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.
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!
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!
This year we are celebrating providing catered ski chalet holidays in Méribel & La Tania for 25 years.
We wouldn’t be where we are today without our amazing guest and wonderful staff. To celebrate we are collecting as many photos from everyone who has been involved in our 25 year journey and building this archive of memories.
It is a long wait between ski seasons in Europe. The wait is almost bearable if you’re are a resort worker. But for most of us who can only fit in a one-week holiday, it is 51 long weeks. So what can you do to get your skiing fix during the long hot summer months?
1. Indoor and Dry Slopes
There are 100’s of these dotted around the UK, some big and some very small. You can find a full list of slopes on the Ski Club of Great Britain web site. There will be one close to you and they should have a small range of ski hire equipment too. In fact, why you are at it, you may as well take some non-skiing friends along and try and tempt them into taking it.
If you can convince them to come on your next holiday you will benefit from amazinggroup discount, which is time well spent.
2. Water Skiing and Wakeboarding
Admittedly it isn’t the same. For a novice, it can be a bit like spending time on a slushy drag lift and it can work out costing a lot more than a week’s skiing. You will also get wet. But if all that doesn’t put you off then it is a great way to feel that comforting leg burn that you get after a good day hooning around the slopes.
You could probably fit the whole of Australia’s and New Zealand’s ski runs into the Three Valleys or even the Meribel Valley, (not an actual fact). Sadly we don’t offer catered ski holidays there and there is a long flight to consider. But that shouldn’t put you off. The skiing is actually very good in both countries.
What more could you want from a bit of summer skiing than to be carving down Kangaroo Ridge with a tinny instead of a demis.
5. Find a Glacier in Europe to go skiing on this Summer
There are some wonderful glaciers that are open for skiing during the summer. You could even pop over for the weekend. Our favorite is located just down the road from our spiritual home of Meribel, in Tignes. There is also a great one in Zermatt although it will take you about an hour to get to it from the resort.
We missed Méribel when we went skiing somewhere different
As you probably know we love Méribel and we love skiing in Les 3 Valleys. During the 25 years of operating in the area, we have witnessed the resort and slopes evolve into the incredible ski experience they are today.
But that doesn’t stop us venturing to other resorts for a ski day or even a holiday. Over the last few years, we have visited the Espace Killy, Chamonix, Ischgl, Borovets and recently La Clusaz. It was this last one that made us realise how amazing The 3 Valleys are!
We are not about to character assassinate another resort and the truth is we had a lovely holiday skiing in a different place. Nor do we want to be the sort of people that say “why would you want to go anywhere else?”.
We understand that we all need to try something different, but we also know how good it feels to return to the familiar especially when it has the added bonus of being the best!
Our spring trip to La Clusaz was great, the resort was lovely, and the scenery stunning. In short, we had a great time. However, when you come from one of the best resorts in the world you do start to miss things.
By going skiing at the extremities of the season there is always the risk that the snow conditions won’t be at their best. Our trip was in spring and the snow cover across the alps wasn’t outstanding.
The 3 valleys have over 2000 snow cannons across ⅓ of the ski area, in our spring destination there were just 200 and many of them were not in use due to the temperature and low altitude.
We can all have an opinion on what is good and bad skiing. What you can’t argue with is that the 3 Valleys is the largest ski area in the world and offers terrain and runs for every skier. Yes in a small resort it is harder to get lost and in this case it was a great way for a mixed group to easily split up and hangout at the same time.
But if you consider that we occasionally discover a run that we haven’t skied for 10 years in the 3 valleys you can forgive us for not being satisfied with the amount of skiing on offer in other resorts.
Like the 3 Valleys the Annecy Ski area is many small areas linked. During my weeks stay none of the links were skiable, no runs were open into the resort and we relied on a car to get between ski areas. During the same week over in Méribel all the links were open and there was a plenty of runs open and runs back to resort were kept open.
During the same week over in Méribel all the links were open and there was a plenty of runs open and runs back to resort were kept open.
The next thing I started to miss was the quality of the infrastructure found in Les 3 Valleys. Every year there are new lift developments in the 3 Valleys and there has been clear progress in upgrading old lifts. So it is easy to tell when you’re in a resort that hasn’t had seen heavy lift investment.
So it is easy to tell when you’re in a resort that hasn’t had seen heavy lift investment. Many of La Cluzas lifts were old and none were covered, there was also a reliance on draglifts to access many of the ski areas.
One of the charms of La Cluzas is how it has retained its original charm and very much remains a French ski resort. This has also meant that it isn’t quite up to scratch when it comes to Apres time! There is nothing to rival the Folie or the Ronnie and the bars in town are a more subdued affair.
Also after a recent Austrian ski trip and experiencing the whole Europop, Flulgle , dancing on the table madness I realised how well balanced the Apres ski scene in Meribel feels.
As we live in Meribel for half the year we can sometimes get complacent so a trip to another resort is good for us to realise how lucky we are to have the 600km of piste that we do.