mountain Movers event Jack Beats playing live.
Apres with bring Your Sisters 5pm
Open mic night 10pm with
Daisy B and Tom
Meet Santa – Resort Center, 4.45pm
Apres with The Shadowmen 10pm
Lodge du Village : Christmas Carols, 6pm
Jacks Bar : Bad Christmas Jumper Party, 10pm
Christmas Eve Party – Ski Lodge
Santas Grotto – Live Music – Drink promos
Late availability to Méribel and La Tania
We have a few rooms left in La Tania next week, departing on the 27th of December if you want to spend New Years Day skiing off that hangover. Prices are from £699pp.
It’s a fact that we spend more time thinking about skiing or boarding than we actually spend on the snow doing it. Some of us are happy just dreaming of being on the mountain but occasionally we need a reminder of what we are missing. The other day we found ourselves sat on the sofa trawling the internet for ski movies to get us through the summer. We found some new, some old and some very boring movies to watch and after we had quenched our frozen water thirst we thought we would share what is out there with you so you could hydrate yourself.
Watching a snow movie reminds you how much fun you can have out it the mountains.
Below is a selection of ski and snowboard movies and TV shows that are available on the internet with subscription services like Netflix and Amazon, as well as free services such as Red Bull TV and YouTube.
Steep was filmed in 2007 and looks at the history of extreme skiing, it starts by looking back at the 1979’s when a skier called Bill Briggs who was a pioneer of Big Mountain Riding skied down the Teton Mountain in Jackson Hole. The history of the sport is told with the help of ski legend such as Shane McConkey, Chris Davenport and Ingrid Backstrom. The motto of the film and the people featured in it is “ski where the sport of skiing is still an adventure” and this is what the film is about too.
Deeper – Further – Higher
This trilogy of snowboarding films starring Jeremy Jones isn’t all about tricks and montages, it truly is about the adventure of free-riding and searching for the ultimate line in some of the worlds most extreme places. Jones and his crew don’t just rely on heli drops they believe that mountaineering is part of the experience of big mountain riding. These films follow Jeremy and the team who film him as they go deeper into the back country. These aren’t films about goofy snowboard dudes these are documentary’s about pioneers and explores who respect their environment who just happen to have the best way of getting down a snowy mountain.
I went to the Cinema to watch this when it came out and spent the time scoffing at the unrealistic depiction of chalet staff, later on I reflected on this thought and realised that being realistic would have made a pretty boring film. The movie is loosely based on the story of Olympic Bronze Medallist Jenny Jones and her life as a seaonnaire. While the actual ski and snowboarding content is limited, in an odd way, you might find this film inspires you to get back on the snow or even apply for a job as a chalet host.
Also on Netfilx is My Side of the sky a TV docudrama about Windells Academy a school for snowboarders.
Going Downhill Fast
If you are a fan of science movies that you were shown in school in the 90’s and made in the 80’s then this is the ski movie for you and it is also Amazons only ski offering. The documentary talks about going fast on skis and has interviews with experts who talk about snow in terms of penetrating particles and freezing points. Watch this if you want to learn something, not if you want arty shots of powder runs and big air. Going Downhill fast
Red Bull TV
Art Of Flight
If I owned a company that made too much money, I like to think that, like Red Bull, I would just keep ploughing the money into doing cool stuff to promote my company! Despite the fact that The Art Of Flight is a feature length advert, but then aren’t most ski films, this is one of the best and possibly the most beautiful winter sports film ever made. The film starring Travis Rice documents what its like to challenge yourself in a dangerous environment and challenges what you may think about riders who put are searching constantly and pushing the boundaries.
Red Bull TV has plenty to keep any winter sport fan entertained for hours with shows such as Keep Your Tips Up a documentary about a group of riders making a movie, a film about Lindsay Vonn’s comeback and one about Mike Shaw a pro skier who was told he may never walk again.
There are 4 of these movies that have been since 1983, originally a promo video for Les Arcs these films have turned into a cult classic. This isn’t your usual ski movie and don’t let what I am about to tell you put you off. Firstly there is a plot that revolves around the snowboard legend Régis Rolland on his swallow tail board as he is chased around the mountain by evil mono skiers trying to capture the secret of skiing. The music is incredible the stunts amazing and the ski outfits are some of the best you will ever see. Still not convinced.. I have put the first instalment below. Trust me you will be hooked.
Also on YouTube is the movie a Few Words which is a documentary by Quicksilver about one of the worlds most accomplished skier, Candide Thovex. One reviewer describe its as “A great overview of the life of this incredible skier…. great cinematography as well as music and the skiing out of this world 10/10; this is one ski film worth buying and keeping.”. Which obviously you don’t have to as they have uploaded it to Youtube. It is a high quality movie that will make you consider the possibilities of what is possible with a pair of skis, before you realise that remembering which pocket you put your lift pass in is hard enough.
Emily Sarsfield is the UK’s number 1 female Ski Cross athlete, has been ranked 20th on the World Cup circuit and is a member if the British Ski and Snowboard squad. For the last 10 years Emily has lived, worked and trained in Méribel and is a big fan of the Three Valleys. Recently we had a chance to sit down with Emily and talk to her about what she loves about our Alpine home.
Val Thorens World Cup, credit: Daniel Smye-Rumsby
Not only does Emily train in the Three Valleys she also runs a small ski school offering private lessons out of Méribel, this is obviously when she isn’t competing and is often during the school holidays. The reason she does this is because unlike many other athletes she doesn’t receive funding, so has to find ways to fund her own training and racing. As Emily bases herself in the Three Valleys and is always returning in Méribel, we started be asking her why she keeps coming back, her response was that the resort has a strong community, although she doesn’t behave like the usual seasonnaire and is likely to be found in the gym when everyone else is in the pub.
We then chatted about her missing out on the Winter Olympic Games and becoming a ski instructor but we soon ended up back on the subject of Méribel. One of the first thing Sarsfield mentioned was the fact that all of the resorts in America would fit into the Three Valleys before pulling out the usual but true clichés and declaring that Méribel is “postcard picture perfect”.
Megeve World Cup, credit: Daniel Smye-Rumsby
In the 10 years of skiing in the Three Valleys she doesn’t think she has skied every run, which is probably very true, after all the years we have been working out there we probably haven’t either. If you live somewhere for a long time you will inevitably notice the changes, one of the big things Emily has noticed is how the access to cross the entire ski area has developed and even beginner skiers can now move from resort to resort on mainly green runs.
“There is always something different” – Emily Sarsfield on the Three Valleys
Of course one of the main reason Emily loves the Three Valleys is because of the Ski Cross park in Val Thorens, which is one of the best in Europe and regularly hosts World Cup Events. Over the years she has fallen in love with off piste skiing which the the 3Vs has plenty of when the conditions are right and Sarsfield top tip is to head up the Loze chair on a bluebird for some easy access powder.
We saved our “best” question until last, when we asked her in our serious interviewer voice, what is her favourite run in the resort and the answer was the Mauduit. The run is from the top of Saluire and goes all the way down to Méribel Center, or you can choose to head down to Méribel Village. She described the run as “long, open, well groomed and a thigh burner”.
If you would like to keep up to date with Emily then check out her Facebook or Twitter.