Skiing in Les Gets, Portes du Soleil, January 2013   8 comments

I’m back! Not posted any stuff for a month or so. Call it a lost mojo or the fact that I’ve been busy tinkering with my ever-growing collection of gadgets, editing videos and, well, being out and about generating stuff for the blog. I’m way behind as a result and have lots to catch up. A couple of walks in the Black Mountains and Brecons, a superb day out in the mid-Wales mountains near the Elan Valley and a trip to the Southern Highlands of Scotland with the lads. But before all that a little report of my annual skiing trip to the French Alps. Slight diversion from the majority of my walking relating posts but you can’t have a blog with “slide” in the title without doing a bit. At least the photos were nice

Les Gets, Mont Blanc, Portes du Soleil

Uncle Fester and Mont Blanc from Mont Chery

Les Gets, Mont Chery, Portes du Soleil

Uncle Fester in action on Mont Chery

There were supposed to be 5 of us but due to some family and work-related problems it ended up just being me and Uncle Fester. For anyone who’s interested we always fly out on a Friday night to get a full 8 days skiing in, flying home the following Saturday night. After a trouble-free QuesyJet flight from Bristol to Geneva and a night in a hotel in Annemasse we headed to the resort of Les Gets for our weeks skiing in the Portes du Soleil. It claims to be the largest ski area in Europe and it certainly does give you a sense of travel as you move around the dozen or so separate resorts. Most of the resorts are very pleasant and the skiing for the most part is superb and uncrowded. The tree-lined runs are top notch and there is everything from easy beginner slopes to some seriously steep stuff (Avoriaz has “The Wall” reputed to be Europe’s steepest marked run). There is a huge choice of slopes but there are several disconnects where you either have to walk, take a bus or do both. Our other favoured area is the 3 Valleys where there is none of that tomfoolery. I’d certainly go back to this area again but in all honesty the range of skiing in the 3 valleys and super efficient, well-connected lift system and slopes is far better. Nice to try somewhere different though and we had a great weeks skiing. Our apartment was also rather splendid (apart from the slippery access road with its entry barrier halfway up an icy hill!) and particularly spacious as it was sized for the 5 of us!

Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

Our Apartment in Les Gets

Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

View from my bedroom window

The first couple of days were, clear, sunny and cold on wonderfully groomed pistes, great for getting back into the swing of things and just enjoying the simple pleasures of swooping through the sunshine and adrenaline rush of high-speed activity that I love.

Les Gets, Mont Chery, Portes du Soleil

Nameless Peak from Mont Chery

Les Gets, Mont Chery, Mont Blanc, Portes du Soleil

Les Gets and Mont Blanc from Mont Chery

Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

Trees in afternoon light

We spent most of the time in the immediate area of Les Gets itself as we just didn’t feel the need to explore. The first video collection I hope captures the mood.

After a couple of days we got what we wanted, an overnight dump of fresh powder.

Ranfolly, Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

West from Ranfolly, Les Gets

Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

Cloud and Powder

When I was learning to ski I was a speed junkie, enjoying freshly groomed slopes to whizz down at unsafe velocities usually ending in a spectacular fall that became my trademark. After a lesson on powder skiing I was hooked and nothing beats floating through deep untracked powder after fresh snowfall. This day was as perfect as it gets, champagne powder and after an hour so the clouds parted to reveal sensational views across the Alps to Mont Blanc.

Les Gets, Mont Blanc, Portes du Soleil

Mont Blanc above the cloud

Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

Uncle Fester emerges from the trees

Ranfolly, Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

Ranfolly, Les Gets

A cracking lunch and a large beer outside in the sunshine at our favourite cafe completed a pretty much perfect morning. An afternoon cruising around the uncrowded slopes, dropping in and out of the powder finished the day off to a tee.

Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

Clouds and Mountains

Les Gets, Mont Blanc, Portes du Soleil

Mont Blanc framed by clouds

Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

Evening light

One of my best ever day’s skiing and I hope the next compilation supports that elation I felt when I got back to the flat.

To say we had all kinds of weather during the week is an understatement. After a couple of days of cold clear weather and a day of fresh powder we had what every skiier dreads – rain. The lower slopes turned to mush and it was raining as high as 2000 metres.

Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

Here comes the rain

Les Diablerets, Portes du Soleil

Les Diablerets

The video clip below is taken from an afternoon of solo skiing as Uncle Fester took his leave and sensibly spent the afternoon in the flat. I’m far too tight to waste my hard-earned and very expensive lift pass so I stayed out and spent a happy couple of hours getting some alternative shots in the cloud and rain. For the uninitiated these shots were taken from a chest harness rather than from a head-mount hence the lower angle and regular views of hands, poles and skis.

Nice thing about a rainy day is that the slopes are deserted so I had the resort pretty much to myself. I did discover on my last run to the flat that what was light fluffy powder the previous day was now porridge causing a rather spectacular face-plant that I managed to capture. The rain also had the rather interesting effect of turning the hard compacted snow on the estate road into watery sheet ice. Very hard to walk on in ski-boots and pretty much impossible in trainers as I found out when I went to do the shopping!

What did we get next? Well it rained all night but at some point it stopped the skies cleared and all that heavy wet snow turned to ice.

Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

Early morning icy slopes

Avoriaz, Portes du Soleil

Avoriaz

The runs were absolutely rock hard the next day, although the sun was out. Uncle Fester wasn’t at all happy and quickly took his leave of me again. I took off on a solo tour of the area. I don’t mind skiing the icy slopes. It’s much less taxing on tired legs (skiing in powder and heavy snow is hard work) and the runs are slick and fast, ideal for a speed junkie like me.

Les Diablerets, Portes du Soleil

Les Diablerets

This final video captures that solo day and I’ve left the sound on the clips so you may be able to hear the sound of the skis carving across the ice.

The rain returned the penultimate day although rather than the light drizzle of before it was now a ceaseless downpour that even I wasn’t keen to experience. We did venture out after lunch on the assumption that surely it would be snowing higher up. It wasn’t and Uncle Fester left me to it after a couple of runs and went back. I stayed out to make the scientific and clearly obvious discovery that skiing in heavy rain is deeply unpleasant. Skiing gear is designed to be windproof and warm, not to keep you dry in a downpour. As I sat alone on a chairlift, soaked to the skin and with water dripping out of my gloves I decided that I’d proved my point and been quite foolish enough. Unsurprisingly, no photos or video footage from this little excursion.

Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

Sunset

Les Gets, Portes du Soleil, Portes du Soleil

Farewell

The final day was a cracker with more fresh powder to play in, but distinctly cold and windy. Not a bad finish to a fun week with very mixed conditions, great learning process as I always say, normally when lying face down in the snow after a fall. Roll on winter 2014

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8 responses to “Skiing in Les Gets, Portes du Soleil, January 2013

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  1. Wow. Epic post, no wonder you’re behind.
    Well, it all looks dreadful. I suppose somebody has to do it, it’s a God-send that you and the Raspberry Ripple are willing to step up to the plate once again. (Razen fazen…….)

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    beatingthebounds
    • Nice Muttley impression there!
      I like to think you’d appreciate the sacrifice I made putting up with all that skiing to bring you these wonderful photos and inspiring video clips. The things I do for you – and you don’t appreciate it

      Like

  2. Might have been mixed weather for skiing, but the photos all look fantastic. I don’t ski at all, but Geoff does cross country skiing and we both snow shoe. We’ve been toying with the idea of some snowy, alpine area for next Christmas………..

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    • It really is magnificent when the sky is blue and the sun shines. Lots of people do X-country the resorts and there are loads of walking & snowshoeing trails trails. If you picked an out of the way resort there would be less ugly skiing mess but the same glorious views. Got to be better than a dank December in the UK 🙂

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  3. Agree. Epic post! We last went skiing in 2007 (boohoo!) to a very pretty little Austrian village called St. Christoph in the Vorarlberg area. Well before *van life*. Unfortunately I had a stupid fall in fresh snow and have been a little scaredy cat ever since……much to Mr. B’s dismay [perhaps he could take up one of your leftover beds next time??? hehe]. I really enjoyed coming with you skiing via YouTube, and loooooooooooved the first track on the 7:51 min vid, what was it? And what’s the verdict on braving an outing over Easter – are you planning on doing anything?
    Until soon,
    Babs B

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    • Was that St Christoph in the St Anton ski area. Skiied there a few years back. St Anton was way too busy but we liked St Christoph, Lech and Zurs. I fall all the time when skiing, mainly ‘cos I ski way too fast. Mr B would have been welcome to share the cost and save me having to look at my mate Uncle Fester all week 🙂
      Glad you enjoyed the vids and tunes. That track was “Powder Blue” by Elbow (I always list the track in my end credits if you can stay awake long enough through my vids)
      Planning to go backpacking in the Western Highlands of Scotland over Easter – “Madness, Madness, they call it Madness”

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  4. Looking through these is getting me so excited! We are planning a ski trip for this next winter (could just go now though I guess haha!) Lovely photos and scenery it’s really got me hyped up for our trip. Wanting to go to Austria though after a recommendation, any suggestions welcome! Glad you have found your mojo too!

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    • I’m a France man when it comes to skiing. I prefer the higher altitude big mountain scenery and the bigger resorts. Only skied in Austria once in St Anton, didn’t much like it as it was too busy but the nearby resorts of Lech and Zurs were great. I’ve been skiing every year for about 20 years so if you want some ideas on where to go just drop me an email

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