Six Days of Ski Fun in Chamonix with Dave and Jon

Domaine de Balme

To kick off the week we thought we’d take it easy and find our ski-legs at Le Tour, or more properly – Domaine de Balme. Of course with the mad-for-it speed machines Dave and Jon in the team “take it easy” didn’t really work out. It was a speed fest blasting all the pistes at hyper velocity. Then we headed off-piste in to the area I know as the “Scandi Trap”…

Jon near the end of the "Scandi Trap" at Domaine de Balme
Jon near the end of the “Scandi Trap” at Domaine de Balme

Les Houches

Day two say us at Les Houches, supposedly for another easy ski-leg finding day. Of course, predictably, that didn’t happen either. We blasted all the pistes at ultra speed, and managed to avoid crashing in to all the trees in the off-piste. 😉

Chamonix Piste Map

Courmayeur

Courmayeur was the venue for the next day. This involved taking a bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel. The ski area is covered by the same Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass, but the bus costs €15 each return. However, Dave and I – on my recommendation – only took our UK driving licenses as ID for the border crossing in to Italy. I’m fairly certain checks are a little more rigorous now-a-days due to the migrant and terrorist issues faced by France this year. A driving license is not sufficient, take your passport! Luckily the gendarmes, after a stern telling off and much finger wagging, let us go through the tunnel for an amazing day blasting the pistes at mega pace.

Jon and Dave at the main lift from Courmayeur
Jon and Dave at the main lift from Courmayeur
Dave and Pete getting near to the col before the long off-piste descent in to Val Veney at Courmayeur
Dave and Pete getting near to the col before the long off-piste descent in to Val Veney at Courmayeur
Looking back towards the top Cresta d'Arp lift station
Looking back towards the top Cresta d’Arp lift station

Before catching the bus back to Chamonix we enjoyed – possibly – the best hot chocolate in the world…

The Italians make, perhaps, the best hot chocolate drinks in the world!
The Italians make – perhaps – the best hot chocolate drinks in the world!

Vallée Blance

On the fourth day our legs were tired from all the frantic speed skiing. But still keen for a top adventure we opted for the VallĂ©e Blanche. I’d heard that the hot summer had left massive crevasses on the route. As it turned out, except for the two surprising and slightly scary crevasses on the snow arĂȘte leading down from the Aiguille du Midi lift station, the route was in fine condition.

The equipped ridge down from the Aiguille du Midi lift station to the start of the Vallée Blanche
The equipped ridge down from the Aiguille du Midi lift station to the start of the Vallée Blanche
Pete ready for the ski down the Vallée Blanche
Pete ready for the ski down the Vallée Blanche

Le Brévent

The BrĂ©vent/FlĂ©gĂšre area was the next rapid travel test venue. Dave felt the burn earlier than Jon and I and headed back to base an hour or so earlier. Jon and I stayed on and at one point got silly! Having enjoyed a few jumps of the odd lump and bump I spied a larger bump, maybe 3 metres high. As I reached the top – at some speed – it was too late to take evasive action when I saw that the other side was a sheer drop! Thankfully the snow was deep and soft and no bones were broken. Even more thankfully, with Jon only a few metres off my tail, he avoided landing right on top of me!

Pete standing below the drop off at Le Brevent he and Jon "accidentally" threw themselves off at great speed!
Pete standing below the drop off at Le Brevent he and Jon “accidentally” threw themselves off at great speed!

Domaine de Balme

The final day of un-tethered swiftness was supposed to be at MegĂšve – newly covered by the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass. The bus from Chamonix is free, but it needs to be booked before 4pm the previous day. This we failed to do. Therefore we simply got on the first regular ski bus that arrived. We ended up back at the Domain de Balme. The highlight of the visit was a tremendous and long off-piste descent from the top of the Aiguillette right down in to Vallorcine.

Jon and Dave looking suitable knackered at the end of six packed skiing days...
Jon and Dave looking suitably knackered at the end of six packed skiing days…

Courmayeur – better weather, awesome powder,
and the best hot chocolate in the world

Dave sent a text at 7am to say he wasn’t going out today so there would be a spare bus ticket going for Courmayeur. More “Courmayeur – better weather, awesome powder,
and the best hot chocolate in the world”

Skiing in Bardonecchia

Richard and I have been exploring the slopes of Bardonecchia, a ski resort about 1hr 30 from Turin and quite close to Sestriere.

Whilst the snow fall has been pretty poor since before Christmas, the day before we arrived a significant amount of snow fell, making conditions on the slopes really quite nice for our first morning of skiing.

Rachel on the slopes

Whilst there is little really hard skiing at this resort, there are lots of nice runs through the trees with some interesting contour details. There are also lots of nice, traditional mountain cafes, which appear to sell the thickest hot chocolate known to man! It’s more like warm blancmange than hot chocolate … but we’re not complaining!

View from Cresta Seba