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”…
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. 😉
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.
Before catching the bus back to Chamonix we enjoyed – possibly – the best hot chocolate in the world…
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 Vallée 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 arête leading down from the Aiguille du Midi lift station, the route was in fine condition.
The Brévent/Flégère 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!
Domaine de Balme
The final day of un-tethered swiftness was supposed to be at Megève – 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.