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7 reasons why whiteouts are fun

7 reasons why whiteouts are fun

Picture the scene… You wake up in your ski chalet, you look out the window and all you can see is white cloud.  You think to yourself “bugger” and you get back into bed. As you lie in bed you think about going back to sleep and having a lie in, you are on holiday after all.

You can hear the chalet host setting up for breakfast and other guests getting ready to go out. You start to feel guilty and start working out how much the lift pass costs and how much your lie in is worth.  Reluctantly you get out of bed and start dressing for the day at the same time you convince yourself that it is low cloud and that it is bright and sunny up top, probably with a light dusting of snow.

Don’t be downhearted there are lots of ways to have fun in a whiteout.

1. Trees

Head for the runs that carve through the tree line. There you will find plenty of shade to mark out the piste and the contours.

2. Guilt-free lunch

That’s right. You probably won’t burn off your lunch today however you can take your time over it. Without feeling guilty that you are not making the most of the perfect conditions.

3. Lose the slow ones

Sometimes you have a few slow mates that you feel duty bound to ski with. Use the flat light as camouflage to accidentally on purpose lose them and have a day hooning around.

4. Imagine the adversity of others

We all know the story of  Scott of the Antarctic.  While he never had the luxury of a Folie Douce, piste patrol or chair lifts, he did have his share of poor weather conditions.  Use the whiteout to imagine what it must have been like to face the epic struggle that he went through, then go to the pub.

5. Appear knowledgeable

A whiteout is a perfect time to show your ski knowledge and tell anyone who will listen that the piste markers on with the orange tops should always be on your left to ensure you are in the middle of the piste.

6. Create a story

When you get home remember no one wants to know about the blue run you skied 8 times in a row. They will be much more interested in the tale about you losing your partner of the side of a run only for you to have to walk back up, locating them with squeals of “help I am in a hole”, which you dig them out of while laughing at their misfortune.

7. Extended apres ski

Pretty self-explanatory. Remember you will regret this when tomorrow is a fresh powder day with blue skies.



Run report – off-piste in Meribel

Run report – off-piste in Meribel 

By Alpine Action’s Resort Rep, Rob Bartlett 

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

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

alpine action staff off piste meribel

The rules of off piste 

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

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

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

fresh ski tracks meribel off piste

Where to find off piste in Meribel

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

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

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

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

Arolles – Run Guide

Arolles – Run Guide

Part of the fun of skiing is testing yourself on a variety of different slopes. Some people prefer a cruisy blue, others might like the tranquillity of a green track through the woods while more advanced riders will love to pick up some speed and carve their way down an open red.

WP_20140115_010Given that the Three Valleys is the largest ski area in the world, skiing in La Tania and Meribel allows you to tackle all these types of runs and more. However rarely does just one piste offer such a variety of different sections. One of the exceptions that proves this rule is the Arolles piste in La Tania.

Thee beginnings of the run are not that promising. Arolles splits off from the Loze Est run a little way down from the top of the Bouc Blanc lift. While it offers fantastic views of both the Courchevel and La Tania slopes on a good day, this exposed plateau often catches the prevailing wind and is a bit flat, especially for boarders. But persevere…


As you approach the top of the Plantrey lift take care to keep left as you can pick up speed quickly as the gradient gradually increases. as you round the small rise, suddenly a widen open blue opens up, allowing you to really put the wind in your hair by carving your way round this relatively steep section.

After a couple of hundred metres you come to a natural plateau, helping you to regulate your speed before you come over the next rise. From here the ground drops away again, with the top of the Forêt bubble ahead and the entire valley stretching out ahead, with Le Praz nestling at the foot of the mountain. This section is a best tackled at cruising speed to take in the views and watch out for riders congregating around the lift station.

As you pass by Forêt, you take a sharp left and find yourself underneath the bubble cables. At this point the wide piste has narrowed to a track with just a moderate gradient at what is arguably the most attractive section. Now down amongst the trees, the run winds to the edge of the Bouc Blanc red. This brisk cruisy track is especially good in the morning when the snow is fresh as it can occasionally become slightly slushy in the afternoon as heavy use can make it a victim of it’s own popularity.


At this point you might be tempted to take the steep section of Bouc Blanc directly to the top of the La Tania bubble but I’d recommend keeping right round the sharp bend and seeing Arolles through to the end. The track continues through another mellow wooded section before a left turn takes you to the top of a short but steep bank. Boarders should take a tight line round the apex of this corner, allowing them to up the heart rate a little again, as well as to pick up enough speed to cross the mound around the La Tania bubble station. Skiers can afford to take it slightly wider if they wish as they way up continuing down Folyères for a well-earned drink in La Tania, or catching the Dou des Lanches or Bouc Blanc lifts to discover more of the 3 valleys.

Author – Rob Bartlett

Insider Tips on How to Make the Most of the Three Valleys

Insider Tips on How to Make the Most of the Three Valleys.

The Three Valleys ski area sits in the Tarentaise Valley of the French Alps, and is home to some of the country’s finest ski resorts. From Courchevel in the east, through la Tania, Meribel, Mottaret, St Martin de Belleville, les Menuires and then Val Thorens, the Three Valleys boasts the largest lift-linked ski area in Europe and is quite simply some of the most exciting terrain you could ever hope to ski.

From complete beginners through to world-class skiers and snowboarders, the Three Valleys has slopes suitable for all, and with so many resorts to explore the range of accommodation options here is spectacular. But the question is, whether you’re there for just a week’s holiday or you’re working there the entire winter ski season, how can you make the most of the mighty Three Valleys?!


Pistes for all Levels

 Beginner skiers in the Three Valleys can find a number of areas which are perfect for comfortable progression. Meribel’s Altiport takes pride of place as the single best part of the Three Valleys for learner skiers. Gently rolling, broad, sheltered and long, it’s just the most fantastic place to master those all-important first turns. Aside from that, Courchevel 1850 and the nursery slope under Val Thorens town centre are also superb.

Intermediates looking for long, undulating terrain can focus on the area between Courchevel 1850 and Moriond, where the pistes flow down between the pines and exploration is a joy. The Meribel valley is well suited to intermediate cruising as well, especially on the Saulire side. The approach down into Mottaret is steeper, the perfect place to push yourself. The fantastic selection of blue and red pistes around the les Menuires and Val Thorens end of the Three Valleys are also ideally suited to intermediate skiers and boarders. In

Advanced skiers looking to get real mileage under their skis can challenge themselves to ski lift-to-lift and get right across the Three Valleys and back in time for après ski. Although it’s perfectly doable if you’re quick enough, you don’t want to get caught out the wrong side of a ridge as those taxis are pricey! Highlights include the red Jerusalem piste down towards St Martin and the Folyeres run down into La Tania. If you want a real challenge, try skiing from the Saulire peak all the way to either Courchevel le Praz or Meribel Village non-stop!

Off Piste; the Highlights

First things first – if you’re going off piste then pack a probe and transceiver and hire a guide! That said, read on. Everybody who knows the Three Valleys well will have their own favourite spots to head to when the powder is fresh, and this is a huge ski area so few people know them all!

A highlight from this writer involves starting at the Saulire peak and heading down the steep couloir above Meribel. Once through the couloir, stay right and stay high – you can traverse the entire mountainside off piste all the way down to the point where it re-joins the piste.

Another great of piste track starts at the Tougnete peak – in fresh snow you can drop in near there and bounce though fluffy powder all the way to St Martin! This run has its pitfalls though and a guide is highly recommended.

Over in Val Thorens, one spectacular bit of back country is accessed from the top of the Boismint chair. Once you reach the top, climb up and over the ridge in front of you and drop in. Following the valley along its natural course, you pop out at the bottom and can head off to the right to catch the base of the Plan de l’Eau chairlift.

Back in the Meribel valley, from the top of the Saulire gondola you can ski to the enormous rock that sits on the Courchevel/Meribel border, take a right and traverse past the edge of the piste. From here you can pick your line carefully and ride down the mountain off piste all the way to Meribel Mottaret!

Terrain Parks

In a nutshell, there are two outstanding parks in the Meribel Valley; the Moon Park and the DC Area 43 Snowpark. Both offer a superb range of hits and kickers, though the Moon Park is slightly smaller. Both parks are within easy reach of Meribel Centre, heading in the direction of les Menuires.

There’s also a fantastic snow park in Val Thorens, located under the Plateau lift.

Après ski and Nightlife

The best après ski and nightlife in the Three Valleys is found in Meribel centre, Courchevel Moriond and Val Thorens. Apres ski bars such as the Folie Douce in Val Thorens or the infamous Rond Point in Meribel are perfect places to enjoy a drink and a dance at the end of your ski day.

For late night partying, Malaysia nightclub in Val Thorens and Dicks Tea Bar in Meribel are highlights, with regular sets from international DJs as well as various club nights throughout the week.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a bit of peace and tranquillity, villages such as Courchevel le Praz, la Tania and St Martin have very little of the nightlife of their noisier neighbours and are the perfect antidote to all that silly dancing!

Ski Schools

In general, the level of tuition you can expect in the Three Valleys is very good. With the ESF operating across the board and an excellent selection of international ski schools to choose from as well, classes for all levels and pursuits are readily available. Whether you’re looking for beginner lessons in the hope of learning the basics or hoping to progress to parallel turns on skis, keen to master mogul fields on your board or push yourself past your plateau, the sheer range of tuition options in the Three Valleys means you’ll find the right classes to meet requirements.

Overall however, the two resorts offering the highest quality tuition are Courchevel and Meribel. It’s in these resorts that the best beginner slopes can be found, and it’s here that the best of the best ski schools are based.

La Tania by numbers

La Tania by numbers

Countdowns are all the rage on Channel Four and Infographics are popular sources of information. We live in a society dominated by facts and numbers. Let’s be honest there are very few of us that fit the cool bracket when it comes to skiing. Most of us just enjoy the riding but at the same time have a nerdy passion for the sport. From this geekery comes the need for stats and statistics. So here for all of us number crunching, info loving, fact drinking ski nerds is a guide to La Tania in numbers.


2 – Great pubs- We can recommend drinking and eating in either the La Taiga or Le Pub de Ski Lodge

3 – La Tania is part of the massive Three Valleys skis area. It sits between the valleys of Courchevel and Meribel.

4 – Chalets that Alpine Action has in La Tania

5.50 – in euro that is the price of a pint

8 – The number of runs that La Tania has

14 – Number of beds in our largest chalet, Cote Coeur

42 – Is the cost in £ for return ski carriage

44.50 – Is the amount a one day lift pass will cost. This price is in €

120 – Minutes that it takes to get from our preferred airport, Grenoble, to get to La Tania

629 – Is the starting price of many of our La Tania Holidays

1400 – Meters that La Tania is above sea level

1176 – Kilometres from our head office to La Tania

1992 – The year La Tania opened as part of the winter Olympics held in the same year

1993 – Alpine Action was created

01273 466535 – The Number to call to book a holiday to La Tania

So there you are fact fans, lots of La Tania facts. This would be a great gift to print out and give to your dad so he can read it on the aeroplane. Then he can repeat them to you on the transfer coach and then at dinner to the other guests. Let’s just hope that he was the only person to have read this!

Meribel Twinned with Aviemore

Meribel Twinned with Aviemore

If you are keeping up with our campaign to twin Meribel with an British town you may have some of the following opinions.  A Common in London with a ski slope once a year is not what you would consider a sensible option for a place to twin Meribel with.  A sleepy town in Oxfordshire is not a perfect match, despite it being the home of the founder of Meribel or maybe you thought that twinning Meribel with a town in the Lake District was good but not good enough. And it could be that you feel our reasons for trying to twin Meribel with Shoreham-by-sea are a little selfish. Then maybe Aviemore is the sensible suggestion you have been looking for.

Meribel has a ski area on its doorstep and so does the town of Aviemore, let’s go the whole way and admit that they are both ski resorts and have a lot in common. Take a look at the table below.

Aviemore Meribel
Lifts 12 57
Vertical Drop 500 1852
Parks 1 (snow dependant) 2
Pistes 28 74
Highest Point 1245 2952
Alpine Action Chalets 0 7
Restaurants 20 110

Other than sharing some great skiing the two also have another thing in common, great Après ski! That’s right, just like Meribel there are loads of pubs that are full of British people getting drunk. Some people have even compared The Vault night club to the infamous Dicks Tea Bar.

Some people say that a ski resort isn’t a ski resort if it doesn’t have a Funicular, (a steep incline railway). Luckily for both Meribel and the Cairngorms they can both be considered a proper ski resort. But the reason we bring this to your attention is that it is in this area that the Aviemore ski area trumps Meribel. Just take a look at the two Funiculars below and decide who’s is most impressive.


How to stay safe on the slopes

How to stay safe on the slopes

How many of you know that there is a code of conduct for all slope users? In 2002 the Federation International de Ski (FIS) introduced a code that all skiers, snowboarder, telemarkers and all other disciplines should follow. Take our short quiz to see how much you know.

Quick FIS ski code quiz

Question #1: Which side can you overtake on?Question #2: According to the FIS what does respect for others mean?

Question #3: Where should you not stop on a piste?

Question #4: If you witness an accident what must you do?

Question #5: Where must you look before starting to ski on a piste?

How did you get on? You really should have scored 100% in that quiz. However, whatever your score you should still refresh your memory of what is in the code of conduct for skiers and snowboarders.

Respect for others – Every mountain user must conduct them self in a manner that does not prejudice or endangers others.

Skiing or snowboarding within your ability and conditions – At all times you must be in control of your movements allowing for the conditions and traffic on the piste.

Choice of route – The person on the slope below has the right of way. This means the uphill skier or snowboarder must choose a route that does not endanger the person below.

Overtaking – Overtaking is permitted from any direction. The person that is overtaking must allow enough space should the other person perform a voluntary or involuntary movement.

Entering or starting to ski on a piste – When entering a piste or starting to ski or snowboard from a stationary position on a piste, you must look up and down the slope and make sure it is safe to move.

Stopping on the slopes – Unless it is unavoidable you must never stop in a narrow section of the piste or in a place where there is restricted visibility. Should you fall at any point you should move to the side of the run when it is safe to do so.

Walking – Should you find the need to walk up or down the mountain you should do so at the side of the slope.

Follow signs and marking – Please take notice and follow directions on all signs and information boards.

Help others – you are duty bound to assist where possible at any accident involving fellow slope users.

Identification – If you witness an accident or are involved in one you must identify yourself and exchange details.

This code will help you and others stay safe on the mountains. So please follow them and make sure you have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Teaching a loved one to ski – Part one

Teaching a loved one to ski – Part one

When you put “keen skier” on your dating profile, the chances you will get one of the UK’s estimated 1 million active skiers is slim.  There is slightly more chance of finding someone who has been skiing, once.  But I doubt it is a deciding factor when weighing up the options for a marriage proposal.  The chances are that you will end up with a non skier.

Skiing is often something you learn when you are young. For most of us we had ski lessons when we went on a family holiday or school trip. Learning young makes it easier when we are older. It also makes us more determined to fit in a ski holiday no matter what.

So what happens when you fall in love with a non-skier and finally pop the question; “Will you go on a ski holiday with me”? Let’s hope the answered was a yes, and delirious with joy,you book your holiday.

As the dedicated and experienced skier what you are imagining is this… Hooning down the fresh powder, fast groomed pistes and steep challenging runs. All the while your non skiing partner is in ski school until they are good enough to keep up with you. What they are imagining is blue skys, snuggles on chairlift, skiing down empty runs hand in hand, with rainbows and romantic music playing in the background.

 What will actually happen is that you will say, “You should go into ski school”.
“But I don’t want to. It’s our holiday and I want to spend it with you. Couldn’t you teach me?”
You think about the potential skiing that you will miss out on, but take your loved ones feelings into consideration. You look at the cost of ski lessons and think “bugger that, I’ll teach them myself”.

You arrive in resort, the snow has just stopped after 3 days of dumping, The forecast for the week is sun. It is now day one. You are stood on the baby slope with the person you love. They are stood there in ill-fitting, borrowed ski clothes, with their bronze ski hire. You look at the mountain and sigh, you turn to the most important person in your life and say “first we need to learn to snowplough”. By mid morning you have covered the nursery slope 3 times, you partner is happy with the progress, however, you look up to see the powder fields slowly getting tracked out.  After lunch you move on to turning. It’s not going as well as you hoped.

On day two you wake up hopeful that your lover wakes up to say how much they ache and maybe they would like a day not skiing? No such luck, they have the skiing bug. This should please you and you should consider the long term implications of this, more ski holidays. But no, you are disappointed, especially as your attempt to palm them off onto someone else staying in your chalet failed last night. You carry both your sets of skis to the beginner area, today we are going to try and learn parallel turning. An edge is caught, there are tears and an extended lunch break. Little progress is made in the afternoon as it is just a confidence building exercise.

On day three you consider leaving your skis in the chalet. You say “don’t feel like you have to ski all day. You can have a rest in the afternoon if you like”. Somehow this backfires and you are rewarded with kisses for being thoughtful, but your offer is declined.  You choose a gentle slope to “session” for the day. You know it would normally take you 5 minutes at the most to ski this slope. The First time today it takes nearly two hours. The second time it takes half an hour less. Your legs are cramping up, and you are cold from waiting around so much. “I’m just going to ski down and catch the lift back up, I will catch you up.” The thrill of skiing lasts less than a minute before you reach the lift. From the lift you see your pupil and spouse lying on the slope with two skis located uphill from her. They are moving, phew. You don’t wave. Maybe this will put them off for the day. When you ski back down you can’t find them. Your phone rings. They have had a tumble and gone back to the chalet. “You go and have a ski without me”. You know you shouldn’t, but you do. A frosty reception awaits you at the chalet, but you have had a great afternoon skiing. Chalet wine will sort this out.

Click here to find out how the rest of the Holiday goes.

What’s On Guide – Meribel and La Tania – March 2013

What’s On Guide Meribel and La Tania – March 2013

Thanks for popping in and finding out what is on in Meribel and La Tania in the month of March. The other day I was stopped on the slopes by a loyal reader and asked why does Alpine Action only talk about what is on in Meribel and La Tania? Well, dear, loyal reader it is because we only have chalets in Meribel and La Tania. So without any more twaddle, here is what is going on in March.

3rd March – Meribel

DC Shred days is like a big park competition with massive sponsorship, but without the competition element. The idea is for three days of laid back riding with some big names and locals all showing off what they can do. There will be a big variety of terrain for everyone to have a play on. If showboating snowboarders isn’t your thing then you could just turn up for the BBQ and tell stories about the one you nearly landed.

7th March – Meribel

Calling all geeks. Your thirst for information on how they make snow in the Alps is about to be quenched. Meribel are offering you the chance to take a back lot tour of the resorts infrastructure. All you need to do to get on this nerdathon is to get your name on the guest list at the Chadanne lift office. Palaces for this are limited book early to avoid missing out.

10th March – Meribel and La Tania

This is a public service announcement – This is Mothers Day.

14th March – Meribel

There are many things in life that are certain, two of those things are that at some point Marcus Brigstocke will perform a comedy set in Meribel and the band the Feeling, (famous for being married to Sophie Ellis-Bextor ) will play a gig in Meribel. This year they have teamed up and will be killing two birds with one stone and doing a combined performance at the Meribel Auditorium. We have no further details, however, there are rumours that Marcus will be singing that song that the Feeling are famous for.

17th March – La Tania

St Patrick’s day is celebrated in Irish themed bars around the world. Sadly La Tania lacks an Irish Bar, but it does have a pub that loves a good party, especially if there is a theme. So if you are in town then head out to the Ski Lodge for an Irish Stout. You can also expect fiddle music, Guinness paraphernalia, Leprechaun hats, bad accents, things that are green and a drunken Australian.

24th March – Meribel

Where do you rate yourself in the world of skiing? Best in your family? Best of your mates? Best in Resort? Best in Britain? From the 24th of March you could try and find out at the British National Ski Championships.  There will be all the standard formats, such as the Super G, Slalom and Downhill. You don’t have to take part, you could just pop along and have a look at some of Britain’s future stars and pushiest mums.

30th March

Did the idea of British National Ski Champs sound to tame for you? Did watching Marcus Brigstock and the Feeling, back to back, not seem extreme enough for you? Then why not enter the Derby Du Rock Merlet.  It is called a Chinese style race, which means that everyone starts at the same time, there are no rules and the winner is the first person across the finish line. A great event for participants and spectators.

La Tania to Les Arcs and back

La Tania to Les Arcs and back

A few years ago I had the pleasure of staying in the Chalet Hanneke in La Tania. There were two reasons I had chosen to stay in this chalet in La Tania, other that the first class reputation Alpine Action has. The first was because I have been luckily enough to work in Courchevel a few years back and wanted to relive the memories with some old friends. Secondly I was considering putting in a Jacuzzi bath in my house and as each room comes with one en suite it seemed to make sense.

The week was sunny, with good conditions on the slopes. The group had fun reliving the days that we spent when we were young season workers. We went to all the bars that we used to frequent, we even cringingly spoke to current resort workers starting with the line “I used to work here”, I believe one of us even tried to get “seasonnaires discount” at a bar. I think you could say that we tried to relive the dream. Naturally we reminisced and talked about stunts we pulled, adventures we went on and opportunities we had missed.  It was during one of these discussions that we came up with a challenge for ourselves.

  From Courchevel you can see the back of the La Plagne ski area which goes to down into the village of Champagny and from La Plagne you can get on the Vanoise Express cable car to Les Arcs. Also if you buy a full week long Three Valleys pass you are entitled to ski for a day in another ski area. It was this basic knowledge that formed the basis of our holiday/ reliving the dream challenge. The actual challenge was to go from La Tania to Val Thorens, ski across the three valleys then make our way to Les Arcs highest point via La Plagne. The rules were that we must only use public transport or lifts. The Jeopardy was that if we get stuck in Les Arcs or the wrong side of La Plagne we face a very expensive taxi ride back to our chalet in La Tania.

On the morning of our challenge, we had the inevitable drop outs due to an extended après ski session. We also had to kindly persuade a few weaker skiers not to come as this would be a long, fast, tough day with no hot chocolate stops.  We had a big breakfast in the chalet that included lots of coffee. We got our ski kit on and waited at the bottom of the La Tania gondola for it to open. Making it pre-first lifts is a challenge in itself. The ‘ liftie’ kindly let us on 5 mins early and our group of four explorers were off. During the first assent we convinced ourselves that we are probably the first people to attempt this, if nothing else we were at least the first people staying with Alpine Action to attempt this, either way we were skiing pioneers.

We reached our first check point of Val Thoresn in good time, the slopes were empty and the lift queues were nonexistent. To get to Val Thorens we dropped down into Meibel Center up to Mottaret. The mountain remained on our side as we made our way to the top of Saulire. It was as if everyone had remained in bed just for us. Our second goal of the day was achieved, even we couldn’t believe we had made it before 10.30 in the morning.

From the top of Saulire we looked down on Courchevel, ready for the first of several long descents. This one would take us through Couchevel 1850, and 1550, past Le Praz and down to Saint Bon at 1100 meters, making a total vertical drop of over 1500m. Surprisingly the snow towards Saint Bon was good enough to ski on, which was a relief as no one had bothered to check if the run would be open. It was here that we hit our first problem, where was the bus stop to Bozel. Bozel is a small town in the valley where would get on to another bus to Champagny.  We found the bus stop and were glad to see that we were in time for the next bus, so we waited and waited. The bus was only 4 minutes late but with our tight schedule this seemed like an age.

We reached Bozel and had 15 min until the next bus to Champagny, so we had a look around. The highlight for me was the Pizza vending machine which we vowed to use on the way back. The bus was on time and we sat down on the front seat for a quick disembark at the other end.

There was no queue for the bubble out of Champagny, but time was getting on we ate our lunch on the lift and started to raise doubts about succeeding in our quest.  We knew it was a pretty straight forward run to the Vanoise Express from the top of La Plagne, but we also knew that after that point we were going to be on a lot of chair lifts. Luckily for us the weather was lovely sunshine and light winds, also,  there wasn’t any fresh powder to distract us. Once  we were off the gondola we weaved our way up to the top of Grand Rochette, then dropped down to Plagne Bellcott just in time to miss the lunch time rush. As we reached the Vanoise we looked up to see that time was slipping away from us, it was almost 1.30 and still 6 lifts away from of Les Arcs Check point at the top of the Aiguille Rouge.

On the first lift out of Plan Peisey, doubt was beginning to creep in and the threat of a €250 taxi ride started to weigh on the group’s mind.  An argument broke out about which lift to take next. The lift we did take stopped for 20 minutes which left us dangling and angry. The lift finally moved and we were on our way down to Le Arcs 1800. The queue here was massive so we decided to split up an use the single skier entrance, this also gave us all time to cool down. At the top of Transarc gondola we regrouped and had a team meeting, we all agreed that making it to the top of the Aiguille Rouge was not going to be possible. The decision we made was to go to Arc 2000 have a celebratory demis and head back.

We ended up stopping on a bar terrace in Arc 1950, called Luigi’s. We were rather please with ourselves and thought that we had done very well. Back on our skis and down to a lift named after some bears we rode. I knew from experience that from the top of here we could make it to the Vanoise Express in one run.  Unfortunately I also knew that there were several errors that could be made that would mean we end up in the Village of Vallandry and an extra lift away from getting back across to La Plagne. So it happened that we ended up in Vallandry. The Piste map was confiscated from me and we went back up the hill.

Finally we were on the double decker cable car that would take us to La Plagne side of the where we then had to take 4 lifts up a hill side that only took us 8 minutes to come down. The lifts were in the shade and the sweat on our backs was cooling, we knew that we were still not safely home yet. The time was near 4 and the lifts were shutting soon. We had to get down into Plagne Center and back up to the top so we could ski down to Champagny, it was looking like we might make it. Finally we arrived at the top of the Arpette and could see where we had to be. By now our muscles had cooled and our legs were starting to ache. Nonstop down to Bellecote, silence on the next lift, then flat out to Plagne Centre.

We were pretty much the last people allowed on the lift up to Les Verdons. On the lift we congratulated ourselves for making it, this was the last lift we had to catch. The run from the top down to Champagny was the last run we had to do. It took us quite a while. It was a long way, with slush snow towards the bottom. We arrived in the valley with the sun setting and a burn in our legs. We now needed to get back to La Tania. We went to the bus stop to find out that we had missed it. We sent our best French speaker to the tourist office to break one of our rules and book a taxi. The taxi that arrived was a 52 seat coach that cost us €4 each. Maybe we hadn’t missed the bus after all.

In Bozel we discovered that we had defiantly missed the bus up to Le Praz. So we consoled ourselves with a vending machine pizza and played paper, scissors, stone to see who would phone the Alpine Action resort manager. The response was that they don’t make a habit of picking up stranded guests but  a there was a minibus on it’s way up the hill they would get it diverted. Half an hour late we were picked up by the company driver. He asked us how we had become stranded in Bozel. We told the story, with embellishments. His response was simply “legends”. An endorsement from an actual Seasonnaire, we at least achieved that.