The hardest thing about being a skier or a snowboarder is that we are all slaves to the weather. While resorts like Méribel can make snow and ensure the pistes are always open. They can’t create that magical moment when you wake up to a massive dump of snow and go and ride fluffy white powder then at the end of the day you have a silly grin on your face and aching legs.
So while we anticipate what the weather gods will blow into the the Three Valleys this year, we thought we would analyse the last 8 years of snowfall and snow depth and make some cool graphics to tell the story!
Before even going skiing nearly 70% of skiers reported that they feel very satisfied after they have booked a ski holiday, with only 2% not getting any satisfaction from booking the annual trip.
The other 50% were all satisfied if they got out for the first lift however, there was a small percentage that weren’t. We can only assume that the unsatisfied 8% were more keen to a lie-in.
Ride, Eat, Party
We asked everyone how satisfied they felt after half a days riding, a long lunch, one more run and some Aprés? There was nearly a 30/70 split with the majority feeling pretty pleased with this approach to skiing.
Dump of snow
Unsurprisingly waking up to a fresh dump of snow was the most satisfying with 93% of skiers feeling satisfied/quite satisfied or very satisfied. There was a small group that weren’t very happy about this. We suspect that these are the same ones that were planning on a lie-in.
Becoming a ski instructor
We wondered how satisfying it would you be if everyone who had been skiing followed their dream and became a ski instructor? 31% claimed it would not be satisfying at all but on the positive end of the scale 42% of skiers would be very happy to end up working as a instructor.
Hiking and getting fresh lines
The results were pretty clear for the question “How satisfied do you feel after a day hiking and making fresh tracks?”. With the majority claiming that hiking was high on the agenda when looking for thrills on the mountain.
How satisfied to you feel at the end of the trip? On the whole most people felt satisfied at the end of a weeks skiing with a massive 52% being very satisfied. Not surprisingly there was an 18% who craved more mountain time which is why they should consider working a ski season.
Brexit was voted for and we will have to wait to see what the exit of Britain from Europe will look like. One thing the referendum has done is make us think about the future and how skiing and snowboarding might change over the next 50 years.
Snow and Climate Change
There is a big move for ski resorts to become more responsible for sourcing their energy as it is an industry that feel the affects of climate change directly. One example is our winter home of Méribel where all the energy that powers the lifts and snow cannons are powered by hydroelectricity. Other resorts are installing wind turbines and solar powered technology. You can expect most ski resorts to be self sufficient and 100% powered by renewable energy in the near future.
With climate change we may well see less snow and a shift in the seasons so we predict a huge rise in snow making. All the big resorts are investing in snowmaking equipment some are even making it part of their marketing. For example the 3 Valleys is boasting about the 2189 cannons it has covering 50% of its ski area. Maybe one day it will be 100%.
Since the the UK voted in the referendum the pound has dropped meaning that we currently get less euros to the pound. To help put into perspective the lowest cost of a € during the following winter seasons looked like this: 2013 – £1.14 : 2014 – £1.18 : 2015 – £1.26 .
We haven’t heard of a single tour operator currently looking to increase the cost of their ski holidays based on the referendum results and as you pay in sterling your holiday won’t cost any more.
However the cost of a lift pass is likely to creep up every year as the cost of maintaining and improving ski areas becomes more costly. But there is some good news as a handful of experts believe that the cost new chairlifts are coming down so maybe the yearly lift pass price hike won’t be as much in the future.
One thing that is sure to change is ski and snowboard technology. The fundamental design of skis probably won’t change very much so it is likely that it will be the boot that sees the biggest changes with fully mouldable outers and inners. According to Mike Hatrrtup from K2 we will probably also see a change in bindings with a move to magnetic systems in a bid to save weight.
The hoverboard could ruin everything if its is invented as that is because if they did create Back to the Future type hoverboard technology it would be like cruising down a powder field!
Currently the number of people skiing globally are decreasing and many in the industry are saying that the uptake of the younger generation is much lower and few people take it up later on in life. This could mean that ski resorts are quieter in 50 years time which is great news for people taking the sport up now.
Don’t worry about the future if going skiing or snowboarding makes you happy go to the mountains and enjoy yourself.
Way back in December 2015 there wasn’t much snow. Many resorts postponed their opening dates leaving quite a few sad skiers. However, this didn’t happen in the 3 Valleys. Of course the snowfall in Méribel wasn’t any different to anywhere else in the Alps but we did benefit from the incredible investment in snow making the Three Valleys has made. Of the other European resorts that were open most were only able to open around 50% of their runs, while Méribel was boasting 76% and the runs down to 1350m in La Tania we in perfect condition. With all the great skiing to be had, despite the lack of snow, it meant that we had very happy customers and that even included a group of travel agents that we invited out at the beginning of the season before the snow arrived in time for Christmas.
Spring skiing is outstanding again
It was as if the 2015/16 winter was reversed as heavy snow fell throughout April meaning that there was endless powder days accompanied by warm temperatures and blue skies. Much to the disappointment of many the snow even continued to fall after the lifts had shut, which wasn’t a problem for our resort director as he loves a hike. This late snowfall is something we have noticed in recent years and makes us wonder if it the amazing spring conditions are becoming a trend. Could April be the new December?
Méribel is as popular as ever
If you read any article on top ski resorts, Méribel or the Three Valleys will feature in most. This is unsurprising as, in our biased opinion, it does have everything from amazing aprés ski to the world biggest ski area all in one of Frances prettiest resorts. Did you know that you get about 2.1km of piste per €1 spent on your lift pass in Méribel for comparison you only 1.2km per € in Val d’Isere. It isn’t just us and the ski press that love Méribel, you do too. The resort has sat in the top 10 destination for British skiers for many years and this year Méribel was a respectable 6th.
The sleeper train is no more
One of my favourite ways to arrive in Alps is by sleeper train. Alighting in Moutiers early in the morning feeling smug that I had an extra day to ski than those who chose to fly. Of course I never remember the hassle of dragging skis through central London on a Friday night, the stressful dash across Paris and the irritating kids playing GameBoy all night as I try to sleep in a half upright position but smug is how I still felt. No longer is this option open to me as the SNCF has decided to cancel the service due to cost.
I thought the hardest thing about trying mono-skiing was going to be finding a mono-ski and then I clipped my boots in and discovered that actually skiing on one ski with my feet next to each other was actually harder.
After having the idea of giving this minority sport a go I set about looking for some kit. I started my quest at the usual ski hire shop. My question was met with silence and then laughter, they didn’t have one. After trying my luck at a few other shops where I was met with similar reactions I was told to try a hire shop that I had never noticed in resort before. I found it in a big apartment block located between some sort of office and a restaurant. Just by looking at you knew that it had never experienced the British onslaught of boot fitting and bad ski carrying techniques only seen on a transfer day.
Inside the shop there was a good selection of skis, certainly no snowboards, cross country equipment, snowshoe kit and two mono-skis of questionable quality. I arranged with the owner a day to hire them, filled in the paperwork and left a deposit. Next I went to inform my accomplice in this adventure who seemed surprised and mildly concerned.
It may be worth you knowing the level of our skiing. I was average at best, having learnt skiing at a young age then abandoned it for snowboarding, something I have later come to regret not least on the upcoming “mono-ski” day. My buddy was a better skier than me however, his distinct Dad style gave away the many floors in his technique which would also hinder his mono début.
The day arrived and lucky for us it was a pleasant spring day on the mountain. In a vain attempt to distract anyone from our lack of ability, we decided to dress-up as we assumed a mono skier would dress. Our outfits involved headbands and day-glow clothing, a look that seems to repeat itself on the slopes regularly as part of a decade long fashion cycle.
I went for the turquoise and pink mono-ski the other one was purple and yellow this seemed to reinforcing our choice of attire. We headed for the lifts. Rather predictably we opted for the British approach to taking on something new which is to muddle through, invent and learn in the field. Our first challenge was the chairlift. I won’t waste your time with faux suspense at the outcome. Let us just say there were people sat on a stationary lift for some time.
Finally we were clipped in, we stood up and pushed off. We weren’t expecting immediate success nor were we expecting it take 2 hours to get down a slope that would normally take us 5 minutes to ride down. There isn’t the forgivness on a mono that you get on two skis and the motion of planting poles is crucial to success leaving me endlessly muddled in my attempt and on the floor after most turns. My biggest mistake was trying to use my poles to push off to make the turns. This did aide my speed down the hill however, that was with my back lying on the ski, feet still clipped in, head pointing down, with poles and head gear liberally distributed down the slope.
My second mistake was telling people we were going to attempt this and choosing a run than pretty much had a lift running over it the whole length. Normally I am the one sat on a chairlift laughing at the misfortune of others, today I was being laughed at, commented on and on occasions applauded but with irony. My friend fared no better than me I am pleased to report. Possibly my third mistake was not giving up after the first run, through the course of the day my technique didn’t really improve and my biggest success was probably linking 10 turns before confusion ultimately got the better of me.
At the end of the day we felt a bit sore, quite demoralised and no better at mono-skiing. I can thoroughly recommend this as a minority sport that you don’t need to try.
This week has been springtime skiing at its very best! Blue skies, sunshine and heaps of snow have brought us one of the best weeks of skiing this season and the good weather looks set to stay. If you’ve ever hesitated about booking a holiday later in the season this week has been an example of how fabulous it can be, with empty slopes to boot!
We have got piles and piles of snow after 2 big dumps in the last couple of weeks, the snow pack is over 220cm at the top of lifts and 125cm at the bottom with more than enough snow to see us through to the end of the season. There is even still some powder to be had if you’re willing to look for it! Every lift and piste in resort is open with all 3 Valley links up and running and all of the parks and fun areas are looking in fantastic shape.
The sun is set to stay in the 3 Valleys for the next week, some impressive goggle tans are starting to form and we already spotted our first shorts n’ t shirt combo of the spring, maybe a little prematurely. We are expecting a few snowy showers overnight to top up the runs but blue skies during the day- perfect conditions!
Springtime means party time in the 3 Valleys, outside enjoying the sunshine with a demi peche and some good tunes. This week we have a veritable feast of musical talent! On Monday night from 10pm we have Newton Faulkner playing in Lodge Du Village with local favourite Hobo Chic, then playing again at the Spring Party at the Chaudanne on Tuesday evening. We also have Norman Jay MBE spinning at Rond Point for Wednesday Apres, arguably the funkiest apres of the season!
There has never been a better time to come out to the three valleys, just don’t forget your sun cream!
It’s one of the busiest weeks of the season in Meribel, half term! The slopes are full of snaking lines of ski schools and the pubs are a lot quieter (not a bad thing!). However we have found lovely empty runs coming down from the Tougnette 2, the amount of choice up there means if you go for the furthermost runs, Cretes and Blaireau in particular, you can really enjoy the amazing snow we have had over the last couple of weeks.
Weather The clouds have finally broken and the sun is shining through! For the last two weeks in Meribel and La Tania we have been under a blanket of thick cloud, snow and rain but the weather is on the move and pockets of blue sky are starting to appear! The rest of this week is looking promising with light snowy showers and sunny spells, perfect half term weather. The temperatures are set to get milder towards the weekend and the skies are going to clear completely.
The snow in the three valleys is in amazing shape! The snow pack is 2 metres at the top of the lifts and 1 metre at the bottom. The snow itself is soft and light with some icy patches as you head back into resort. Our advice would be to stick to the higher runs to get the best snow and avoid the busy lift areas and tracked out runs back into resort, and when you do descend if things are looking a bit busy consider skiing down into a quieter area such as Morel or Meribel Village and use the free bus service to get you home.
Believe it or not we are over halfway through the season, after a shaky start snow-wise it has turned out to be a great season. Fantastic snow, the sun is coming out and we have good few weeks of great skiing ahead of us!