Snow falling in the Portes du Soleil

11th January 2013, by Chris Gill

Avoriaz at 9am Friday

Avoriaz at 9am Friday

I’m just starting a tour of French resorts, and right now I’m in Avoriaz - in the Portes du Soleil region, south of lake Geneva and about half-way between Geneva and Chamonix.

Yesterday, Thursday, brought some snow, falling as sleet down in Morzine, which did something to perk up the pistes after a period of very warm weather - I had one reliable report of temperatures over 20C at one point last week - which has resulted in a seriously icy base low-down. Yesterday, on the runs down to Morzine this ice was very much in evidence, resulting in blue pistes littered with bodies.

Overnight there has been quite serious continuous snow which still goes on - Chamonix meteo seems to think we’ll end up with about half a metre by the time the snowfall fades this afternoon. So I’m expecting better things today. This seems an ideal opportunity to see how the “snowcross” pistes of Avoriaz work in practice.

Snowcross is the Avoriaz term for ungroomed pistes. Nothing special about that, I hear you say - but ungroomed pistes are normally black runs; here, there are two reds and a blue, as well as two blacks. The Fornet fast chair up near the Swiss border serves a red and a blue, so that would be the obvious place to head, but the visibility is poor so first I’ll head over to the red run by the Brochaux chair in the Lindarets valley, which has at least a bit of forest nearby to give some direction to the light.

I’m staying very comfortably in Pierre & Vacances’ smart new Atria residence up above the centre of the resort. I imagine it enjoys excellent views, but right now I can’t see much apart from ever-heavier snow. I grabbed the header pic from the resort webcam half an hour ago, but now we have a real whiteout. Watch this space.

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