Perfect packed powder at St-Luc

24th February 2010, by Chris Gill

Great panoramic views to the Italian border

Great panoramic views to the Italian border

For our second day in Val d’Anniviers we crossed the valley to the sunny slopes of St-Luc and Chandolin. And sunny they turned out to be, with the continuing patchy cloud failing to develop into anything storm-like.

This is an area of splendid intermediate cruising pistes – mostly red, mostly at the easy end of the range, with the occasional tough exception. It’s high – practically all above the treeline, which here seems to be above the Alpine norm, with a top height of 3000m. So the sunny orientation doesn’t result in too much damage to the snow, at least for now. And the panoramic views of the peaks to the south are superb.

There’s vast amounts of mostly safe off-piste, too. As elsewhere in recent days, it was generally windblown – but we had a great day zipping around the piste network in almost perfect conditions. We resisted the long itinerary route from the area high-point having watched people struggling down the other route, from Col des Ombrintzes – a slope that I reckon may be the steepest marked run in the Alps (well over 45 degrees), and currently moguls top to bottom.

Like the other Val d’Anniviers resorts, this area does have one clear drawback: a preponderance of draglifts, which means slow progress. Progress was hampered a bit by slack signing, too. They don’t do piste naming or numbering around here, and we lost our way a couple of times – once through failing to realise that, yes, the piste we wanted was a walking path and a toboggan run as well as a ski run. Bizarre.

We ended a thoroughly entertaining day with one of the great home runs of the Alps – the top-to-bottom, 1400m vertical red from Bella Tola, outside the lift system to Le Prilet (a short shuttle-bus ride from St Luc). No narrow tracks, no mogul fields, no sheet ice, just an enjoyable red run in good condition, all the way down. If only Val d’Isère could manage something similar.

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